The remarkable home of artist Robert Ballagh wowed us at Christmas courtesy of RTÉ’s Celebrity Home of the Year. The programme showed how the artist had taken three adjoining identikit period terrace homes and broke them into one, a la the Beatle’s famous conjoined terrace from the film Help! With architects Boyd Cody, the painter fashioned a large luxurious modern pop home from the adjoining smaller dwellings which also included a modern outdoor courtyard.

So imagine doing exactly that for your dream home, but at the seaside.

The problem is that very rarely do a an adjoining pair in an exclusive location come on the market together. But that’s just happened at Sandycove, the Dublin seaside suburb dubbed ‘Millionaire’s Row’ in the most recent wealth report. At Mariners Way, twin villa style homes at both numbers 11 and 12 have come on the market at the same time, and through the same estate agent.

It was sheer coincidence that next-door neighbours Paddy Daly and Chantal Doody decided to sell their villa style homes at the same time, but that twist of fate might prove a bonus for both if a buyer of means decides to take two or a fast growing services company decides it needs a new HQ with a bit of pedigree period style.

Dating from the 1840s and located around the corner from the famous Forty Foot bathing spot and the Joyce Museum in the Martello Tower at Sandycove Point, the adjoining Victorian houses of 11 and 12 Sandycove Avenue East are available for sale separately, but are already attracting interest from buyers looking to transform both into one super-sized family home.

Ever since Sandycove was built just south of Kingstown, now Dun Laoghaire, where Dublin’s first railway line opened in 1834, it’s attracted an affluent set. A study by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council notes: “It was the extension of the railway to Dalkey in 1844 and the eventual building of a station at Sandycove that boosted the residential development and popularity of the district.

“Many houses built between 1830 and 1850 were let to summer visitors for high rents. Many of these visitors were middle -class merchants or professionals living in terraced houses in the city centre who resided in the cleaner, fresher air of a coastal town such as Sandycove for the summer months.”

According to the electoral register of 1901, Number 11 Sandycove Avenue East was then occupied by provision merchant Patrick Reddy, his sister Anne and their servant Margaret. Number 12 was uninhabited. Ten years later, the majority of residents on the street were well-to-do professionals with at least one domestic servant per family. Some, such as the Falkners, wine and spirit merchants with offices in Dublin, also had a cook and a coachman.

By then, Number 11 was occupied by railway clerk Henry Duncan, his wife Marian, their two-year-old son Harold, and Henry’s brother Charles, a painter. Again, Number 12 remained empty.

Today, both houses are well and truly inhabited. For the past 60 years Paddy Daly, a retired car restorer, has lived in No 12 where he and his late wife May raised their two daughters. Having gone to college at the age of 75 to learn how to use a computer, the now 87-year-old likes to write, and plans to explore new beginnings in the west of Ireland where he hopes to find the right-sized house to suit his needs.

“I loved living here and being able to go out walking by the sea each day, but it’s time to move on,” he says. “I’m tempted to travel around in my camper van, but it’s more likely I’ll settle in Louisburgh, Co Mayo, where there’s a thriving independent publishing scene.”

Built as structural replicas, both double-fronted houses retain lots of original period features like coving, shuttered windows, solid wood flooring and high ceilings that you rarely see in modern houses. While Paddy’s house needs some modernisation, however, the end-of-terrace ‘Mariners Way’ next door at Number 11 had a total refit seven years ago.

When interior designer Chantal Doody moved in, she insulated the ceilings and floors, commissioned stained glass windows for the front door and increased the living space by a third.

The ground floor entrance hall originally led to twin rooms on either side. Chantal boarded up one door and knocked the wall between the rooms on the left to create one long, bright, dual-aspect drawing room. Original red deal wood floors were French-polished with a special dye to give a light, sandy hue.

“I wanted to create a seaside theme,” she says. “Hence the blue-green wainscot panelling in the hallway.”

On the other side of the hall are two bedrooms. Six steps lead to an L-shaped bedroom and modern family bathroom upstairs. Downstairs, a modern kitchen with quartz countertops has double doors opening out to the garden which currrently accommodates a trampoline, double swing, football net and one very bouncy Old English Sheepdog. When Chantal discovered an original granite fireplace on the far wall of the kitchen, she made a feature of it, with a dark graphite inset contrasting against the thick cream-coloured stone.

By lowering the floors at sub-ground level, she transformed what were originally the servants’ quarters – dark, low-ceilinged rooms – into a bright, modern space which now contains an office/study, ensuite wc, utility room and a TV room which could also be used as a den, music room, or extra bedroom.

The garden also has a private off-street space for a car or a boat. This is marine territory, after all, with the sea on the doorstep and the Royal St George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire a few minutes drive away.

The contrast between these neighbouring houses is like stepping into a real-life TV makeover show, and fires the imagination as to what kind of grand design might be achieved by combining the two. As well as providing over 3,000 square feet of existing space by knocking them together (the properties are not listed) the large side garden attached to No 11 offers scope to extend, subject to planning.

Selling agent Janet Carroll won’t even hazard a guess as to the cost of converting the properties, but states it will require deep pockets.

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