From ducklings to swan: Portobello home transformed from flats to a three-bed for €1.195m

Victorian house with family-friendly layout and south-facing town garden

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Address: 49 South Circular Road, Portobello, D8
Price: €1,195,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald
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Those who can see past a tired and rundown-looking home can turn perceived ugly ducklings into stylish swans.

The owners of No 49 South Circular Road in Portobello, Dublin, once a flatland heartland, bought the house in 2017 when it came to market as a pre-63 property of 212sq m (2,281sq ft).

It was set out in five flats; one three-bedroom unit; three one-beds and one studio and had an asking price of €700,000. According to the Property Price Register, Apartment 1 of No 49 SCR sold for €770,000 in August of that year.

Simon Quinn, who works in property management, had an excellent contacts book of subcontractors and architects, while his wife, Clare O’Brien Quinn, brought the colour and decor know-how.


The property already had lovely proportions and features, starting with its railed front garden, its wide hall setting the tone with its lovely decorative plasterwork. This is now painted in rich reds by Paint and Paper.

Together they renovated it. They replaced uPVC windows to the front with timber sash double-glazed units, rewired and replumbed, upgraded the heating system to include three different zones and stylish cast-iron radiators that suited the period good looks of the listed building.

Most impressively, they added only the tiniest of extensions, just 3m, to the rear to even out its footprint. They reconfigured the layout and installed loads of glazing, both to the walls and roof, to make the most of its southerly aspect. They also raised the roof, capping it in sleek-looking aluminium.

By reinstating interconnecting doors between its two reception rooms, which are almost mirror images of each other, the space now enjoys a dual aspect and is washed in light thanks to the large fenestrations. Painted in Irish company Fleetwood’s Celestial Blue, it is a heavenly space, with ceiling heights that extend to 3.3m. But it isn’t overdone; it’s warm and feels homely enough to put your feet up on its jewel-coloured velour velvet sofas.

They installed a guest toilet under the stairs and put in concrete steps to take you down to what is now a broken-plan space comprising dining, kitchen and living room, all connected but separate enough to facilitate family life without feeling on top of each other.

In the dining room, a bar with overhead racks for glasses catches the eye.

This leads through to a large, light-filled kitchen, designed by Noel Dempsey, where there are fashionable black units on two sides, one of which conceals a utility cupboard with room for washer and dryer.

A large island punctuates the space, and large-format sliding glass doors open out to a sun-filled terrace that looks across to St Kevin’s, the former Church of Ireland, a sandstone edifice designed by Thomas Drew and converted into apartments in the mid-1990s.

The TV area has a deep picture window and seat where you could read a book and survey the kids playing outside.

The back garden faces due south and gets sun all day in various parts of its L-shaped layout. Its concrete paving slabs have been painted a trendy black, which will add even more heat to the walled space.

The first of the property’s three generous double bedrooms is on the hall return. The family bathroom adjoins it.

There are two more doubles on the first floor. The main bedroom, to the front, spans the width of the house and includes an internal shower en suite.

The BER-exempt property, which was built in 1853 and now extends to 215sq m (2,314sq ft), is seeking €1.195 million through Sherry FitzGerald.

Alanna Gallagher

Alanna Gallagher

Alanna Gallagher is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in property and interiors