Italian restoration from bleak to bellissimo in Rathmines

Very special 159sq m property will appeal to classicists and fans of antique furniture

  • Address: 66 Grove Park, Rathmines, D6
  • Price: € 1,050,000
  • Agent: Savills
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A Rathmines house in need of TLC that was snapped up by two Italians has undergone a transformation from bleak to bellissima in no time. 

No 66 Grove Park had a hole in the roof and no heating when the current buyers purchased it for €360,000.

That was in May 2012, at the bottom of the market, and its rehabilitation since has been a labour of love. Illustrator and mural and fresco painter Daniele Archimede spent six months managing the project full-time.

The children’s book illustrator, whose work appears in Spuds and the Spider, by Seamus Ó Conaill, wanted to repeat the sympathetic restoration he and his partner had done on their Milanese apartment, which they had sold to buy the Grove Park house. “We wanted to respect the history of the building and to retain its original layout so that the sensation you got residing here was that of an old building.”

Taking a maximalist approach to the interiors, Archimede started in the hall, where what looks like wallpaper is actually a paint effect .

The living room is formally laid out but feels beautifully symmetrical, thanks in part to more hand-painted effects. Here contrasting borders of colour help to frame the room’s lovely proportions. The property’s many period features – fireplaces, picture rails, fingerplates and brass doorknobs – were intact, save for ceiling roses and some friezes that the pair have since added.

A dark decor style replete with objets and curios everywhere creates a strangely calming ambiance.

The furniture is a mixture of auction finds; the walnut piano in the formal drawing room and the Scottish Regency square piano in the dining room were both found at Mullens of Laurel Park. The mirror over the mantle in the drawing room came from Italy, as did the art nouveau bedhead in the master bedroom.

The floorboards at hall level are a rich chestnut colour, the same shade as a sample of the original boards, and have been coated with a matt sealant to avoid appearing too shiny.

In the dining room the couple kept the original Greek key dado rail and panelling at wainscot level. There are paint effects visible here, too; on half-moon tables in its alcoves – charity shop finds that Archimede paid €10 each for – and a hand-painted garland that embellishes the ceiling rose. Here they entertain friends for dinner and dine on late breakfasts at the weekend, imagining they’re in Downton Abbey, he says, only half joking.

The idea of opening up the two reception rooms was never mooted. “We didn’t want to destroy this beautiful room.”    

There is no open-plan kitchen/living space to the rear of the house, as is so often included in any Irish refurbishment, and that too was part of the couple’s master plan: “We didn’t want to live in the kitchen, as most Irish do,”Archimede says. It is a part of the house they view as a service room, rather like the bathroom, and instead chose to retain the original breakfast room and scullery-size kitchen configuration – the latter now twice its original size as there were two rooms to the rear. This won’t suit all home hunters, but you could open up these two rooms to create a bigger space.

The house has three bedrooms, one on the hall return adjacent to a shower room and two on the first floor. The fourth bedroom has been turned into a very smart bathroom with a decorative Victorian-style tiled floor.

The back bedroom is Archimede’s studio and is hung with artworks by the illustrator. The main bedroom is to the front of the house and features large pieces of free-standing furniture, the kind only rooms with ceilings of this height can take.

Meanwhile, the modern luxuries feature within the very fabric of the building; underfloor heating throughout, insulation in the walls, ceiling and underfoot, new double-glazed timber sash windows, giving the property a D1 Ber rating – not bad considering it has six open fireplaces.

The result is a very special property that will appeal to classicists and fans of antique furniture. A smart purchaser might try and negotiate to keep some of the pair’s collection because it suits the house perfectly. The property, which measures 159sq m/1,711sq ft, is seeking €1.05 million through agent Savills.