Converting a church into a home can prove a penance for the sin of foolishly aspiring to seamlessly add first-floor bedrooms into a tall structure that relies so heavily on what Kevin McCloud, presenter of Grand Designs, calls "the theatre of space". Yet that is what architect Andrew Lohan and his wife Jackie accomplished at a Church of Ireland chapel.
In 1998, the Lohans bought the derelict shell of the 1830s chapel in Kilgallan, near Westport, after spotting it on holidays. Five years later, Grand Designs Abroad documented the painstaking transformation of the limestone Gothic structure into a four-bed house.
Lohan had designed a timber box that was lowered into the church to provide private spaces without obscuring the original building, and created a galleried walkway between the first-floor bedrooms that overlook the open-plan living spaces below. In the Grand Designs episode - one of the few to be filmed in Ireland - McCloud declared the feat to be the best church conversion he'd ever seen.
Lohan's latest work couldn't be more different: a development of million-euro new homes near the centre of Malahide, albeit ones with period echoes. Dún na Rí is a scheme of eight five-bed houses that's being built on the corner of Millview Road and the Swords Road, just 900ft away from Malahide Castle and Gardens.
Five of the eight homes, which range from 2,090 sq ft to 2,250 sq ft, go on the market for the first time tomorrow. Six of the houses in the development are detached, with the remaining two semi-detached, and there are five different layouts, all named after famous Irish castles.
No 1 and 2 Dún na Rí are priced from €1.1m apiece because they come with 100ft-long gardens, a rarity for suburban new-builds. No 5 Dún na Rí also costs from €1.1m, because it sits on a large corner site. No 3, the showhouse, is selling for €1.05m, a price that includes the contents, while No 4 is the cheapest, at €995,000, because it has a smaller garden that's aimed at downsizers seeking a low-maintenance home.
Each of the Dún na Rí homes has a front cobble-locked driveway that accommodates two cars and is secured by electric sliding gates. Other security features include an external camera system and sensor lights.
The façade has a combination of Hampton handmade red-brick and a painted sand and cement finish, with bay windows off the ground floor and first floor and grey to the frames of the triple-glazed windows. To the rear is a garden with a granite-paved patio and external lighting.
Inside, the accommodation extends across three floors. At ground level, there is a drawing room up front and a large open-plan kitchen/living/dining room to the back, as well as a utility room and storage space.
Nolan Kitchens supplied the fitted kitchen, which features soft-close doors and drawers, quartz worktops and a range of Neff appliances. Sets of French doors lead from the open-plan space out to the back garden.
Four bedrooms and the family bathroom are on the first floor, while the fifth bedroom, which is en suite, is on the second floor. There are fitted wardrobes from Cawleys Furniture in all bedrooms, and all but one of the eight houses have a walk-in wardrobe to the first-floor master bedroom.
Each house has an A2 BER, with a Samsung air-to-water heat pump powering the heating and hot water, and an electric car charging point to the front of the property.
For families, Dún na Rí is within the catchment area for both St Sylvester's Infant School and Pope John Paul II National School. Dún na Rí is also just a few minutes' walk from the coastal village's marina, restaurants, bars and shops.
For commuters, the development is a short walk from Malahide train station, with the journey to Dublin city centre taking around 25 minutes. When traffic is light, Dún na Rí is a ten-minute drive from the M1 and M50, and 15 minutes from Dublin Airport.
Viewings at Dún na Rí will be held from 11am to 1pm tomorrow and Sunday.
Downsizers with a hankering for Edwardian red-bricks but a distaste for the maintenance headaches associated with old homes are among the target market for Vernon Mews, a Clontarf development with period-style features such as bay windows, tiled pathways and iron railings to some of its properties.