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
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.
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.