Buying a Georgian house subdivided into five flats and turning it into a fine, five-bedroom home set over three levels takes time, perseverance and patience – not to mention deep pockets. The owners of Frankfort House, an impressive and charming pile from the 1850s on Mount Merrion Avenue, who have lived in the 465sq m (5,005sq ft) house for the past 23 years, had a pact. Whatever they did, the deal was the house had to be warm. Triple-glazed windows, a new double boiler and lots of insulation now gives the house a Ber of B3, which is incredible given its almost two-century existence.
It last appeared in The Irish Times in 1999, when it was described as "in need of modernisation" and expected to fetch in excess of IR £550,000. The owners credit conservation architect John Masterson as being "phenomenal" in restoring the house to its original glory, as they tried to keep the original floorplan. "The sitting room [the large dual-aspect room that stretches from front to back with two period fireplaces] was an apartment, but it was a complete mess and the ceilings had been dropped," recalls the owner, a Bostonian artist and life coach. She and her husband upgraded the house in stages.
They engaged award-winning landscape architect and horticultural consultant Jane McCorkell to tackle the rear garden and redesign it for the family’s needs. “Originally it had a much smaller patio, and Jane put in a split-level terrace off the livingroom. It now means that the lower terrace catches the evening sun, but what was really great was there was still lots of lawn for a nine-year-old to play soccer.” Extending to 18m (60ft) in length, and laid out mainly in lawn with mature shrubs and year-round colour, it is particularly lovely in autumn when the russet orange and red hues from the specimen Acer palmatum are in full bloom. A shed provides storage, and there is vehicular and pedestrian access to the rear from South Wood Park.
Masterson executed the interior transformation back to the original layout, which now gives a study plus the super dual aspect drawingroom at hall level, along with a new extension housing a kitchen/dining space and adjacent living room. Four bedrooms, including a principal suite, lie on the top floor.
The fifth bedroom, a home office and gym lie at garden level (it has also been used as an art studio) along with a good-sized utility. This space has the potential to be used as a self-contained apartment should new owners wish. While the old entrance under the outside steps to the front is now a fourth full bathroom, it could be reinstated to its original purpose as an entrance at garden level. Or, as is currently the case, there is direct access from the rear of the property to the home office.
What Frankfort House offers, besides an excellent Ber rating, lovely garden and oodles of space, is a great personality. There isn't a grey room in sight and the colour choice echoes the hues from the autumnal Acers in the rear garden. One of the bathrooms – which were recently overseen by Mary Ryder Design – has mustard encaustic floor tiles "as we wanted a painting on the floor" while the main hall is enveloped in shocking pink.
“We used it in the study first, but I really love it in the hallway as it makes all the period details pop and every time I walk through the front door, it makes me smile,” says the artist owner. For new owners who prefer a more muted palette it’s just a quick cosmetic brush change. More colour is used in the patterned sofas, and the suzani textile cushions which were sourced in Istanbul.
The owners love the versatility of their home: the livingroom off the kitchen was used as a toddler’s playroom, then it graduated to a video games room, and now it is a television room. “It was great as we could monitor what the kids were doing as they grew up, and when they were older they had space in the basement where they could have friends over.”
Now with an empty nest, the owners have placed their colourful home, which has a wealth of period details, on the market through Lisney, seeking €2.95 million.