Mews properties may be enjoying something of renaissance, especially given the scarcity of new homes in long-established residential areas. These converted stables or new-builds are to the rear of period townhouses.
For many, the idea of a self-contained unit, without having to share facilities with others, along with location, is the primary focus for those in search of a mews, and recent sales show that buyers are willing to pay a premium for these privileges.
"Exceptionally convenient locations and contemporary style are what attract buyers to mews properties," according to Susan Slevin of DNG, who has sold a number of mews properties in the Dublin 4 and Dublin 6 areas in the past year.
"Buyers of mews tend to be either young affluent professionals or 'trader-downers', people who live in the area and want a more manageable property, especially those who cannot get their head around an apartment block," says Peter Kenny of Knight Frank.
David O'Shea of ODOS architects, which took a silver medal at the RIAI awards in 2015, and is known for its ultra-modern mews conversions, says he loves this type of housing: "There is huge architectural freedom with these sites, and there is great enjoyment working with a client to create the vision to what the old property can become."
ODOS has worked on many sites, where planning has been refused on a mews in the past to create award-winning properties. His own house is an example of this: "we simply could not have done it on a conventional streetscape," says O'Shea of the bold conversion he created on a lane in Portobello.
O’Shea believes there are still a number of old properties in Dublin 4 and Dublin 6 on mews sites which could be transformed into wonderful living spaces. “Increasing the asset value of a property should be the primary focus of a good architect,” he says.
Planning restrictions on mews conversions put architects to the test, as they are often required to retain part of the original structure.
A further challenge is that mews properties tend to face on to laneways, which demands creativity in the form of screens, roller doors or interesting windows to provide privacy from passersby.
The end result is always unique, a balance between a period structure and contemporary design, and always a far cry from the repetitive blandness of many apartment schemes.
On the market
A modern four-bed mews off Dartmouth Square in Dublin 6 is hoping to strike it lucky fourth time around. Designed by HKR Architects, 44 Warner’s Lane – one of two identical adjoining properties – first appeared for sale in 2009, with an asking price of €1.35 million. A price that would currently buy one of the fine period residences on Dartmouth Square.
Number 44 was listed again in 2012 with a greatly reduced €575,000 price tag. Still no takers. Then in August 2014 it was back on the market for €750,000. Now the property, which is part of a portfolio sale, is for sale again with an updated price of €795,000, through DNG.
The difference this time is that the property is now staged for sale, showing off its potential as a luxurious home close to the city centre.
Branded photograph frames and candles throughout indicate that interior designer Helen Turkington has been busy, turning the property into a showhouse laden with plush furniture, oversized lamps and orchids.
It is a good idea because staging a house can really help to sell a property. Unfurnished houses tend to appear smaller than they actually are. Number 44 is listed with a floor space of 150sq m (1,614 sq ft) – though the brochure from 2009 lists the space at 128sq m.
Presumably the new figure includes the top-floor balcony, an ideal terrace from which to sip morning coffee, with skyline views of the grand dames on Leeson Street.
The mews is well designed, with a rooflight throwing light down into the dining area. All fittings are plush, with modern bathrooms and a mixture of solid oak and porcelain flooring throughout.
Cool wall lights and a high-end kitchen with Neff appliances are additional attractive features of this property which is just a few minutes from Leeson Street bridge. The fact that the house has only one open-plan living space may deter buyers – but with four bedrooms, there is the option to change a bedroom into a further living area.
An electric roller door, behind which there is parking for one car, offers complete privacy, and to the rear, there is a patio and city garden. Further down the lane, number 39, with a footprint of 189sq m, is listed as sale agreed – the asking price was €950,000.
On a cost per square metre basis in this location, number 44, with its high-end fittings appears good value, especially when compared with the price of apartments in Dublin 4 and Dublin 6.
Find your mews
Mews on the market: 4 Ardoyne Mews, off Pembroke Park, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, €825,000. Agent: Ganly Walters Designed by architectural firm Design Strategies, this mews is part of a development of eight and features a high-end Siematic kitchen, lots of natural light behind its limestone and glass façade and includes two car parking spaces.
58 Percy Lane, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, €925,000. Agent: Hunters Designed by Melted Snow Architects, this 133sq m is the last word in energy efficiency. Hot water is generated from solar tubes on the roof and triple-glazed windows give the contemporary property an energy rating of A3.
Lane House, Killincarrig Manor, The Burnaby, Greystones, Co Wicklow, €555,000 Agent: O'Gorman Properties This semi-detached property was in its former life a coach house. Completely converted and in turn-key condition, the footprint now extends to 125sq m. The two -bedroom mews enjoys 4m-high ceilings and a cut-stone façade.
Recent mews sales:
5 Church Lane, Rathmines, Dublin 6 Extending to 255sq m, behind a deceptive exterior, the mews designed by CODA architects was asking €1.4 million. It sold within a few months achieving €1.515 million through Sherry FitzGerald in July 2015.
116 Baggot Lane, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 This former coach house was designed by Gerry Murphy of MCA and retains its original walls to the rear. With a footprint of 186sq m the property initially asking €1.5 million, sold in December 2015 for €1.4 million through Colliers.