Well, well, well: Ranelagh refurb surprise

When the former owner of Lock’s restaurant began restoring this late Regency house it was in a terrible state, but a careful eco approach – that unearthed a working well – and Scandinavian design influences have transformed it

While in Mexico, Claire Douglas fell for an Irishman and ended up coming to Ireland and opening renowned Locks restaurant in Dublin’s Portobello, which she ran for 28 years.

After selling the business and the family home on Bloomfield Avenue in Portobello, she bought 25 Mount Pleasant Avenue Upper, which was in a serious state of disrepair. “It was really dreadful and had been badly treated. The house was in three bedsits but was a joy to renovate and gave me a great sense of reward.”

Douglas ’s Danish heritage is evident in the many Scandinavian touches throughout, and now number 25 is for sale through Hunters for €825,000.

This is a house with a soul that has been carefully renovated, preserving its early Regency integrity while adding eclectic elements and perfectly combining old and new. The renovation and extension were overseen by Mesh Architects and took a year to complete.


This property is as green as a period house can be, except for the fireplaces, which Douglas insisted on keeping for aesthetic reasons.

The roof over the new extension, which houses the modern kitchen and library, is planted with Sedum, which acts as an air filter and gives the extension 60 per cent more insulation than a normal roof. There is also a rainwater harvesting system, which provides water for showers and the washing machine. With 20 solar panels – all hidden from view – Douglas has not had to heat water since the start of May.

Well discovered
A hidden treasure has to be an old well predating the house that was found during the renovation. These are a rarity in period properties in Dublin, and Douglas has incorporated it into the house's design, giving the library a wonderful riparian setting. The light-filled library, which features wall-to-wall bookcases, has glass doors leading out to the well.

The front hall, with its original flagstones, is flanked by a diningroom and drawingroom. Each room has new sash windows and shutters with high ceilings, and the diningroom has the original coving and ceiling roses.

The fireplaces in each room are original and were marbleised in the Victorian era to reflect the Regency period.

The kitchen is modern, with a polished Ardex concrete floor that glistens when the morning light floods though the full-width glass patio doors.

The southeast-facing garden accessed from the kitchen and library is planted with box hedging. This gives it a Victorian feel while combining modern effects such as a giant concrete dining table. Rhododendrons, Angelica, crab apples and herbs surround the three raised vegetable planters made of salvaged red brick.

Upstairs, three small bedrooms and a large master bedroom, all of which have original fireplaces and mahogany stained floors, share a large family bathroom with a roll-topped bath and double shower. A further shower-room and bathroom complete the house.

This is a great example of a meticulous period restoration that allows the personality of its owner to shine through.