On the market – a former bungalow transformed into a luxury mansion in €1m Celtic Tiger era revamp10/18/2019
Long Acre is a ranch-style house in Enniskerry where everything has been turned on its head, to take maximum advantage of its hilltop position, overlooking some of Wicklow’s most spectacular countryside.
Step into the upstairs living room – at 800 sq ft, not far off an average three-bed semi – and you quickly get the picture: this is the kind of room where proud owners would definitely plonk that oversized red dot to let visiting judges from RTé’s Home Of The Year know that this is their favourite spot in the house.
It’s easy to see why. With large windows in all four walls, the room looks out on to Sugarloaf Mountain through one, Bray Head through another and Dalkey island through yet another. Spin some more and Dun Laoghaire Golf Club comes into view, set against a backdrop of ferries plying back and forth across the Irish Sea.
Long Acre has undergone quite a transformation since its current owners first bought it as a relatively modest split-level bungalow for around €85,000 in 1987. They were attracted by the views, the location and the privacy.
Dubbed by some the ‘Shrewsbury Road of Co Wicklow’, Cookstown Road circumnavigates the Slazenger family’s Powerscourt Demesne. Houses here tend to be set behind automated gates with sweeping driveways and large gardens. Long Acre is on 1.78 acres of landscaped gardens, with terraced areas, water features and sculptures in the grounds.
During the Celtic Tiger in 2004, the owners got planning permission to extend the house and add another floor on top. Initially, the second floor was to be a swish master bedroom with ensuite bathroom, but as conversations with architect Paul Byrne developed, all agreed it would be a crying shame to waste such a panorama on a room in which the occupants would spend most of their time sleeping.
In a house commanding such views from the upstairs floor, why would anyone put the main living area downstairs? So they quickly turned the plans upside down and made the living room the star of the show.
“A double-height hallway with a light well and glass stair balustrade gives a nice feeling of light when you enter the house, but the drama in this house unfolds upstairs,” says Byrne. “Locating the main living room here maximised the use of this space and gave the house a completely new dimension.”
The owners kept the décor in the living room simple, with oak flooring, walls painted in off-white Farrow and Ball and one contrasting wall in red, along with a wall-inserted Heerkens gas fire from Fenton Fires.
And when the sun goes down, the room is ideal for stargazing.
Before embarking on the extension and renovation works, the owners had briefly considered upsizing to meet the changing needs of their growing family.
But they loved the location and privacy of their existing home so much, they instead chose to go for a radical overhaul that cost almost €1,000,000. While some load-bearing walls remained, the house was stripped back, rewired and re-plumbed and all the latest gadgets of the boom era installed.
Each room is individually wired for surround sound, as are some outside terraces. The house has an internal vacuum system, pressurised water system, Bord Na Móna Puraflo waste water system, broadband, TV and a monitored alarm system with CCTV.
Such was the extent of the work that the family moved into a rented property for a year until construction was complete.
“There was very little left of the original house,” recalls architect Byrne (pictured inset). “Downstairs, the bedroom wing was completely remodelled and a new master bedroom built with access to a private, east-facing deck that catches the morning sun.
“The clients wanted a home that would be contemporary and smart, but with a restful atmosphere. They like the outdoors, so there had to be a seamless transition between the interior and exterior.
“Outside we used quite a lot of cedar timber panelling to ensure the property would sit well into its sylvan setting.”
For a property with so much glazing, it is warm and cosy, with a respectable B3 energy rating, while deep eaves overhanging the upstairs windows ensure it doesn’t overheat in summer.
A series of chain downpipes hang down the exterior walls and run into mounds of rock below, serving as an attractive alternative to unsightly drainpipes.
The extension brought the living space of the house to 3,950 square feet – almost four times the size of a standard semi
There’s a touch of Southfork about the frontage, although it is a far more modern take on ranch-style construction than the Ewing mansion in Dallas – and Long Acre definitely wins out in terms of views.
The entrance hall is like something out of Grand Designs. With a double-height partial glass ceiling, a tiled floor with steps leading up to a polished oak floor, floor lights and glass balustrade, it’s big, bright and sets the tone for the rest of the house.
On the ground floor, the bedrooms were redesigned to incorporate study areas for teenagers, and the kitchen and dining rooms were switched around and extended to give the kitchen more light.
To the back of the house, the bespoke kitchen with island, recessed lights and integrated appliances, and the dining room next to it both have doors opening on to the garden. A separate utility room also leads out to the garden.
The main bedroom wing is to the left off the hall; the master bedroom features a walk-in wardrobe, high vaulted ceilings, electric blinds, intercom, alarm panel and double doors opening on to its own private deck with views over Bray Head. Its ensuite bathroom has his-and-hers sinks, a corner jacuzzi bath and separate walk-in shower.
There are two more double bedrooms here, one ensuite.
To the right off the hall, one room currently used as a gym could also be used as a bedroom or study. Next to it is a spacious, split-level bedroom with a high ceiling, ensuite shower room and double doors to the garden.
At the back of this part of the house is second living room, this one a more traditional-style lounge with hardwood floor, a stove with brick surround and double doors to the garden.
Launched last Friday, the selling agent has already had interest from families who like the allure of country living while being close to the city.
Enniskerry is a picturesque village that offers easy access to the Wicklow heartland, yet it’s an easy commute to Dublin 16km away.
It’s on the 44 bus route to DCU and the 185 feeder bus to Bray Dart station and a five-minute drive to the Luas in Carrickmines. In the other direction, it’s a half-hour drive to Glendalough and 45 minutes to Blessington Lakes.
For hikers and hillwalkers, Co Wicklow is home to the largest area of unbroken high ground in Ireland, approximately 50km by 40km.
Closer to hand, Powerscourt House and Gardens is a short walk from Long Acre.
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