Tuesday 17 September 2019

Two faces of Blackrock: The double-fronted home of two fashion entrepreneurs

Bungalow or contemporary pad? Depending which way you look at it

The contemporary extension frontage
The contemporary extension frontage
The 'secret' garden space
The tiled hall
The deck in sunshine
The informal dining area
The traditional 1960s dormer bungalow frontage gives little away about what's around the side
The kitchen with porcelain tiled floor
The living room and dining room with funky pendant lighting
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

'When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."

So said the late American philosopher, author and motivationalist Wayne Dyer. The adage of the Detroit-born author of Wishes Fulfilled certainly applies to Grove Lodge, the unique double-fronted home of fashion entrepreneurs John and Annie Barron at 6 Grove Lawn in Blackrock, Co Dublin.

This house can seem markedly different depending on which approach you take. Walking up to it from the Mount Merrion end of Grove Lawn, the property looks pretty much like any of the forty 1960s dormer bungalow-style homes on the street, aside perhaps from a slight extension with a light box window overhead.

But come to it from the Stillorgan end of the street and you're looking at an expansive and slick ultra modern flat roofed 21st century contemporary home, with no bungalow apex in sight. You could call it two homes in one. It's a duplicity which the owners have enjoyed over the years.

The deck in sunshine
The deck in sunshine

"We always got a laugh when people call into us for the first time and they can't see the side of the house. They walk in the front door and once inside they actually can't believe the sheer size of the place," says John Barron.

The couple bought Grove Lodge 15 years ago in original condition. It had at one point been owned by the late hotel chain mogul PV Doyle, who was also a housing developer in the 60s and it had been rented out for a time. "The house needed absolutely everything done with it," says Annie,"rewiring, replumbing, the whole lot."

The couple, who have three children, modernised the existing house with its accommodation of 1,700 sq ft. But the layout was still a little archaic for them. "It might have been altered somewhere along the way before we bought it, but we had two bedrooms upstairs and the entrance was at the side," says John. The good news was that the house was located on a corner site which gave them plenty of additional room to play with. There'd likely not be much fuss from planners given that the bulk of the additional space was to go on the side.

Yearning especially for a bigger family space around a kitchen and a bigger bedroom layout upstairs, the couple called in architect Donal Hickey to come up with drawings for an extension. "I told him that we want to make the house much bigger but what we don't want is to end up with something that looks like two bungalows joined together. We wanted something very different," says John.

"And he certainly came up with that. At the time everyone was adding contemporary box extensions and we really liked it. So we told him to go ahead."

The work was carried out in 2010, taking the overall floor area up to just over 3,000 sq ft. And while his family has appreciated the super sized kitchen/living space and the extra bedrooms the extension has produced, John, who runs popular fashion stores like Pamela Scott/Richard Alan, prefers the unexpected effect on the back garden. "You can sit out there, in the middle of Blackrock, and it's so peaceful. You can't hear a thing."

The living room and dining room with funky pendant lighting
The living room and dining room with funky pendant lighting

Now the family are selling up and seeking a price of €1.45m. Accommodation includes the entrance hall with a white porcelain tiled floor and a tear drop-style chandelier.

There's a living room and dining room with a solid wood floor and an open fireplace with a feature wall-to-wall hearth. Two outsize ceiling light shades have a funky twist.

The kitchen links in via two arches and has porcelain floor tiles, marble counter tops and a rustic look Belfast sink. The gas hob is De Dietrich, there's a Neff double oven, a Bosch dishwasher, a Samsung 'smart oven' microwave and an ornate island breakfast bar.

The family room, which is 36 feet long, has wall to wall custom glass along the side with two overhead skylights. The floor is in Versace tiling and a contemporary style wall-mounted gas fire provides ambiance. For the children there's a den and playroom.

A decent utility with wall and floor storage units is accessed via a door at the front of the house, which means Grove Lodge has two entrances. An island unit also has storage underneath. It includes a Bosch oversized fridge freezer, Whirlpool washer and Bosch dryer.

Given their business, the vendors have added a dressing room on the ground floor off their main bedroom with fitted sliding wardrobes and there's the master bedroom en suite with a shower and bath.

The traditional 1960s dormer bungalow frontage gives little away about what's around the side
The traditional 1960s dormer bungalow frontage gives little away about what's around the side

Upstairs are four more bedrooms one of which comes with an en suite and its own study alcove. The main family bathroom has a bath and a mains shower.

The site is accessed via electric gates and the wrap-around rear garden has decking that frames one side and a 'secret' seating area adorned with wisteria. Blackrock Village with its range of shops and pubs and its market, and of course, the seaside are all a short stroll away.

Agent Janet Carroll claims that if you want a decent sized family house here in this price range and offering the best of both worlds, then you won't have to look twice.

Grove Lodge

6 Grove Lawn


Co Dublin

Asking price: €1.45m

Agent: Janet Carroll, (01) 288 2020

Indo Property

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