Family flexible in Glenageary


A large garden, enough room inside to give each family member their own space and views across the bay are what make this five-bed appealing, writes GEMMA TIPTON

WARNING: SUNNINGHILL is a house you could fall in love with at first sight. That’s what happened to the current owners who, 12 years ago, were in Glenageary to visit a friend and happened to see an intriguing “For Sale” sign outside this semi-detached Victorian property. With no intention to buy (they were living happily in Rathmines), they went in for a look. That was on a Saturday, by Wednesday the house was theirs.

So what had won them over? It wasn’t the décor – the house was painted magnolia throughout, and had draughts coming through the windows, and cold wooden boards underfoot. No, the entrancing thing about Sunninghill – which is for sale for €2.1 million through Lisney – is the large garden to the rear, and the views from the upper floors, past St Paul’s church, and across Dublin Bay to Howth.

Another winning feature is the way the layout can accommodate a large family: the present owners have three children, plus a live-in au pair; and each family member has enough space and privacy to do their own thing. Thus there is a games room, boot room, downstairs shower (for kids coming in muddy from outside), and spaces for a secluded home office set up in both the basement and on the ground floor.

The large and sunny kitchen is in the basement, and has an Aga, plenty of marble-topped counter space, and enough room to eat around the kitchen table. On the ground floor the rooms are in a different style, and are much more formal. There is a dining room with garden access, and a separate second kitchenette, which makes catering large parties a breeze.

Upstairs the main bedroom is very spacious, but the clincher here is a bath and shower with stunning sea views while you soap. There are two further bedrooms on the first floor.

Go up again to find two attic bedrooms, with arched windows, one decorated in pink and fit for any little princess. The entire house is presented to a high standard of decoration, but one addition prospective owners might want to make is a further bathroom at the very top. The house does have four bathrooms, and there are even two separate tanks to make sure there are no fights over hot water, but only one of the bedrooms is en suite.

Spreading their renovations over the years, the owners have re-roofed, landscaped the gardens (which now include lavender and jasmine), draught-proofed the windows, and carpeted and redecorated throughout.

There is an attention to detail that includes custom-made panelling in the master en suite bathroom, and bespoke wallpaper in the dining room: Birr Damask, from a turn of the last century design, made by David Skinner from Celbridge, and a copy of woven linen hanging at Birr Castle.

Farrow and Ball paint throughout suits the many period features, and the main fireplaces on the ground floor are a matching pair, and are original to the house.

Sitting in the kitchen, and absent-mindedly petting the family dog, you are immediately aware of what a peaceful place it is – and that’s not just because you can enjoy a coffee in peace, unaware of what your rowdy kids or teenagers may be up to elsewhere in the house. The walls are thick, and the house is somehow comforting: it feels as if it has been looking after families for generations, and will continue to.

There is off-street parking, and even though it is at the front of the house, a cleverly constructed stone wall makes the kitchen quite private, without cutting out any light. Nevertheless, the number 7 bus route runs outside the door, while the nearest Dart station is a six-minute walk away. Nearby schools include Rathdown, Cluny and Loreto. You could imagine how quickly a new family would fit into the area – walking down to Cavistons and the 64 Wine shop and deli in Glasthule; spending Sunday mornings at the farmers’ market at People’s Park, Dún Laoghaire; and perhaps joining one of the nearby tennis clubs, or sailing at Dún Laoghaire.

On a more practical note, the large garage could become an annexe, or perhaps create space for a home business, and the different levels inside the main house mean anyone working from home can get by undisturbed, even when the whole family is in. The basement could even become a separate unit, as there is already a second kitchen on the first floor. In fact, even though the house is ready to walk into, it also has the potential to re-shape itself completely as a new family home.

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