An early Victorian gate lodge has been revamped as a small but very smart modern one-bed house roughly the size of a one-bed apartment. Nicola and Alan Fitzpatrick, the young couple who in 2017 bought Abilene Lodge, a 48sq m (516sq ft) property near the top of Newtownpark Avenue in Blackrock, Co Dublin, are moving on: their home is now for sale through Sherry FitzGerald seeking €495,000.
Buying and renovating the lodge, a protected structure, was something of a family affair: Nicola's great-aunt lived in the lodge from 1959 until her death in 2015 and the couple bought it once probate was complete. Then they asked Nicola's aunt, architect Sinead McCarthy of The Architects in Dún Laoghaire, to tackle the renovation.
Getting planning permission wasn’t easy – plans for a two-storey extension were refused before permission was granted for a single-storey ground-floor extension.
The result is a bright modern home behind the original exterior of a gate lodge built in 1840 at the entrance of Abilene, a listed house on three acres built in 1790. (Owned by the Findlater family until the death of Dorothea Findlater in 2017, Abilene was bought by the Department of Education in 2018.)
The lodge’s standout feature is its kitchen/living room at the rear with a wall of floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors opening onto a tiny gravelled patio – with room for a table and chairs – enclosed by high stone walls. On a sunny August afternoon, it’s a spot sheltered by tall trees in the grounds of the big house behind – and there’s surprisingly little noise from traffic on busy Newtownpark Avenue outside the front door.
Nearly everything in the house is white, from walls and ceilings to the pale porcelain-tiled floors in the hall and kitchen/living room, the Carrera marble kitchen worktops, the kitchen units and polished white marble tiles in the fully tiled bathroom – although this has a contrasting black-tiled floor. The high-ceilinged kitchen/living room is made even brighter by a wide rooflight over the kitchen counter.
There’s room for a washing machine in a utility cupboard next to the bathroom and storage cupboards with cedar cladding on the back patio. A floor-to-ceiling window in the hallway is where the front door used to be, and looks onto greenery on Abilene’s land. The double bedroom at the front of the house has mirrored built-in wardrobes.
There’s another tiny gravelled patio – also with space to sit – at the front of the house, shielded from Newtownpark Avenue by a curved hedge. There’s room to park a car on a sliver of council land next to Abilene’s entrance gates. Abilene Lodge is near a bus stop at the top of Newtownpark Avenue, a short way from the busy White’s Cross junction on the N11.