In their finest evening dresses and starched dinner jackets, the wealthy city folk would parade up on down the seafront of Greystones, trying to impress each other as the summer sun was setting.
The seaside village was something of a playground for high society back in the late 1800s, when the opening of the Dublin to Kingstown railway made it accessible as a summer sojourn. Days were spent at the beach, with women and children filling up the row of bathing boxes, while the men stood around the cliff wall waiting to catch a glimpse of the ladies with their swimsuits. Evenings were for walking and wooing, under the watchful eye of strict parents, with the odd motor car or two honking as it goes by in a cloud of dust.
Wavecrest was one of the first terraces to be built along the seafront in Greystones back in the 1870s. With a prime spot on the Cliff Road, the house would have enjoyed sea views, with a few boats pulled up at the harbour across the road.
Today, after years of planning, where those boats once lay, is now a 100-berth state-of-the-art marina, which has brought a new lease of life to the seaside village with boating enthusiasts coming from all over the country to check out the sailing, angling and dive clubs attached to it. No2 Wavecrest is on the market for the second time in a few years. It sold in October 2018 for €940,000 and is now back up through O'Gorman Properties with a guide price of €975,000.
The house underwent a major renovation in 2013. Architect Mary-Anne Parsons of MPBA Architects in Bray was called in to help with the restoration of the landmark property. What she saw on her first visit was a beautiful period house that was showing its age and unable to function as a modern family home.
"Wavecrest was a jewel waiting to be polished," recalls Parsons, fondly. "The entrance to the property was hidden to the side and the interior had no relationship with the suntrap of a yard to the rear.
"The existing single-storey extension to the side was poorly constructed and, while it technically added floor area, did not add usable living space."
The clients were looking for a design that would open the house up and provide more movement and space for their young family. "The brief was to extend the house to allow for an additional bedroom/study, as well as opening up and extending the ground floor," says Parsons. "It was necessary to have clearly defined spaces for the kitchen, dining, living and play areas, while maintaining connectivity between them."
Extending and designing weren't the only things the architect had to consider, however. Wavecrest is a listed building, so Parsons had to make sure that the design of the new two-storey extension to the side of the house not only pleased her clients, but was also sympathetic to the original structure. It could be said this was a definite success because the new extension looks like it has always been part of the property and not just an afterthought.
There was a bit more freedom when it came to the back of the house, where large glazed sliding doors were put in to open the house out to the garden. The result is a light-filled extension with exposed rafters and doors out to the patio.
Light was an important part of the brief and Parsons was adamant she would get as much in as possible. "We created a large entrance hall or wind lobby, which opens up into a double-height gallery space in the centre of the house," she says. "As a result, no part of the house appears dark or without connection to the outside, with views to the harbour and garden alike."
It was during the construction of the gallery that a fireplace was discovered in one of the rooms that was 'sacrificed' in the renovation. Instead of covering it up, it was decided it should become a feature, so when you look up at the landing, you can admire the old brickwork.
A lot of work was put in to make sure that other period features like the staircase, coving and architraves could be restored, so the heart of the house and its history wasn't taken away.
"To the front of the house, we changed very little of the character of the original dwelling," Parsons says proudly. "This north-facing façade is subject to the elements, thus the requirement for a wind lobby. The clients had an active outdoor lifestyle and wanted an area where they could easily accommodate all their sports gear.
"Inside, the front sitting room facing on to the harbour has large windows to take in the view and has maintained all the character of a Victorian house, with an open fireplace and bespoke carpentry to the bay window. All the flush hollow core doors were replaced with salvaged timber doors and the original floorboards were reused, where possible, after insulating between the joists. They were then sanded and sealed to provide a quality finish."
Instead of knocking walls and creating wide open spaces, Parsons decided it would be better to retain significant portions of the original stone walls, and allow openings in them to define spaces.
The house now has a floor area of over 2,000 sq ft and an impressive BER rating of B3, thanks to the solar water heating panels, insulation, double-glazed sash windows and a Hunter Herald stove with back boiler. The kitchen was crafted by the Victorian Salvage Company and comes with matching bespoke breakfast bar, a Rangemaster and ceramic double sink. The sun room at the back of the kitchen is a long way from the conservatories of old.
The space has a swing hanging from the timber rafters for a playful (and careful) perch with a cocktail and the doors slide all the way back to fully access the garden. There are five bedrooms, each with plantation shutters on the windows. The front bedrooms and the master at the top level of the house have views out to the marina, with Bray Head and the Sugarloaf beyond. The bathroom has a free-standing antique claw-foot bath, with a separate wet room in the corner with a large shower tiled with mosaic blue tiles. There is vehicular access via the side gate and a shed for storage. The garden has been landscaped with hardy plants that are used to coastal weather and there are steps up to a sunny deck area.
It's an easy commute from Greystones thanks to the Dart and the M50. Once home though, there's no reason to leave with the village full of good places to eat, like The Happy Pear, The Hungry Monk and The Three Qs. It's not a bad spot for a drink either, with the Beach House for a pint or Mrs Robinson's for a cocktail and a bit of dancing. But go easy with the swing when you get home.