RTE's 'Showhouse' star home hits the market for €675k
When Stephen Behan and Julieanne Bonner moved into their new home on Valentine's Day 2010, the eyes of the nation were upon them - or, if not the whole country, then at least the audience of RTE design show My Showhouse, presented by Neville Knott.
The couple had bought the house the year before, when it was 'an absolute wreck'. They had commissioned an architect, Charlie Hulgraine of DPP, to transform the 1890s redbrick terraced house into a home suitable for a young family.
They re-roofed, re-wired, re-plastered, re-plumbed and built a fine big roof-lit kitchen/dining extension at the back, with bi-folding doors out onto the deck and back garden. They put in new floors using timber that had been re-claimed from an old church.
Upstairs, they gave up one of the four bedrooms in favour of adding an en suite to what is now a spacious master bedroom and allowing for a decent-sized family bathroom.
And throughout the house, they restored the original period features - the cast-iron fireplaces with tiled inserts, the ceiling roses and dado rails that had charmed them when they first viewed the house, which was stinking of damp.
"When we first showed it to my mum," recalls Julieanne, "she said that it was 'an awful kip'." They even took out the original AGA range and sent it away to be reconditioned, but it fell apart in the process and had to be replaced with another that had been successfully restored.
By then, though, they realised that their budget was under pressure and so Julieanne put in an application to My Showhouse. She and Stephen were delighted to be chosen to feature in the programme.
"The premise of the show is that two interior designers pitch their ideas as to what the owner should do with the house and we had to choose between the two. We went with Jean Feeney of Peacock Design and were thrilled with the results.
"We reckon that we saved about €30,000 on what the interiors, including the kitchen, would have cost otherwise because of the discounts that we got when suppliers heard that their products would be featured on television."
With only a short time in which to complete the interior - the programme makers had decreed that the lovebirds should move in on Valentine's Day and scheduled filming accordingly - things got stressful at times, but Julieanne and Stephen are in no doubt that it was all worth it. They are full of praise for Feeney, who came up with ideas that they say they would never have thought of, and kept arriving with pieces of furniture and lamps that she'd picked up at Herman White auction rooms for a song.
The house now feels bright and modern, with 150sqm of living space and a layout that works well for a young family. Off the hall are two inter-connecting reception rooms - these could be put to a variety of different uses - and the original kitchen has been repurposed as a family room, leading out to the huge open-plan kitchen/dining room, fitted with units from Kube, an island unit and a range of integrated appliances.
Outside, the garden is compact but has both lawn and deck and a built-in pizza oven that gets plenty of use, particularly on summer evenings. There is rear access onto a lane and a shed. Upstairs, all three bedrooms are doubles.
Since they moved in, the couple has welcomed the arrival of two children, with the eldest due to start school in September. Julieanne's work as a physiotherapist and Pilates instructor is mainly based around Sutton and Howth and Stephen (who works in sales with an energy company) is originally from Baldoyle, where his mother still lives, so they are planning to move in the direction of Sutton.
They are, they say, on the hunt for another project."Once you've lived in a house like this, you realise that it has such personality - from the period features and the high ceilings, that we'd never want to move into a house where everything had been done already."
Prices in Dublin 9 have outperformed those in many of the city's other post codes in recent years and there is no sign of that trend abating.
Proximity to the city centre is the big attraction, along with the enduring appeal of mature, tree-lined streets that are mainly occupied by families. And being within a minute's walk of Anderson's Café and Creperie, around the corner on Carlingford Road, which serves an all-day menu and hosts regular evening events, would be reason enough on its own for the restaurant's many fans to give serious consideration to 20 Hollybank Road.
Address: 20 Hollybank Road, Drumcondra, Dublin 9
Asking price: €675,000
Agent: Gallagher Quigley (01) 818 3000
Viewing: By appointment
Portrait photograph by Mark Condren