Thursday 20 June 2019

This flexible family home marks a change on one of Ireland's most expensive streets

Rathkeane is a luxury home that flexes to suit a changing family, writes Alison Gill

The entrance hall
The entrance hall
Flexible: The huge open-plan spaces at Rathkeane allow for all occasions and events from summer sunshine to winter hibernation
Winter living room
The frontage, showing the double door garage and the separate ground floor entrance
Another reception space opens out for the summer
The kitchen with timber flooring
The rear of the house opens fully
The back garden patio
A dining area

When the train line was built to run through Blackrock in 1834, the pool of seawater closed in on the landside space became rancid marshland. It was decided in 1873, that the best solution was to fill it all in and create a park for locals to enjoy. The area's extensive parklands and proximity to the sea, rail and schools have always kept demand high for homes here and competition has sometimes been fierce. Prices have reflected this.

Avoca Avenue was featured in the top 10 of Ireland's most expensive streets in the Daft.ie Wealth Report in 2017. It's a road that's made up of both period and modern properties, with Rathkeane at No38 being one of the newer kids on the block.

It was one of eight three-storey houses built by Castlethorn in 1994. The family-friendly design won Michelle O'Reilly over when she and her family became one of the first to buy.

"It was a very high-quality fitout," recalls O'Reilly. "I remember the surveyor who snagged it at the time was very impressed with the finish."

Winter living room
Winter living room

This attention to detail has stood the test of time with the house maintaining a showhouse-like quality over the years.

O'Reilly says that it was its adaptability in particular that made it ideal for her family. "At different stages we made alterations to suit where the family was at. We could have the children safely upstairs when they were young, with adults enjoying the space downstairs. Then a few years later, the teenagers could hang out downstairs and we could escape to the peace upstairs," she laughs. "All of the eight houses on the row have done different things over the years to suit their changing families."

She says it's also a house for all seasons. "My favourite part of the house changes depending on the time of year," says O'Reilly. "In the summer, we open the back doors and spend our time out in the garden. Then in the winter, the fire in the living room gets a lot of use because we spend so much time in this room around Christmas."

The house is entered up the steps to the first floor. To the left of the hall is the aforementioned living room, with open fire, surround sound and double doors into the family/dining room.

This room is less formal with a walnut floor and wood-burning stove, which follows through to the kitchen. The kitchen was installed by Newcastle Design and has plenty of wall and floor units, a Neff five-ring hob and double oven, a Stanley range cooker and polished granite worktops. While the average kitchen open out to the rear garden, as this one is on the first floor, there is an ivy-clad spiral staircase down to the garden.

There's another entrance to the property on the ground floor. At the front is a bedroom with ensuite bathroom. Then another bedroom at the back, with fitted wardrobes with a sink unit.

Another reception space opens out for the summer
Another reception space opens out for the summer

The second living room in the house is in the middle of these bedrooms. It has solid oak flooring and bi-folding doors that are the length of the house leading out to the garden. O'Reilly replaced the old French doors about 12 years ago with bi-fold versions, and had awning installed over the patio area so that the space can be used no matter what the weather. The garage is being used as a utility room with plumbing for a washing machine and dryer as well as storage.

On the top floor there are three more bedrooms. The master has fitted wardrobes and an ensuite bathroom with a shower unit and electric Velux window. There's another bathroom here and a Stira to the attic.

Carysfort National School is at the end of the avenue, while Dominican College at Sion Hill is less than 15 minutes away on foot. There's a green right in front of the house where kids can play safely, or a five-minute walk will take you to Carysfort Park and playground.

O'Reilly says it's lovely to see all of the kids on the avenue leaving the house on foot in the mornings and out playing in the green in the afternoons. "We've been so lucky to have lived here for so long and bring our kids up here," she says. "There's been a lot of love and happiness in this house."

The frontage, showing the double door garage and the separate ground floor entrance
The frontage, showing the double door garage and the separate ground floor entrance

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