“My nieces and nephews call this the ‘uppy-downy’ house,” says the owner of 22 Dartmouth Walk, a detached mews house built in 2008 on a residential lane that runs parallel to the Grand Canal in Ranelagh, Dublin 6. The nickname refers to its flipped layout, with the two bedrooms at ground level and a light-filled, open-plan, dual-aspect living area upstairs.
Being up a level ensures a connection with the canal rather than the roadside, says award-winning architect Amanda Bone, who designed this “special” house.
Known for her efficient, practical, uncluttered aesthetic, she acknowledges the challenge of building between extant mews houses in a conservation area to the rear of a protected structure, with planning conditions including accessibility, storage, car parking and window specifications. “It makes for a better project to have constraints such as a difficult context to work in,” says Bone. “Strict regulations help you break problems down and come up with solutions.”
The house fits together as a seamless interior while connecting effortlessly with outdoors. The facade, clad in Wicklow granite, is punctuated with beautifully detailed iroko hardwood windows and screens, and the large front door opens into a reception area with low storage tucked against the original garden wall.
Walking in, away from the canal with its fringe of tall wavy grasses, your eye is drawn immediately along the hall to the south-facing patio garden, visible and accessible through a full-height glass screen and door with rich iroko frames.
Downstairs is floored in a pale industrial-grade epoxy resin, with light-reflecting qualities and heating underneath adding to the feeling of calm. “It is warm all year here,” says the owner, who gets most of her hot water from the solar panels and has added more insulation over the years to warrant a Ber of C2.
To the right of the hall are two double bedrooms, both with built-in wardrobes, and between them are a utility cupboard and two near-identical bathrooms fitted with timeless white subway tiles, marble ledges, wall-hung sanitary ware and neat niches for bottles.
The front bedroom has a long, high window affording privacy; the bright, restful larger bedroom at the rear has a wall of glass with a door to the well-tended suntrap outside. This is planted around the edges and screened from the houses on Dartmouth Square, to the rear, by a line of trees along the wall; an outside tap is fed by rainwater stored in a tank under the flagstones.
There is a key point at which Bone’s desired connection between inside and outside becomes ingeniously apparent. To go upstairs, you walk almost to the garden, whereupon you turn your back on it and ascend the iroko steps, which are lit by a huge glass-topped slot and offer more glimpses of sky through the upstairs front windows. When you get to the top, you can still see the garden through the glass at the bottom.
The design elements are evident and yet restrained; into the wall alongside the steps is cut a discreet notch that continues around the rooms as a kind of inverse skirting.
There is painstaking work in the window frames and panels at each end of the room, specified by Bone and executed by McNally Joinery. At the livingroom end, a wood-burning stove slots into the wall, with bookshelves and low-profile storage above and below the stone hearth and ledge. At the kitchen end is a line of white handleless cupboards, and an island is wrapped in the iroko boards that floor the space. A pull-down ladder gives access to the large attic.
Against this warmly neutral backdrop, the owner has created a characterful home with a considered blend of heirloom furniture, mid-century pieces and low-key finesse. It was a very collaborative project, she says, praising Bone’s adventurous flair for maximising light throughout the 104sq m (1,120sq ft) property. “If I could pick up this house and move it, I would.”
Number 22 Dartmouth Walk – beside Charlemont Luas stop and the neighbourly Dartmouth Square, and a short walk from Ranelagh village and the city centre – is on the market through Mullery O’Gara, with an asking price of €795,000. Amanda Bone is a judge on the RTÉ series Home of the Year, of which the final will be broadcast on April 4th.