Picture perfect in Ranelagh for €2.75m

Glenthorne on Sandford Road has undergone a dramatic transformation, using the best craftspeople and designers to balance period elegance with a contemporary twist

Madeleine Lyons reports on 134 Sandford Road, Ranelagh a Victorian redbrick that has been lavishly transformed into one of Dublin's finest family homes and is now on the market for €2.75 million. Video: Bryan O'Brien


Glenthorne in Ranelagh is a big Victorian house with many stories to tell. When the current owners, Niall and Fiona Wall moved in about six years ago, the man who delivered their Aga recalled a happy childhood growing up there when it had been a Church of Ireland children’s home, Kirwan House.

Later, it was run as a nine-bedroom guesthouse, then the Walls bought it post-auction for about €2.5 million in 2007. Now it goes for auction on May 7th with an AMV of €2.75 million through Colliers (the same price it had guided at auction in 2007).

The transformation that has taken place at 134 Sandford Road in the interim has been dramatic. Niall, who is Ardagh Group chief executive, and Fiona have form when it comes to restoring period properties and their black book namechecks some of the best expertise in the country. Under architect Michael McGill, the two-storey, over-garden property has been extended by almost a third to 5,116sq ft/480 sq m with the addition of an orangery at garden level, and a two-storey extension to the side of the house.

Up a flight of granite steps and off the original hall is a cleverly executed dining/reception room to the right in the first floor of the new extension. Running the depth of the house, it is a great entertaining space with two identical marble fireplaces, one of which originated from the former Goff family home in Dun Laoghaire. The centre roses and cornice work replicate exactly the original plasterwork in the main body of the house, and two painted marble-effect Doric columns separate the spaces with a grand flourish.

The paintwork, by decorative artist, Nat Clements, has transformed a very traditional canvas. The cream wood-panel effect in the hall and reception rooms creates a light, contemporary feel, while the drawingroom, livingroom and study also on this level have more luxurious finishes.

Contemporary twist
Fiona Wall says she likes to start a room design with textiles and wall colours, and after that the rest falls into place. The effect is an eclectic mix of period living with a contemporary French twist. The sumptuous window dressings in all the reception rooms feature double sets of heavy silk curtains on the bay windows. The soft furnishings were sourced and made by interior designer Olive Treanor, including the cushion-strewn window seats. Curtains and carpets are included in the sale, which is a bonus as they would be hard to improve upon.

A relaxed linen effect colour scheme in subtle seascape hues runs through the decor in the three double bedrooms and small single upstairs. The master is located to the front of the house, which is close to a busy road, and alongside is a roomy en suite that has replaced a fifth bedroom. The walk-in wardrobe crafted in dark wood has been specifically designed with the master of the house in mind.

Liveable and stylish
At garden level the eat-in kitchen has that liveable yet French provencale feel. Extensive bespoke wood cabinets in a light seagreen and polished oak floors connect to the spacious orangery that works as a breakout dining/living space. Light pours through the vaulted glass roof, and four French windows introduce the garden outside.

The large east-facing rear garden was designed by landscape gardener Paul Doyle, and at first glance it’s a simple enough space, with the requisite trampoline in one corner. Closer inspection reveals careful planting of white hydrangeas, agapanthus, and simple border flowers that line the foot of a delightful shady arbour covered in white banksia climber rose. This leads to a charming two-bed guest lodge, with its own access, that will appeal to potential buyers seeking staff or au pair accommodation.

The Walls are currently renovating a property on one acre on Cross Avenue in Blackrock, that they bought in late 2012 for €5.25 million. Fiona is drawing on a lot of the same expertise for the new refurbishment, and after so many period restorations she says this time they’re incorporating more modern elements too. As that project heads towards completion later this year it’s time to move on from Glenthorne.

It’s hard to see what anyone moving into this house could do to improve it. It has enhanced its period elegance while incorporating every modern luxury including underfloor heating, central vacuum, a state-of-the-art sound system, and double-glazed sash windows. The location, so close to the buzz of Ranelagh village, will appeal to young families.

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