From the outside, Laurel Cottage in Rathfarnham looks like a small, quaint house that would suit a couple with a fondness for cosy corners and tight spaces. Step inside, however, and prepare for the unexpected.

“It’s such a surprising house,” says owner Aisling Rock, proudly. “If you were to walk by it, all you see is a small cottage that doesn’t look much. Then you come in and there’s a really huge open space that’s filled with light with a storey-and-a half of height. Guests never expect it and are always impressed.”

The dimensions measure just over 1,100 sq ft, matching and indeed surpassing the total floor space of an average three-bedroom family home.

Aisling and her husband Peter bought Laurel Cottage on Stocking Lane in January 2015. The original building dates back to around 1910. Previous owners renovated and extended it in 2004, and it has since been redecorated by the Rocks.

“When we bought the house, we didn’t have kids. We were living in an apartment at the time and had just got a dog. When we saw the house, we immediately fell in love with it,” says Aisling. “It suited us down to the ground. We love being out with the dog and we’re right on the foothills of the mountains. Then just down the hill is Bushy Park and Marley Park, so there’s great access to outdoor amenities around us.”

One way to describe the cottage would be country-living in the city. It’s up Stocking Lane in Rathfarnham which feels like it’s a million miles from the bustle, yet it’s only a two-minute walk to the 15B bus stop or a few minutes by car to the M50. Aisling says she likes to think of it as being a haven from the madness, with an ability to connect back into the world very easily.

The cottage had a complete redecoration in 2015. As well as a new kitchen and bathroom, it was also painted and carpeted from top to bottom by the Rocks when they moved in.

“The biggest job was definitely the kitchen,” recalls Aisling. “We were in Powerscourt at Christmas when we were waiting for the sale to go through and I wandered into the Neptune showroom and it all progressed from there. My brother bought a similar kitchen a few years back and I always loved it. I prefer the country look to ultra-modern. I think it softened up the house and made it feel so much warmer.”

Another change the couple made to the house was to expose the brick in the master bedroom. “The wall around the fireplace in the bedroom was painted white when we moved in,” says Aisling, “so we got it sandblasted to show off the original stone again.”

The original fire is back in working order and adds real character to the room.

“The master bedroom would have to be my favourite room in the house,” says Aisling. “The sun sets at that side of the house so when we come in in the evening there is bright sun in the room and it’s really warm and cosy.”

The Rocks have managed to make the most of the 1,119 sq ft on offer in the cottage with a large open-plan living space, a master bedroom with en suite, a walk-in wardrobe and a second double bedroom and bathroom.

The living room has a multi fuel-burning stove that is used regularly. There’s solid timber floor and built-in shelving. The kitchen tucks in under the pitch of the roof in the extension. It is a solid oak creation with granite worktops. New owners will appreciate the smaller things like boiling and filtered water taps, and the integrated larder.

There are plantation shutters in the bedrooms and the attic has been floored and shelved for extra space.

At one side Swedish bi-folding doors open out to an enclosed courtyard, with the utility room off it. Visitors have often asked the owners why they don’t put a roof on this area, but Aisling insists they love it just the way it is.

“When the sun is shining, the courtyard really comes into its own,” she says. “It’s like a room in itself and a total suntrap. It’s such a great place to sit out in and relax.”

At the other end, doors open to a deck and garden. The site is closed off by electronic gates with its own parking.

The Rocks are moving on because they have had two children, Reuben and Rosie, since they bought the house and are now expecting their third. Although it’s a good area for schools, with Edmundstown national school and St Colmcille’s community school within walking distance, the couple has decided that they need something a bit bigger.

“We’ll be desperately sad to say goodbye to it,” says Aisling. “We love it. It’s so private and the area is great. We’ll really miss it.”

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