A lesson in maximising space in a terraced Stoneybatter two-bed home

With the help of family, a Dublin couple added to the work done to No16 by previous owners in order to optimise every inch

Asking price: €450,000

Agent: DNG (01) 8300989

Controversy erupted recently over suggested new planning rules designed to fit more new homes into development sites by reducing the minimum footprint of each.

This would involve cutting the required size of gardens and parking spaces in the process.

The level of space we have become accustomed to in a modern family home would certainly be considered a luxury by the original occupants of average period houses in Dublin.

Take the terrace homes at Aberdeen Street in Stoneybatter, which were built for railway workers in 1885.

They have no front gardens at all and small courtyard spaces at the back. Yet these are highly sought after by singles and couples seeking to move close to trendy Stoneybatter.

The exterior of No16 Aberdeen Street

While it stands at 667 sq ft today, about a full one-third smaller than a modern semi-detached home, in 1901, No16 was home to seven people: Henry J. Philips, a 50-year-old member of Dublin’s railway police who lived here with his wife Isabella (45) and their five children Edith (16), Henry J Junior (14) , Isaac (8), Lenagh (4), and their youngest, Robert (2).

These days, it’s considered perfect for a couple. The current owners are Kevin Loughnane and his wife Cliona, who bought the two-bed in 2018.

“The first time we turned on to the road when we came to view the house, we couldn’t believe what we saw,” says Kevin.

“It’s a wide street of terraced houses. It was a really sunny day and honestly, I was sold before we even opened the front door.”

Owner Kevin Loughnane got family involved to help shape No16 Aberdeen Street. Photo: Bryan Meade

Kevin, from Blanchardstown, works in compliance, and Cliona is a civil servant from Phibsborough. Married for 10 years, they’d been living off Camden Street before moving across the Liffey to their terrace.

They noticed the difference immediately. “It’s located in an enclave, which has very little traffic. It’s weirdly quiet considering how central it is. They were very well built,” says Kevin.

The quest for space had been very much on the minds of the previous owners, who did the heavy-lifting by having it gutted and renovated, adding flooring and knocking the wall between the sitting room to the front and the kitchen at the back to create one great big open-plan kitchen/dining/living area.

The kitchen with island unit

A large chimney piece with a reclaimed tile inset had been added in the sitting room and the walls had been painted shades of navy.

“We made a number of design changes to reflect our own taste,” says Kevin. “We wanted to make the sitting room brighter and airier, so we painted the walls white and left one feature wall.”

They added a mirror over the fireplace, which gives the impression of even more space.

Kevin’s uncle, Fergus Flanagan, is a furniture designer and he made an L-shaped leather couch, which fits snugly under the front window.

“We considered having a u-shaped couch, but he advised against it as it would shorten the space. Instead, he came up with a matching leather foot stool which can be moved around,” says Kevin.

The kitchen, which has modern units, has a sloping celling with a number of Velux windows that let the light in and there are French doors at the back which open to a small patio.

One of the bedrooms

There’s a plumbed storage area under the stairs which fits a washing machine and a dryer.

The shower room on the ground floor features black London tiles and a red cupboard, and this was left intact.

They did, however, change the carpet on the stairs and in the two bedrooms.

Upstairs, they also painted the walls, this time in shades of light grey. In addition, they added built-in wardrobes in the two double bedrooms.

One of the biggest projects they undertook was renovating the south-facing courtyard at the back.

“It was completely bare when we first got here,” says Kevin. “But we could see its potential. It’s a real suntrap and I could picture myself sitting there, having a cup of coffee.”

Maximising this space was again a family affair as they enrolled the help of Kevin’s father, Brendan, who made wood-lined raised flowerbeds and a bench, and provided them with a wood storer.

Cliona’s mother, Helen, is an avid gardener so she advised on the plants. They erected a trellis along the wall and added grey and white patterned tiles from Ikea underfoot.

The courtyard with wood storer and flowerbeds

“The tiles are set in mesh and are removable, which means we can clean them if necessary. In the summer, when it’s warm, you can open up the double glass doors in the kitchen and it essentially extends the living area,” says Kevin.

The couple moved into No16 just over a year before the pandemic and Kevin said the house proved to be “a godsend”.

They enjoyed the fact that the area, despite being so central, was not only peaceful, but close to the Phoenix Park.

“We’re just two minutes’ drive away, and it was in our catchment area, so we could take two walks a day there.”

There’s a mixture of people who have lived in the locality all their lives, as well as newbies like the Loughnanes.

The ground floor shower room with black London tiles

“We found everyone was friendly and we got to know people on the street during Covid. We felt like part of a community and that made a big difference to our everyday lives.”

The house’s location next to Stoneybatter’s well known restaurants and trendy bars was also a big plus over the years.

“During Covid, Walsh’s pub was delivering pints, so we were sitting outside on the road drinking in the sunshine,” says Kevin.

The couple are now selling up and considering houses in Wicklow.

“Post-pandemic, we find we’re spending less and less time in the city. We want to be closer to nature and be able to go for long walks on the beach,” says Kevin. “The house has served us well, but it’s now time for a change.”

DNG seeks €450,000 on their behalf.