Trans­formed coach house and mill for over ¤2m

De­vel­oper at Rath­farn­ham hous­ing scheme saved the best un­til last with this bold and sen­si­tive re­fur­bish­ment of two Geor­gian out­build­ings

The Irish Times - Thursday - Property - - Front Page - Eliz­a­beth Birdthis­tle

The de­vel­op­ment at Bolton Park in Rath­farn­ham – a mix of town­houses and the sale of Bolton Hall – is com­plete, with the fi­nal two prop­er­ties now on the mar­ket. And if there was ever an ex­am­ple of sav­ing the best un­til last, The Coach House and Mill Cot­tage fit the bill per­fectly.

The lat­est of­fer­ings from Neill and Aoife Collins of Home­land on the 4.75-acre site, which they pur­chased in 2015 for ¤4.75 mil­lion, are two pe­riod con­ver­sions.

The first and most in­ter­est­ing is The Coach House; a four-bed 286sq m (3,078sq ft) prop­erty with two court­yards linked by a wrap­around gar­den – where the old coach en­trance arches re­main.

Dat­ing from Geor­gian times, the coach house it­self was pre­vi­ously at­tached to a pa­per mill, and its pe­riod fea­tures add so much in­ter­est in­ter­nally that it is dif­fi­cult not to lay on the su­perla­tives too thick. From bar­relled ceil­ings in the kitchen, din­ingroom and util­ity area, to the port­holes up­stairs, and the in­cred­i­ble orig­i­nal walls which have with­stood the el­e­ments for more than two cen­turies, all com­bine to cre­ate a back­drop which con­trasts com­pletely with the avant-garde in­te­ri­ors by Róisín Laf­ferty.

“I knew we needed to step out­side our com­fort zone with this,” says Neill Collins. “The brief was to be brave and re­ally bold with sharp con­trasts; I wanted the house to breathe qual­ity and have a sense of in­dus­trial lux­ury – be­cause of the con­trast­ing ma­te­ri­als [old gran­ite walls sit against steel ar­chi­traves, oak par­quet sits with poured con­crete floor­ing, and weath­ered brick arches sup­port ul­tra-modern l i ght fit­tings].”

The project was over­seen by Fer­reira Ar­chi­tects, and Collins ad­mits that this part sta­ble-part mill con­ver­sion within a listed build­ing was “one of a kind”.

The plan­ning process was “quite a painful one – as we had to pre­serve the in­tegrity of the orig­i­nal struc­tures with min­i­mal in­ter­fer­ence, while try­ing to be bold at the same time. I knew if we played it safe it would never have worked.”

The prop­erty has two re­cep­tion rooms – one, a dark, in­ti­mate dual-as­pect room in moody blues, and the other, a light-filled gar­den room.

Cen­tral to the house are the kitchen, din­ing and util­ity ar­eas, each of which sit into the bar­relled arched spa­ces, as does a long read­ing room with a clever mir­rored wall act­ing as a trompe l’oeil.

Of in­ter­est is a can­tilevered cus­tom-tiled ta­ble which ex­tends out­doors, and the in­stal­la­tion of bi­fold win­dows means it can ac­com­mo­date 16 for din­ner when the win­dows are open.

The ex­ten­sion of a modern gar­den room sought not to com­pete with the orig­i­nal struc­ture – which Collins de­scribes as “like walk­ing into a time cap­sule”.

The use of colour­ful en­caus­tic-style tiles both in­doors and out­side adds fur­ther in­ter­est to this project – es­sen­tially a tale of con­trasts, and one which Collins de­scribes as the most in­ter­est­ing of his ca­reer.

Mill around

Next door, and on a smaller scale but in­ter­est­ing in its own right too, is Mill Cot­tage (pic­tured left), a two-bed unit ex­tend­ing to 85sq m (915sq ft). Again, a restora­tion project in part of the old mill, the view from the main bed­room is that of the mill race be­low the prop­erty, with the sound of the rush­ing wa­ters be­neath.

Just off the park­ing area to the front of the prop­erty is a tiny gar­den folly.

A pro­tected struc­ture, it cur­rently houses cans of paint, but with its vaulted ceil­ing and gothic win­dows over­look­ing the stream it would make a su­per – al­beit tiny – read­ing room.

Collins’s work con­tin­ues with new projects at Cam­ber­ley Mews in Church­town, a de­vel­op­ment of six fam­ily homes and three du­plex apart­ments, and 16 houses at Stan­ford Park on West­min­ster Road in Foxrock.

In ad­di­tion, there are 25 houses com­ing to the mar­ket at The Rec­tory in Bal­doyle, and out­side Dublin, work has started on a 200-house project at Mun­gret Gate in Lim­er­ick, with a fur­ther 50 houses on the hori­zon for Cork.

Collins be­gan his ca­reer work­ing for his un­cle’s con­struc­tion com­pany in Co Limer- ick at the age of 13.

The in­te­ri­ors of The Coach House will prob­a­bly di­vide opin­ion: some will fall head over heels for it, while oth­ers may de­cide it is far too dar­ing. In either case it has achieved pre­cisely what the de­sign brief out­lined: a bold and brave project that fo­cused on re­pair­ing rather than restor­ing the in­tegrity of the orig­i­nal Geor­gian ar­chi­tec­ture.

Knight Frank is han­dling the sale of both prop­er­ties, which are seek­ing ¤1.6 mil­lion and ¤475,000 re­spec­tively.

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