A beautiful renovation in Athgarvan
David and Nessa Conlon’s split level house is in a cul-de-sac, close to The Curragh in County Kildare and was full of interesting quirks, like curved interior walls, a corridor with seven doors leading into bedrooms and bathrooms and most alarmingly – a 600 square meter garden, with a 40 degree slope rising to a height well above the roof of the house.
With a budget of more than €220,000 Architect Dermot Bannon had a huge challenge on his hands both inside and outside the house. This jovial couple appeared on the most recent series of the RTÉ programme ‘Room to Improve,’ last September and here, Mrs Conlon talks to us about the beautiful home she ended up with.
“When we applied up to participate in Room to Improve we never thought that we would be selected and we never thought that we would be selected. It was always a pipe dream that we would ever have a house designed by Dermot Bannon,” explained Nessa Conlon.
“When we got the call to say that we were selected I nearly crashed the car with excitement. We did however have to think twice about it because obviously you are exposing yourself to the nation but the pros well outweighed the cons. The programme went down very well and rather than the show being focused around us it was focused around the house, the garden and the involvement of Diarmuid Gavin as well. We pinched ourselves when we heard Diarmuid Gavin involved was getting involved as well, he had a vision for the garden to do something different and we didn’t need a football pitch for a garden. There is a large green area just down the road from us. The garden works so well for us, it is unique and relatively free from hard work. It needs to be pruned once a year along with a bit of weeding.
“It was very easy to work with Dermot Bannon and he is an expert at his trade. We trusted Dermot and I think he may have felt more pressure because we didn’t really question his decisions but he didn’t push his decisions on us either. We worked together,” added Mrs Conlon.
With this being the Conlon’s third move, it was imperative to them that they ended up with a forever home in Kildare and seeing as these houses don’t often come up for sale, it is a rather unique house to live in.
“There is nothing we would change about the house and it just works for us as a family. We have four bedrooms, the open plan space isn’t too big and it works for us. We have the den area which can be closed off when either the kids or us are using this space. I think it is very important to have a separate space that you can close off (like our den) especially when you have open plan living,” she enthused.
In terms of what attracted David and Nessa to buying this house?
“A couple of things caught our eyes about this house and location was one of them as very few properties like this one come up around the Newbridge/ Athgarvan area. We were after a house where you have your own privacy but you also have neighbours and the layout of this house was also rather different
“We didn’t want to live out in the countryside or to be isolated but we also didn’t want to be on the road night and day with the kids either. There is also a local link bus that they will be able to use when they get that bit older. The house is a split level bungalow and in my opinion it is an attractive house,” added Mrs Conlon.
As to any advice Nessa would give to anyone who is about to embark on a renovation project?
“I definitely think people are naïve when it comes to the cost of renovating. Be prepared as there is a serious likelihood that you will spend more than your original budget. When we took on this project we wanted to do it properly and through hard work and saving meant we were in a position to complete the job.
“It definitely is clients expectations that drive the budget and good quality items (appliances, flooring, kitchen, etc) are very costly. Everyone that worked on the project was fantastic and it was a very enjoyable experience,” concluded Nessa Conlon.