Look inside: Refurbished Rathgar period six-bed with double-height kitchen-diningroom and sunny private garden

Elegant period details and impressive contemporary features create superb, light-filled home

Address: 18 Highfield Road, Rathgar, Dublin 6
Price: €4,650,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald

During the property boom of the noughties, “flipping” was a big thing, as savvy investors snapped up houses, did them up and resold them, taking advantage of fast-rising property prices to turn a tidy profit. Number 18 Highfield Road in Rathgar was one such property, a semidetached period two-storey-over-garden-level house that was badly in need of a complete overhaul from top to bottom.

It was bought by an architect couple in 2012 for €835,000; they sold it two years later for a not-too-shabby €3.3 million, according to the Property Price Register, but not before completely refurbishing the property, adding impressive contemporary design features to turn this period house into a superb, light-filled home.

The current owners have lived happily here with their four children for the past 10 years, making full use of the stunning open-plan double-height kitchen/diningroom on the garden level, the magnificent interconnecting reception rooms on the hall level, and the wonderful, private 165ft southwest-facing back garden, which gets the sun most of the day.

As much as they have enjoyed living in Dublin 6, however, the couple, who have always had a grá for the sea, have decided to move towards the coast, and so number 18 Highfield Road, which extends to 365sq m (3,929sq ft) with an additional garage space to the side measuring 33sq m (355sq ft), is for sale through Sherry FitzGerald, seeking €4.65 million.


The house was in walk-in condition when the owners bought it in 2014, but they have maintained the house to a high standard since, making several upgrades over the years and investing in the upkeep of the front and back gardens, hiring a stonemason with expertise in lime masonry to work on the boundary walls. The owners also installed a solar collector, which uses a thermodynamic heat-pump system to provide hot water, and just recently put in a new gas boiler and pump.

But it’s the architectural work of the previous owners that still resonates throughout number 18 Highfield Road, and makes it special. When you go up the granite steps and through the original oak hall door with glazed side panel, you see the unexpected. While the hall has its traditional cornicing, dado rail and archway, the original timber floorboards are brightly painted, and at the end of the hallway is a huge picture window overlooking the kitchen/dining room and looking out to the back garden and away to the Dublin Mountains beyond. The window also brings lots of light in, making this one of the brightest and most welcoming period hallways you’re likely to see.

The contemporary vibe continues in the adjoining reception rooms to the right. To the front is the dining room, which fits a huge dining table for entertaining multiple guests, plus a baby grand piano and extensive built-in shelving. There’s a marble mantelpiece and fireplace and a large window overlooking the front with both working shutters and plantation shutters. The drawing room to the rear has a huge bay window drenched in sunlight overlooking the back garden, and a white marble mantelpiece with brass surround and slate hearth. A window to the side looks down on the kitchen and dining space at garden level. Both rooms have wide-plank floors, and all the elegant period details including cornicing, centre roses and picture rails. The rooms are separated by double folding doors, but really you’d keep this whole area wide open to get the sense of space and style.

Across the hall is a study/library with painted timber floor, sash window with working shutters and plantation shutters, recessed solid-wood stove and lots of built-in shelving, making this an ideal room for working from home.

Steps lead down from the hall to a guest WC with painted floorboards and a Villeroy & Boch wash-hand basin on an antique-style pedestal, and on down to garden level, where the wow factor is notched up another level. The double-height, open-plan kitchen, breakfast and dining room is made for modern living and also for entertaining guests in style. The ceiling in the dining area goes up to five metres, with a backdrop wall clad in oak, and bifold glass doors with three tall windows above opening out to the rear patio, creating a wall of glass that keeps the area bathed in warm light all day. Look up and you see the windows in the hall and drawing room looking down, and a nice feature pendant light in the centre.

The kitchen section is single height, with floor-to-ceiling matt white storage units, two big pantries, integrated Electrolux fridge and freezer, Siemens twin oven and five-ring gas hob, and a stainless steel countertop. There’s also a centre island with marble countertop, breakfast counter, Franke double sink unit and Siemens dishwasher. The whole space, including the garden level hallway, is laid in terrazzo flooring with underfloor heating. There’s a side entrance from an outdoor courtyard into the hall, and this is the handy entrance that the family use most often in their day-to-day comings and goings.

Also at this level is a utility room with tiled floor, shelving and sink unit, plumbed for washer and dryer, and with a door out to the back garden, a storeroom with tiled floor, a kids’ playroom and a family/TV room that could easily be adapted as a sixth bedroom.

Going up to the first floor, you pass two windows looking out to the rear that bring more light in; there are three double bedrooms facing to the front. They’re not the vast bedrooms you might expect in a period house, but they’re perfectly sized for a family with children. Each of these bedrooms has lovely views over leafy Highfield Avenue, which links Palmerston Park with Rathgar village.

The house is set back a good 100ft from the road, affording privacy and minimising traffic noise. There’s a single bedroom looking out to the side, and the main bedroom suite – the largest – looks out to the back of the house, and has a fine en suite with tiled floor, a bath and separate shower with tiled walls, a double sink in black marble, a large mounted mirror, built-in alcove shelving and a picture window looking out to the back garden and the mountains. There’s also a spacious walk-in wardrobe with sash window and plenty of hanging space. All the bedrooms benefit from the period high ceilings, so they feel both cosy and airy.

The main bathroom has quirky architectural features, such as the glazed ceiling that allows you to shower under blue skies or stars and a frosted window to bring light in from the rear of the house. It’s partially tiled with subway tiles and has a separate bath and shower, wash-hand basin with marble surround and wall-mounted mirror and storage.

The back garden speaks for itself: private, 165 metres long, with little overlooking it except the Dublin Mountains in the distance. It’s fully landscaped, with a wall-to-wall patio off the kitchen that will come into its own as an alfresco dining and entertaining space during the good weather. The garden is surrounded by original stone walls, and granite paving stones bordered by beech trees and wide beds lead up along the lawn to a family play area with recessed trampoline, a wooden-fenced pets’ corner, a soft play area for small children and a putting green. Gates to the back allow access from the rear if needed.

To the side is a large garage measuring 33sq m (355sq ft), which offers ample storage, and has some of the original brickwork from the house. This could be converted to more living space, subject to planning permission.

Out front is a 100ft landscaped garden with parking for several cars, large beds edged with sandstone paving and bordered with mature trees, seasonal flowers and shrubs.

The owners say they will miss Rathgar, with its shops, cafes and restaurant, nearby walks by the river Dodder and proximity to Milltown Golf Club, Dartry Health Club and Dartry Tennis Club. However, they’re looking forward to their next move, they say, and hope new owners enjoying the unique architectural features of this fine, updated period home.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist