How a speed dating architect and €50 gave this couple their perfect Dublin home
A €50 architect consultation ‘date’ at Simon’s hugely popular Open Door charity event inspired the dazzling transformation of a 1900s red-brick at Lauderdale Terrace into a couple’s perfect first home
No7 Lauderdale Terrace, New Row, Dublin 8
Asking price: €645,000 Agent: Felicity Fox (01) 663 4431
Dublin Simon’s hugely popular Open Door event takes place this year from May 8 to 14, allowing those who normally might not consider hiring a professional architect a one-hour consultation with a practitioner at a reduced fee — which is in turn donated to help the homeless.
Applications for bookings are invited from early April for the event which is run with the help of members of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI). This year the one-hour sessions cost €98.
Open Door has raised more than €1.4m for the homeless since its inception 18 years ago. And it can be said that due to its longevity and success, the annual architectural ‘speed dating’ event has also had an impact on the renovation of Irish homes, especially when the sessions have thrown like minds together.
A good example is that of Michael and Claire Murphy who attended in 2015 and for €50 got a consultation with restoration architect Fionnuala O’Connor of Urban Architecture.
“It really appealed to us that Urban was also a local firm,” says Claire. “And it turned out that Fionnuala knew our houses exactly, even to the point of how the sunlight moved through them.”
Michael and Claire grew up in Dun Laoghaire living at either end of the same street. As a couple they later moved into the city centre to rent houses in the Barrow Street area.
In 2013, when the market was depressed and prices were affordable, they decided it would be a good time to buy their first home. “We wanted to stay living in the city centre with all that had to offer and we wanted a period house,” says Claire. “I grew up in one and I always loved the craftsmanship and that warm atmosphere that only an older home can have.”
Their attention was soon drawn to No7 Lauderdale Terrace on New Row in Dublin 8, a handsome early 1900s three-bed red-brick within sight of the St Patrick’s Cathe dral spire and with some unusual Edwardian funky blue brick trimmings around the door and windows.
“It was everything we wanted and more. And we really liked the street,” says Michael. “It’s central for everything, 10 minutes from Stephen’s Green, the restaurants and pubs on Capel Street, the Phoenix Park and all the local cafes and pubs like Fallon’s. But New Row is tucked in peacefully away from the bustle.” No7 was in poor condition. The downstairs floors were perished. But the couple liked it and purchased. “The plumbing seemed improvised and let’s say a lot of it was ‘external’,” says Michael.
“There was a badly built lean-to at the back with a damp kitchen and bathroom. We lived in it for a few years and painted the existing kitchen and made do. We wanted to figure out how we would want to change it. But a few years on we still didn’t quite know. That’s when Claire heard about Open Door.”
They came away from Open Door excited and inspired and with a serviette containing rough sketches.
“Fionnuala showed us how we could rearrange the space to make more of it,” says Claire. “Six months later we hired her. She brought in ideas we never would have thought of for maximising space.
“She had the stairs moved to open up the house. A sunken bath was provided in the space under the stairs and we got an impact extension with a huge picture window feature. My favourite place is on the sofa looking out on the garden through it.”
Michael adds: “I love the front parlour room where I work. We have the ‘old house’ and the ‘new house’ with different characters for each.”
Today with young two children they’re moving back to Dun Laoghaire.
B3 rated No7 is almost 1,000 sq ft and has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, the parlour room and the vast open-plan modern kitchen/dining/living extension by Urban as well as a sun deck and rear garden. Felicity Fox (01) 663 4431 seeks €645,000.