A re-vamped Rochestown home is a big hit on Instagram

Undaunted by DIY and with a natural flair for design, Grace Graham Dunne's transformation of her Foxwood home is chalking up social media followers,  writes Tommy Barker
A re-vamped Rochestown home is a big hit on Instagram

The hugely personalised No 52, Foxwood, Rochestown, Co Cork, is home to MyhomeMythrone interior design fan Grace Graham Dunne. It's on the market now for €380,000.  

Rochestown, Cork

€380,000

Size

146 sqm (1,560 sq ft)

Bedrooms

3

Bathrooms

4

BER

B3

YOU know the expression “when the cat’s away, the mice will play?”

Well, the woman owner of this hugely personalised house, Grace Graham Dunne, took the sentiment to new heights, quite literally….up and down the stairs.

She loves her family home, loves doing design projects on it, and documents much on it now on her very popular Instagram account MyhomeMythrone: it has over 5,000 followers, who get to admire her handiwork here at home at 52 Foxwood, in Cork's elevated Rochestown.

The work she can get up to even caught out her husband, after she first cut her DIY and decorating teeth with a make-over of the family home’s front room.

“Having gained huge confidence from that room’s revamp, I decided to take on our hall and stairs. I loved the idea of a wooden staircase, but my husband wasn’t convinced….. so I decided to take on the project when he went on a three-day work trip to Spain,” Grace reveals.

“I pulled up the carpet and pulled the millions of nails and staples out of the wood on the Sunday and was down to a tool hire company on Monday morning to get a sander. I literally didn’t stop, only to feed children and sleep. By Wednesday the day of his return, the stairs was completed,” she recalls of the savvy transformation, involving white paint, a dark Fleetwood navy/black called ‘Parisian Ink’ on the wall, to complement a runner later added to keep noise down.

It was, literally a ‘steps on the way” to Grace’s hands-on interiors infatuation.

And, quite probably too, a certain reluctance on her partner’s behalf to go away for three days at a time?

The couple had bought the three-bedroomed semi-detached house at the popular Foxwood development up in Cork’s Garryduff, Rochetown  nearly two decades ago.

“When we bought it, in 2002, it had been owned by a single guy so it really was a blank canvas for us to put our own mark on it,” says Grace, who’s now selling what must be, by anyone’s definition, the exact opposite of a blank canvas: in fact, it’s all quite coloured in.

Apart from aptly chosen colours, wall and ceiling panelling and coving that really does give the effect of being in a compact period home, No 52 Foxwood has also, along the way, had a rear, full width extension as a kitchen/diner and real family home hub added in 2009.

Plus,  the attic has been upgraded, and is now home to a multi-purpose room, of bedroom standard, with en suite bathroom.

It’s all been made cosy and toasty, which will be hugely to the benefit of its next owners, as No 52 launces to the property market as hopes rise of a lifting soon of Covid-19 restrictions which have meant property viewings have been virtual and via video for several months now.

Guided at €380,000 for a three-bedroomed home that’s now 1,560 sq ft, No 52 Foxwood is one that’s really going to need actual viewings to fully appreciate or, perhaps, to emulate?

In fact, its impressed selling agent Jackie Cohalan of Cohalan Downing might need some extra telepathic skills to winnow out the genuine possible bidders and buyers from the merely curious -  of which there are 5,200 alone on the MyhomeMythrone Instagram site, some of whom may be tempted to run up in the flesh, notebook and camera-phone in hand, and eyes out on stalks.

Even apart from ‘the look,’ the work done is impressive, adds CDA's Ms Cohalan, as it gets a B3 BER, so the beauty isn’t just skin-deep, it goes deep into the walls.

Putting on her practical (hard) hat, vendor Grace says their priority over the last few years “was to upgrade the insulation within our home to cut down on energy cost. We took advantage of the grants being given a few years ago to insulate the cavity walls and attic floor. Most recently we upgraded all the existing windows to triple glazing, which has made a huge difference to the cosiness of the house but also it had made a big difference in terms of noise cancelation,” she says adding that last summer they also got the attic roof insulated with spray foam to make it a much warmer space.

Getting No 52 to this level was, says Grace, a wiling labour of love for a women who’s into setting the scene and mood in home re-creations.

