Flip your way up to your dream home - D4-style

For this home-owner, buying a property, giving it a stylish refurb and selling it on has been the path to her ‘forever’ home

When Debi Flynn bought a mews property on Waterloo Lane in Dublin’s Ballsbridge back in 2014, it was with a view to refurbishing the property and selling it on. What she didn’t know then, however, was that it was to be the first of several successful property “flips”.

The purchase – which was quite drawn out – happened following a marriage break-up, and the sale of the family home on nearby Wellington Road.

The three-bedroom home, bought for about €775,000, needed a revamp for modern living.

The builder wasn’t great, and I had to take over half way through the job, but I learned a huge amount

A small extension of about 11sq m was part of the plan, creating a large open plan space, measuring some 144sq m (1550sq ft). Underfloor heating, a new kitchen and an open tread staircase were also part of the property’s transformation.


An estate agent by profession, Flynn has also worked in interior design, and had previously refurbished another mews property for a friend, as well as renovating and fitting out Node, the funkily-styled shared living space on Pembroke Street Upper. So, she was ably equipped to set about transforming the mews home – despite the challenges.

“The builder wasn’t great, and I had to take over half way through the job, but I learned a huge amount,” she says.

During the refurb, Flynn acquired another property close by, also on Waterloo Lane, which is listed as having sold for €880,000 in December 2018.

This time, however, Flynn thought she had found a new family home, and quickly set about putting her magic touch to the project, bringing a crisp homeliness to the property, with clever features and top-end fixtures, including Crittall-style windows, Quooker tap and a show-stopper kitchen. She also boosted the home’s energy efficiency to an A3 rating.

In the meantime, she sold her first home on the Lane, achieving €1.225 million in May 2020 – a considerable gain, before renovation costs.

“It’s all about timing, I was lucky,” she recalls.

However, Flynn’s plans for the home changed when love intervened and another renovation project presented itself.

Her partner’s home, a three-bed end-of-terrace on Merrion View Avenue, also in Ballsbridge, was ripe for renovation, and Flynn set about a high-end refresh of the property, culminating in the property selling for €1.5 million in May 2021.

A forever home?

Having initially bought Waterloo Lane as a forever home, Flynn was open to moving on again. She had sold her previous properties with the same agent – Rena O’Kelly, then with Knight Frank and now with Sherry Fitzgerald – who had a property in mind for the couple.

The sale of the two-storey over basement protected period home was off-market, but it reminded O’Kelly of Flynn’s Wellington Road home, and so she suggested it to her.

It was also in Ballsbridge. Although Flynn grew up on the northside, she has taken the Dublin 4 locale to heart, and all her purchases have been in this postcode; confusing for the local postman as she keeps popping up in a new property!

Flynn was smitten, and so sold her Waterloo Lane property, achieving €1.45 million for the home earlier this year, and the couple moved in.

The challenge this time around was directing the refurbishment from overseas, as the couple temporarily relocated to the south of France while the house was being done up.

Rather than build the traditional box at the back, Flynn opted for a feature window at the back, using a young architectural practice, Studio Ambacht, who she says were “amazing”.

You have to disassociate if you want to trade up and move on

Again, Flynn went for a muted interior aesthetic, with muted gold and marble tones in the kitchen, and clever concealed storage space.

The garden was landscaped by Shirley Coleman, with cabinetry by Cillian Johnston and Miller Stone for worktops.

So is this it for Flynn, now that she has been bitten by the bug of moving on up?

“It’s very cathartic, I do like moving,” she says, but adds that she has found her forever home.

“I’m not moving again!”

But a further “flip” could be on the cards.

She sees potential in shops in key areas such as Donnybrook and Ballsbridge, looking at the potential of an apartment over a shop.

“Nobody’s looking at them,” she says.

Stacking up the figures: Flipping tips

When renovating a property with the aim of selling it on, making sure your figures stack up is key. It can be all too easy to over-spend while losing track of the eventual sales price.

“You don’t want to go hugely to town,” advises Flynn, adding, for example, that a cap on prices will typically apply to a mews-type property, for example, as it will to other specific property types.

If you don’t have the time, energy and skill set, don’t do it

Picking the right property to flip, is also important. Flynn likes a property that hasn’t been touched in 20-25 years, so she isn’t paying for expensive interiors that have gone out of fashion and will have to be ripped out.

“That’s kind of the sweet spot,” she says.

You also need to make sure you’re not over-paying for it.

So before you buy, “you have to do your comps [comparable prices]” she says.

And remember, don’t pick a property just because you like it – you have to think of the end buyer.

“You have to disassociate if you want to trade up and move on,” she says.

It’s also about having the determination to see it through – important in the current somewhat volatile market.

“If you don’t have the time, energy and skill set, don’t do it,” she advises.

When it comes to saving money when renovating, Flynn suggests that rather than following the trend of having brass or chrome light-switches, for example, she keeps them all plain white, which cuts costs.

“It all adds up,” she says, adding a design reason for this stance also: “You don’t want to make them a feature.”

She likes a common colour palette – in one of her Waterloo Lane properties she painted Dulux Heritage White on all the interior walls – which can be another way of managing costs.