Period jewel in crown of Rathfarnham scheme for €1.5m

This sympathetic restoration of a Georgian double-fronted villa sits at the centre of a small new homes scheme

  • Address: Riversdale, Butterfield Avenue, Rathfarnham
  • Price: € 1,500,000
  • Agent: DNG
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There’s a new kind of infill development gathering momentum in Dublin’s suburbs. Builders are eyeing up period houses with generous grounds to build new homes on the surrounding lands while refurbishing the existing period property.

Bushnell Development, who bring Riversdale House on Rathfarnham’s Butterfield Avenue to market, has form with this type of old and new hybrid development following last year’s launch of high profile new homes in the grounds of Neptune House in Blackrock while subdividing the original house into four luxury apartments with period features.

The original villa-style Riversdale House until recently stood forlorn and in need of full refurbishment. Even still, it remained an exquisite property with beguiling proportions and plenty of period features. The house dates from around 1780 and its wide hall with soaring 12ft high ceiling heights and fine plasterwork really makes a statement entrance.

“We conserved what was left,” explains conservationist architect Neil Donlan, of David Slattery Conservation Architects, whose work on historic houses include Belvedere House, Mullingar and numbers 14 and 15 St Stephen’s Green, aka the Little Museum of Dublin and Hatch & Co.

The result is a lovely low-key make-under rather than a brash makeover thanks to Donlan’s consultation on the restoration works, and the conscientious efforts of architects Ferreria and the developer.

The result will appeal to lovers of period properties because its 18th century character has been retained intact for the next owner to enjoy. Its original window designs dotted with small amber glass panes, remain in situ, as do all the original architraves.

Riverdale House hallway

The developer had wanted to paint the hall all white but staging and interior design company, House and Garden Furnishings, convinced them instead to paper the walls above the dado rail in Farrow & Ball Wisteria, a hand-printed design. A soft colour below adds contrast and makes an impactful entrance.

The house, which measures 309sq m / 3336sq ft, has been spruced up throughout and given a restrained monochromatic colour scheme using period paint specialist Farrow & Ball’s Pitch Black to create uniformity in the original wide plank flooring. There was a lot of concern around the decision to use black, says Muriel Simpson of House and Garden Furnishings but the layering of rugs underfoot helped to soften the effect.

Riverdale House sitting room
Riverdale House kitchen

A smart square sitting room sits to the left of the entrance hall. On the right is a dining room that leads through to a kitchen featuring hand-painted units by Fitzgeralds of Tinahely. There are white Velstone counters, mainly Siemens appliances and a rounded corner island that includes a breakfast bar. This separation of the cooking area of the kitchen from the breakfast room complements the original layout nicely.

Riverdale House interconnecting rooms

At the end of the hall there are two doors leading into interconnecting rooms spanning the width of the property.

The only change made to this space, flooded with light on three sides by original glazing, is that the windows overlooking the front garden and Butterfield Avenue beyond have been replaced by French windows opening out to a painted timber deck. Steps lead down to a south-facing granite terrace. Traffic on the busy road is audible, but decreases substantially indoors, and is something that new owners will probably get used to, especially with such lovely rooms to move about in.

Riverdale House bathroom

The accommodation is all situated at garden level, with a light-filled period-style family bathroom situated on the return. Below stairs feels incredibly restful thanks to the deep pile carpets, wide hall and an absence of built-in wardrobes in the dual aspect bedrooms. Save for the main bedroom, which has a dressing area and en suite, the other rooms are uncluttered by wardrobes, which is probably not practical for everyday life but Simpson suggests freestanding wardrobes might work better along with further storage in the hall, under the stairs and under the front steps.

In May of last year Bushnell launched a new homes scheme in the grounds of Neptune House in Blackrock. Prices there started from €975,000 and there are two remaining four bedroom detached houses for sale each seeking €1.2 million. In Neptune House three of the four apartments are still available; ranging in price from €1.4 million to €1.5 million.

On the grounds of Riversdale House is a new homes scheme of 10 four- and five-bed homes launched in late 2016. Prices started from €775,000 for the four-beds and €875,000 for the five beds and all units are now sold.

Riversdale House is one of two properties of the same name in Rathfarnham. Around the corner on Ballyboden Road is the other Riversdale House and the final family home of poet WB Yeats.

Agent DNG is seeking €1.5 million for Riversdale House on Butterfield Avenue on 0.34 of an acre.