Meet the couple building dream homes for fun

Stephen and Jean Lonergan spent years getting their Sutton house just right. Now they’re ready to do it all over again

Asking price: €2.3m

Agent: Gallagher Quigley (01) 8183000​

As hobbies go, developing homes is not just an expensive pastime, but it can be stressful and time-consuming too.

Yet serial builder-renovators Stephen and Jean Lonergan seem made for it.

Having renovated a period property in Clontarf, the couple then built their current home from scratch a few kilometres north in Sutton. Now, they intend to move on to an even more ambitious development nearby.

Their ‘for now’ home is as authentic an example of post-Celtic Tiger contemporary as you might want to imagine — a 4,000 sq ft, high-spec modern detached build with four bedrooms and sea views from several rooms.

The three-storey home is near the water at Sutton Creek.

The contemporary exterior of Bayview at dusk

“We had been living in Clontarf for 13 years,” says Stephen. “Our kids grew up there. Previously to that, we lived in Johnstown in Co Kildare as we both work from home, so there was no need to commute.

“But as the kids came along, we wanted to be a bit closer to where things were happening.

“I bought the site when it came up as I knew it would be a good opportunity to build our own place.

“In lockdown, I spent pretty much the first year or so just finding the right builders and suppliers.”

The Lonergans’ house is one of a set of two that were meant to be identical, but the house next door was built about six months ahead of their schedule, so the couple made subtle alterations to their own version of the plans.

Jean and Stephen Lonergan made tweaks to the plans. Photo: Barbara McCarthy

They were originally drawn up by Dublin 3 architect Tyler Owens and included drawings for a basement, which the Lonergans decided against on the grounds of the costs involved.

Each site was originally sold with plans included.

“My neighbour is a lovely guy, so he gave me a few hints and tips along the way, saying, ‘look, if I was doing this again, I might change this room or that room’,” says Stephen.

The kitchen by Michael Farrell gets lots of light from a 9ft sq Korniche roof lantern

“So we took a lot of it on board, like moving the bathroom next to the kitchen, which made more sense as it made it more accessible.

“Also, there were these big lantern lights, these Korniches, as they are called in the kitchen/dining area, and he said he definitely would have went with them bigger given the choice again, so we did that. We went with a 9ft sq lantern, which gives loads of light.”

Jean adds: “While Stephen and I had similar ideas on the build and layout of the house, we both had individual wish lists.

“Our kitchen is at the core of our family living and I wanted a design that was both stylish and aesthetically appealing, but functional and comfortable.

The living room

“Our kitchen area is a large space that opens on to our patio and garden and is ideal for kids and family entertainment.

“As a mom of three kids, I wanted to design a large boot room with a shower that provided a space for storage and functionality for our busy home.”

The kitchen/dining area in question is the ‘marquee’ space of the house, coming in at 630 sq ft, the area of a decent size two-bed apartment.

Today’s News in 90 seconds – 17th May 2024

The couple availed of a dark palette here, with black painted cabinetry and brass furnishings.

Integrated appliances are hidden from view, while large sliding glazed doors open into a garden uncharacteristically large for a new build in this part of the city.

“We saw a brochure for a house in Portmarnock and they used Michael Farrell kitchens,” says Stephen.

“It was just so different, as it was dark, black and looked very modern and we thought this is just what the house needs.

“And because we had so much light in the kitchen, we were able to make it work.

The bathroom

“So we went with those guys and they introduced us to a few new modern kitchen designs, like the foldaway kitchen doors for the breakfast area. Instead of having an extractor fan above the oven, we have a built-in one that basically sucks it out through a back wall.

“It’s quieter and gives a lot more space for all the cupboards and presses and storage. We always find that these days, no matter how many drawers we have, we never seem to have enough storage space.”

Elsewhere, a large hallway with a hardwood timber floor leads to two large living rooms, one of which is currently used as a kids’ playroom/den for James (17), Xavier (13) and Milla (10).

The kitchen/dining area spans 630 sq ft

On the first floor, there are four bedrooms arranged around a central landing, as well as two bathrooms, and on the top floor, there’s a master bedroom, which has a private roof terrace with sea views and a walk-in wardrobe, as well as a separate bathroom.

Bayview comes with an A1 BER thanks to triple-glazing, a heat exchange system and air circulation.

A double bedroom leads out to a rooftop terrace

Stephen, who is a futures trader and a meticulous researcher, put a lot of time into refining the smallest details, right down to the internet provider.

“I found in our last house the wifi was a bit patchy in parts, so we have boosters for every room and some hard wired ports as well.

“The best part of the day is getting kids off to school and taking the two dogs out for a walk and finding new tracks, or going down to Burrow beach, or just getting lost.

A reception at the front

“We had intended to live here forever, but we found we really enjoyed the process of building. Jean found another place nearby that she would love to sink her teeth into.”

Jean adds: “While it hasn’t been easy, I have enjoyed the process of building it. In particular, I love the consistent warm climate throughout the house which comes from a combination of the insulation and the underfloor heating.

“You really notice it during the colder months, waking up to nice warm floors.”

Gallagher Quigley is asking €2.3m for Bayview.