Scandi-style hillside home with garden sauna overlooking Killiney Bay for €3.75m

Bespoke property on the side of Dalkey Hill has embraced biodiversity in its sloping wild gardens

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Address: IO House, Torca Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin
Price: €3,750,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald
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An architect-designed house built into the side of Dalkey Hill is both contemporary and comfortable. Floor-to-ceiling windows in all the rooms on two floors open out to a biodiverse wild garden, and even on a wet day in March, it feels almost cosy. With oak parquet and polished concrete floors, IO House has smart fittings with a Scandinavian flavour, an air-to-water heating system, underfloor heating and an A3 Ber.

The house was designed and built in 2013 by architects Boyd Cody and Andrew Lohan so that from the highest point in the garden you could see the sea. Standing on a site that was formerly part of the land belonging to the neighbouring Hill House on Torca Road, it’s high above other houses on the road with clear views across Killiney Bay.

The steeply sloping wild garden was created from scrubland by one of the owners with Chelsea-award-winner Mary Reynolds. Nothing would grow on the compacted soil for two or three years, however, it was restored with 70 downy birch trees planted, along with many different plant species, including fig, pear, plum, wild strawberries and apple trees. No pesticides or herbicides were used developing the garden, where there’s a pond at the front in which frogs spawn every year. The house has a sedum roof; a thermal panel on it heats the water. High in one corner of the garden is a wood-fired sauna; the owners say they can get the fire going, run down the nearby Cat’s Ladder walkway to the Vico swimming spot, and enjoy the sauna on their return.

IO House, Torca Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin, a 274 sq m (2,950 sq ft) detached four-bed, is for sale through Sherry FitzGerald, seeking €3.75 million. The owners’ two daughters are now attending college and the couple are ready to move on. They’ve moved houses roughly every seven years and say “we probably do like a project”.


IO house – the name is Greek and also the name of a moon – is shaped in two wings, nearly at right angles; the front door opens into the downstairs but most of the living space is upstairs, with the livingroom/diningroom/kitchen in the section looking directly over the sea. Most of the bedrooms are in a long wing stretching back into the hill.

Stairs with a glass balustrade lead up to the long open-plan living space; it has floor-to-ceiling windows the length of both sides and a high, beamed ceiling. In the livingroom, as well as in bathrooms and bedrooms, the owners have hung distinctive wooden blinds from Danish company Nolastar. Open shelving in the middle of the space marks the division between the livingroom and dining area which is next to the Silestone-topped island unit and neat kitchen, fitted with oak units. There is a large pantry in a corridor off the kitchen.

At one end of the space, a door opens on to a small patio where another bedroom could be built – there was now-lapsed planning permission for this. A few steps at the far end opposite, just beyond the kitchen, lead down to a bright, high-ceilinged snug; it has a wood-burning stove, wood-panelled walls topped with glass, comfortable couches and a floor-to-ceiling window.

Steps up from the snug lead to the wing of the house stretching back into the hill. A tall door in the hall can be closed, making the bedroom wing soundproof. Off a hall, floored with polished concrete and lined with bookshelves, are three bedrooms and a bathroom.

The two girls’ bedrooms have platform beds, lots of storage and look on to the garden through floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a door. A swing in one of the bedrooms swings into the garden.

A smart family bathroom has frosted full-length windows next to the bath, with an orange Nolastar blind covering a central non-frosted panel.

The main bedroom at the end of the wing has an oak parquet floor, a wide wall of floor-to-ceiling wardrobes and plenty of room for a sofa. Again, floor-to-ceiling windows and doors look over the wild garden. A large en suite with a bath and shower is part-tiled.

Downstairs, off the entrance hall at either end, are two rooms; both are currently work spaces, but could be bedrooms – one has a very smart en suite shower room. This work space, which looks over a rocky outcrop in the front garden, could be the fourth bedroom. One of the owners, a photographer, has a studio at the other side of the front hall; it has concrete walls and a space she can curtain off as a dark room. There’s also a very good-sized laundry room off the front hall.

Outside, there are patio areas and steps leading up and around the garden, where there are views of the sea both through and over the house. The arched sauna is pretty – it came from Estonia to be reassembled here. A door halfway up the side wall opens on to the right of way that leads up from Torca Road on to Dalkey Hill.

There’s lots of room to park at the front, behind a tall electronic gate. IO House is at the very end of Torca Road as it curves part way up the side of Dalkey Hill.

Frances O'Rourke

Frances O'Rourke

Frances O'Rourke, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about homes and property