Su­per­sized turn­around on Sandy­ford es­tate

The own­ers of Ash­ton Wood sold their big­ger home, Ash­ton Lodge, re­tain­ing some of the rear gar­den to build a new prop­erty of 3,560sq ft/330sq m with di­rect ac­cess into the Sandy­ford Hall es­tate. Now it’s for sale for ¤895,000

The Irish Times - Thursday - Property - - Front Page - Madeleine Lyons Prop­erty Edi­tor

It is not of­ten you hear about a Big House owner who har­boured dreams of liv­ing in the neigh­bour­ing hous­ing es­tate. But that’s how it was for the owner of Ash­ton Wood in Stepa­side. Ten years ago, the fam­ily lived in Ash­ton Lodge, a 200-year-old ex­tended pe­riod prop­erty off busy Kil­go­b­bin Road – the main artery ris­ing from the M50 to­wards Stepa­side and the Dublin Moun­tains.

“The road out­side was too busy for our son who was seven at the time to go out and play. He was sit­ting on the TV and Play Sta­tion, while be­hind us there was an es­tate filled with kids who were con­stantly out­side play­ing with each other.”

The es­tate is Sandy­ford Hall, a size­able res­i­den­tial es­tate of red­brick town­houses built by Deane brothers in 1993. The own­ers de­cided to sell their home and re­tain some of the rear gar­den to build a new prop­erty with di­rect ac­cess into the es­tate.

“We had been look­ing over the fence at this other world for years, and sud­denly ours and our chil­dren’s life­styles changed com­pletely. We were part of this new com­mu­nity and they be­came our friends.”

That prop­erty is Ash­ton Wood, which opens on to Sandy­ford Hall Green, a res­i­den­tial cul-de-sac be­hind the strip of shops with the Cen­tra at the en­trance to the de­vel­op­ment. While houses here were built to a com­fort­able fam­ily size, Ash­ton Wood, stands at 3,560sq ft/330sq m, prac­ti­cally dwarf­ing its neigh­bours.

The house was clearly built with no ex­pense spared and this is re­flected in the fin­ish – porce­lain tiling, solid wood floors and doors, cop­per fin­ishes on the roof and flash­ing. With an es­ti­mated build cost of about ¤1.2mil­lion, the ask­ing price of ¤895,000 through agent Vin­cent Fin­negan seems like the prop­erty is very much priced to sell.

Es­tate lo­ca­tion

The val­u­a­tion of a prop­erty like this is a tricky one. De­spite its vast floor space and lux­ury fin­ishes, its lo­ca­tion in the midst of a res­i­den­tial subur­ban es­tate – orig­i­nally the key at­trac­tion for the cur­rent owner – could be a turn-off for buy­ers who want all the bells and whis­tles of a high-end prop­erty, but with dis­crete grounds to boot.

The house stands fairly tightly on its site, al­though it is sur­rounded by a num­ber of land­scaped tim­ber pa­tio ar­eas de­signed to fol­low the path of the sun. There is also a rub­ber foam play area for tram­po­lines, swings and slides.

The house it­self was built to a de­sign by Dalkey-based ar­chi­tect Paul O’Lough­lin, who had worked with the de­vel­oper owner on pre­vi­ous in­fill prop­er­ties he had con­structed, mainly around Co Meath.

There is an im­me­di­ate Mediter­ranean feel to Ash­ton Wood. The front hall opens di­rectly into a white porce­lain-floored liv­ing room with vaulted ceil­ings and a curved ma­hogany, brass and iron­work stair­case im­ported from France that makes a dra­matic state­ment.

It is ap­par­ent that lit­er­ally no stone was left un­turned when it came to the over­all fin­ish.

“At that time, 2006, it was the height of the boom,” says the owner, “and there was only one tiler we could get in Ire­land to do this job the way we wanted. It added a huge amount to the cost, and it took them for­ever, so much so that we started call­ing them ‘Tile-an-hour’ be­cause it lit­er­ally took that long to cut and place each one.”

It is clear that the orig­i­nal O’Lough­lin de­sign for Ash­ton Wood was to a cool con­tem­po­rary Euro­pean style, but the owner drew the line at “pared-back min­i­mal­ist” be­cause ul­ti­mately they wanted a fam­ily home.

There are ref­er­ences drawn from a child­hood grow­ing up around the leafy Ed­war­dian thor­ough­fares of Dublin 4 – fan­lights over the dou­ble sets of French win­dows off the liv­ing room and oiled ma­hogany pan­elled dou­ble doors to the ad­join­ing draw­ing room and kitchen.

Con­tem­po­rary Ir­ish art

Un­der­floor heat­ing through­out the down­stairs is in­cor­po­rated up­stairs also in Bre­ton slab con­crete floor­ing.

Apart from min­imis­ing noise trans­fer from floor to floor, it pre­cludes the need for un­sightly ra­di­a­tors. This was clearly a key pri­or­ity for the own­ers of Ash­ton Wood, who have cov­ered their wall space in an im­pres­sive and di­verse col­lec­tion of con­tem­po­rary Ir­ish art, in­clud­ing a num­ber of one-off com­mis­sions by lead­ing Ir­ish artists.

There is al­most a gallery feel to the main re­cep­tion area and draw­ingroom, and any­one with art to hang will de­light in the space on of­fer here.

A most un­usual Nepalese over­man­tel above an in-built stove lends a homely feel to the very open liv­ing area, while the bay-win­dowed draw­ing room has an open fire­place with slate base and cast iron sur­round and dou­ble doors to the rear gar­den.

The New­cas­tle-built kitchen re­verts to a more tra­di­tional coun­try house de­sign, with hand painted units, solid gran­ite sur­faces and traver­tine floors. Off it dou­ble doors lead to a bright sun­room with a vaulted cop­per-roofed ceil­ing and hand­made tim­ber-framed win­dows.

Cop­per has also been in­cor­po­rated on the flash­ing de­tail to the front of the house as the own­ers en­vis­aged a nat­u­ral verdi­gris ef­fect over time – and it is be­gin­ning to bear fruit. At ground level also is a hard­wood-floored study with French win­dows out to the gar­den.

‘‘ At the height of the boom, there was only one tiler we could get in Ire­land to do this job the way we wanted

Ma­ture trees and gar­den

Up­stairs, the lux­ury con­tin­ues with a lav­ishly tiled main bath­room with jacuzzi bath, dou­ble sink and power shower, while the mas­ter bed­room suite en­joys a tran­quil as­pect over­look­ing ma­ture trees and gar­den, with a walk-in wardrobe and an en suite lit by elec­tric Velux win­dows.

There are four fur­ther bed­rooms, three of which are at the other end of the gal­leried land­ing, with two en-suite dou­bles and views on that side of the house to Sandy­ford Hall Green on one side and the orig­i­nal Ash­ton Lodge to the rear.

Ash­ton Wood is cry­ing out for a buyer trad­ing up­wards. The chal­lenge is whether its some­what com­pro­mised lo­ca­tion in the midst of more mod­est homes cur­rently val­ued at less than half the ask­ing price of this prop­erty will sit with the up­wardly mo­bile am­bi­tions of a po­ten­tial buyer.

The selling price on this will be one to watch.

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