Makeover a marvel on Elgin in Ballsbridge for €3.75m

The elegance of this period redbrick in Dublin’s embassy belt has been preserved rather than destroyed by ultra-modern additions. It may look a little forlorn right now but it is still a ‘jaw-droppingly lovely’ home


House sales have their own shorthand – and the easiest term to decipher these days is the “unfurnished house”. If it’s a grand period house and it’s going to auction without a stick of furniture and with a slightly abandoned feel, then chances are it’s a bank sale.

When the owners bought it, it was probably “staged” to the hilt, with fresh flowers in every room, but now the almost certainly freezing place echoes from lack of furnishings and recent habitation.

Even with all that, 18 Elgin Road, which is firmly in Ballsbridge’s “embassy belt” is still a jaw-droppingly lovely home that’s a rare example of an old house transformed with ultra-modern additions without losing any of its period charm. It is for auction on February 19th by Lisney with an AMV of €3.75 million.

In the dying days of the boom this house sold for around €12.5 million, a record for this prestigious road. Property investor Fiona Healy had bought the vast house in 2004 for €4.8 million from the Guinness family, who had hoped to rent it to an embassy and had done extensive renovations of their own. Healy moved in and added an enormous modern extension. When she sold the house, she held on to a double-sized mews site to the rear with planning permission for a 278sq m (3,000sq ft) mews.

Even from the outside the three-storey-over-basement period house looks smart, with new pointing brightening its red brick – a further sign of a top-notch renovation. Inside, the choices that were made while updating and extending this already large house – it’s now 558sq m (6,006sq ft) – have greatly added to its family-friendly appeal without sacrificing any of its grandeur.

The kitchen isn’t in the basement as would be more usual, instead it’s at hall level in an L-shaped open-plan space with a huge livingroom to the front and the top-of-the-range Bulthaup kitchen. It features a large island unit as well as what looks like every cupboard inset and appliance in the catalogue. The whole area, as well as the grand reception hall, is floored with pale cream stone.

Decorative plasterwork
The formal drawingrooms are up on the first floor – again an open L-shaped space but with stunning decorative plaster work, pillars and a fine pair of fireplaces. The flooring here has been replaced with American oak.

There are five bedrooms on the top two levels, three with ensuites – and a sixth bedroom with en suite at basement level, originally intended for an au pair.

The basement was extended at the rear with a stunning glass-walled room – a very contemporary space, with a feature gas fire, that is accessed from the hallway through a bespoke swivel door. Also at this level are a cinema room to the front, a utility room, and a shower room. There’s a sense that money was no object in the renovation of this house.

Despite the space that was sacrificed to the mews site, the back garden is still a good size and while it looks miserable now, its layout, with a smart limestone patio and fringe of greenery, will improve with care. To the front there is parking for several cars.

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