What happens when two financial whizz-kids get together to buy their marital home? Spoiler alert: they don’t throw caution to the wind.
“We viewed probably 60 houses,” laughs financial consultant Caroline Kirrane of her and husband Barry Scott’s two-year house hunt back in 2014.
“We had a spreadsheet with all the characteristics – we valued houses per square foot, whether they were south-facing or not, how many bedrooms they had. We even calculated the rental yield.”
Unlike other buyers of grand period properties, their priority wasn’t to find a little piece of history. “We were just looking for value. You get a lot of house for your money.”
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Caroline runs a company called Deconstructing Finance, which trains small businesses to understand their finances better, and lectures at a range of prestigious bodies such as the Irish Management Institute, the Institute of Directors and Trinity College.
“As two people who work in finance, we were wondering how else would you buy a house?”
Even so, in the end, their purchase of No 17 Upper Leeson Street on a fine Victorian terrace near the canal for €1.41m wasn’t a completely hard-boiled decision – though it ticked all the boxes. “There was a lot of head over heart, but we did fall in love with it. It is a beautiful house.”
The recent history of the three-storey over- basement townhouse mirrors the rise and fall of the Irish property market over the past decade or so. It had formerly been divvied up into flats, until a major overhaul in 2007 returned it to use as a single family home. However, by the time Caroline and Barry saw it, No 17 was being rented out once more and was on the market as a receiver’s sale.
They needed only to invest in a little TLC for the interiors, laying parquet floors and elegant grey carpets, painting, upgrading the bathrooms, fixing the roof and adding built-in wardrobes and damp proofing the former coal cellar.
A flight of granite steps lead up to the front door with its delicate fanlight. The entrance hall has a chandelier and Carrara marble tiled floor, as well as crisp white panelling and fresh cornice work – which is a feature in all the main rooms.
There are two adjoining reception rooms running the depth of the property from front to back, with matching marble fireplaces, both of which are in working order. The floor is parquet and period sash windows are in place. There is a study or potential bedroom on the return.
The working rooms are downstairs on the garden level with a large open-plan kitchen/dining room with quartz-topped island, five-ring gas hob, lots of storage, and a pantry area with Belfast sink that opens onto the basement and is handy for housing the couple’s bikes. To the rear is a guest WC and storage-cum-utility room that offers excellent overflow space and access to the garden.
Floor-to-ceiling concertina doors open from the dining area onto the rear west-facing garden. The city garden is split level with a grassed area on the lower level and steps to a seating area that catches the evening sun. The garden is walled on all sides and low maintenance.
Back inside, there is a spacious bedroom on the first floor with a 14ft high ornate ceiling, black marble fireplace and en suite. It would originally have been the drawing room, points out Caroline, as the owners of such townhouses liked to be seen by passers-by. There is another bedroom to the rear and a third bedroom that Caroline and Barry use as a study on the return.
The couple chose the bedroom on the second floor as their master suite because of its views – it is double aspect – over to the Romanian Orthodox Church around the corner on Dartmouth Road. They installed a full wall of built-in wardrobes, while the sandstone fireplace is in working order so it would be possible.
The fifth bedroom sits to the rear of the master suite, while the return on the top floor, which has a Velux window, doubles as storage space and as Caroline’s dressing room.
The property is in immaculate order, and with decor by Helen Turkington is decked out in fashionable shades of grey and white. It would make an ideal family home or a townhouse for someone looking for a suitably grand Dublin base for entertaining.
“It’s a formal house. The dimensions are grand,” says Caroline, laughing, “I’m from a small town in the west of Ireland and I definitely had moments when I was walking around thinking, it’s far from this I was raised!”
There is no off-street parking at No 17, a fact that didn’t worry Caroline and Barry as they cycle everywhere. On-street parking is available across the street or around the corner on Dartmouth Road, and two-year residents’ parking discs are available.
Caroline says she will miss the fact that No 17 is so central to the city and restaurants. “If friends are doing anything, or up from the country, they would always stop in Dublin for a night because you’re so handy and they’d drop in for a cup of tea. It’s been a real hub for girls’ nights and get-togethers.”
Caroline and Barry have already purchased a house less than 1km away, something a little smaller – “there are only the two of us, and it’s hard to justify this much space,” says Caroline. It comes as no surprise to learn that they followed much the same approach to house hunting as before. “We don’t do much without a spreadsheet in this house,” she laughs.
No 17 is three minutes by bike from Grafton Street, and there are good restaurants across the road at Forest & Marcy, the Canal Bank Cafe is, says Caroline, a favourite for brunch, while the Sussex above O’Brien’s legendary pub is a regular for smokies.
Prospective buyers in search of schools will find St Conleth’s, John Scottus junior school, Ranelagh Multi-D, Loreto on the Green, and the Institute of Education, all within easy walking distance.
Era: 18th Century
Agent: Property Partners O’Brien Swaine (01) 298 8508
Viewing: By appointment only
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