Bungalow twist – the €750,000 Dun Laoghaire house that’s been flipped back to front

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The Lodge, Kill Avenue, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin Asking price: €750,000 Agent: DNG Dun Laoghaire (01) 230 1616

It’s an awkward kind of shape, the bungalow. Building up is complicated. Extending shortens the garden. And given that many rural versions were built in the 1970s on a tight budget, they’re typically small and often dated-looking.

It’s interesting then that this type of dwelling — a staple of Irish architecture — is the subject of a new RTE makeover show, My Bungalow Bliss, fronted by well known architect Hugh Wallace.

The four-week programme, which airs on Wednesdays, follows four innovative architects as they transform traditional bungalows into modern homes.

In fact, a perfect example of this already exists in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin.
The Lodge on Kill Avenue had already been converted when Dublin couple Joanne Maher, 40, and her husband Ciaran Ryan, 42, bought it six and a half years ago and was in turn-key condition.

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A view of the reorientated design

“Older people often stop me outside and say, ‘I remember that house and it wasn’t always looking like that’,” laughs Joanne.

A three-bedroom detached dormer bungalow, it has two double bedrooms, a sitting room, bathroom and a kitchen/dining room downstairs and an en suite loft bedroom upstairs.

Built in 1940, on the edge of Ashgrove estate, it’s believed it was once owned by the church authorities.

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The open-plan kitchen and dining room

The property, later bought by a builder, was essentially flipped so that the front became the back and vice versa. This is part of its charm.

There are wide wooden electric gates which, when closed, provide complete privacy. The main garden has a patio/barbecue area and a white gravelled driveway to the front. A box of Red Chief ferns provides an elegant touch.

The open plan kitchen/dining area, which has sliding glass floor-to-ceiling doors, opens to the front. It’s partly what drew Joanne and Ciaran to the property in the first place.

“We loved the flow of the house and the fact that once you close the main gate at the front it’s so peaceful,” explains Joanne.

“There are no houses overlooking us so it’s very private.”

The couple, who have three children — Oscar (9), Lily (7) and Evie (18 months) —had returned to Ireland after a decade of living in Melbourne, Australia.

They wanted a home that would suit a growing family, but would also incorporate the outside.

“I’m a big believer that the outside should be like another room in the house,” says Joanne. “It’s such a big thing in Australia and we got very used to living like that.

“We wanted a home with big windows, high ceilings and lots of light. We absolutely fell in love with the house immediately.”

There is certainly plenty of light in The Lodge. The sun hits the back garden in the afternoon and floods the front of the property in the evening.

Although there was little to be done to the interior, they did employ Joanne’s brother Patrick Maher, of Patrick Maher Designs, to make much of the storage space and the furniture inside.

For example there’s a beautiful long rectangular wooden table with a white finish, which seats 12, and a wooden side cupboard with an unfinished-look in the kitchen.

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Another view of the kitchen

“Joanne was working with a tight budget so I tried to accommodate her by using inexpensive dry wood,” explains Patrick.

“She wanted a rustic but modern look for the kitchen table. This is continued in the side cupboard. I left the doors untreated and wrapped some nice white timber around it.”

Upstairs, the cupboards are made from beach plywood and fitted to the alcove.

There’s also a desk where Joanne’s husband Ciaran, who works for a data brokering company, worked during lockdown.

“He doesn’t mind working from home,” says Joanne. “It’s so quiet up there and he can look out the big window and keep an eye on the kid playing in the garden. But the whole area is very safe and there’s a great sense of community.”

The couple love to entertain. Both enjoy cooking and developed a love of fine wine whilst living in Australia.

“It’s just lovely in the summer time when we’re cooking for guests and the children are running in and out,” adds Joanne.

“We’ve hosted many a dinner party and children’s parties too. We even had an ice cream truck in the driveway on one occasion.”

With a growing family, the couple now want space for their in-laws to be able to stay over and are in need of a bigger house. But they are selling reluctantly.

“The decision to sell has been an emotional one for us,” says Joanne. “It has been a lovely happy home full of good energy. It’s time to move but we will take away the very best of memories.”

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