“I have always really passionate about interiors, I was the type of child who constantly moved around the future in her bed room, so it would seem different,” she reveals. She says that while working in marketing in Dublin aged in her 20’s, at night she studied for a Diploma in Interior Design.

“I never knew what I would do with the qualification but doing the course satisfied my creative itch.” Later, after baby no 2 arrived and when Grace was self-employed, working part time as a marketing consultant, she started her interiors Instagram account MyhomeMythrone, “to keep up with social trends focusing on topics which I had an interest in like interiors and art.

"It was really through this page that I started to document interior projects which I was taking on in our own home.” 

Notably, though, it wasn’t just an eye for a pretty or effective look, it was a passion  also backed up by practical (of necessity) ability.

“I love different interior trends and I am always desperate to incorporate some into our home but I can never justify the cost of getting a tradesperson in every time I want to shake things up in the house. So, I started to take on revamping of furniture and our home myself."

Her first big project was styling the front reception room, which she wanted to be a calm space, to retreat to away from the open-plan living at the back of the house.

She loved the idea of a darker room "but not too dark" and fell for the paint colour ‘Vintage Silver’ from Colourtrend, which she says can look so different, depending on the light playing upon it.

So, 'Vintage Silver'  went on the walls, the ceiling, fire surround, skirting boards and radiator, looking different on each surface. She also also decided to panel this room “to give it a bit of depth and opulence. I had seen others on Instagram do this panelling themselves so I thought I would give it a go, having never used a saw before never mind a mitre-block for the angles, but I felt I had nothing to lose.

The room was “totally transformed, turning it from a regular front room to something which you might find in a period property.”

Grace scoured second-hand furniture shops for things like the over-mantle mirror, sprayed gold, and the ceiling lamp, made from decorative round metal pieces, chains and hooks and sprayed the original light fixing gold. “Voila, a statement centre light fitting was born which complemented the gold theme that I was running through the room adding some glamour.” 

Adding to the aimed-for Wow look was some orange velvet fabric used to recover an existing sofa, from Cork’s The Fabric Outlet, and artwork behind the sofa was the inspiration to pick additional colours through the soft furnishings, an old footstool and lots more.

Next came the Hola! Spanish surprise stairs job, and the utility room’s floor was revamped using a stencil, frog tape and bounced back to life with a black and white chequered pattern.

Naturally enough, the sanctuary of the boudoir or master bedroom wasn’t overlooked on the to-do list.

A bright room which gets sun all day, it got a bit of old world charm added by a wallpaper (sourced from Wairfair.co.uk) looking a bit like a pattern from designer Philip Morris, picking up on hues of green.

It was Grace’s first time trying wallpapering and “I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off especially matching the patterns, but I did it and loved the result. I used ‘Green Smoke’ from Farrow and Ball on the walls, woodwork and radiator painting both doors in this room too. I also added coving and some beading detail to the ceiling, which was another first for me,” she details, and changed the look of the house’s original built-in wardrobes, replacing mirrors in the two centre doors with rattan (bought online, sprayed gold and stapled to the doors.)

Getting the picture yet of an, eh, obsession? 

She also discovered some ‘soft skills’ to go with her burgeoning carpentry, wallpapering and painting talents, after she did a one-day upholstery course with Annette Leeman from Glenbower House, at the Fabric Outlet in Douglas.

Outcome? A headboard made for a King-size bed, cut to a curved top following a pattern on the wallpaper after borrowing a neighbour’s jig-saw, and tacked with foam and wadding, before being covered with a rust-coloured fabric with gold (yes, more gold) herring bone detail, with wall lights attached to the back of the headboard.

No 52’s layout is now off-standard, thanks to the insulation upgrades, upgraded radiators, converted attic, with the first floor’s two bedrooms plus study, and the extended ground floor, giving plenty of space, and variety and levels.

Tapping into the ‘Home of the Year’ vibe, Grace says “if you were to ask where is my ‘Red Spot’ it would definitely be our open-plan kitchen and living room, it’s my favourite space in the house,” she says of the 24’ deep and 20’ wide space, gable ended with two sets of double doors; it had new units added just last year, up to ceiling height for extra storage and with replaced unit doors.

“The walled windows at the end of the extension bring sun into this space all day and it is glorious. From now in March, to October you can have the doors open onto the garden and can take advantage of outdoor dining.

"The kitchen island is a real social space:  anyone who comes to our home automatically pulls up a stool which I love, as it means you can be in the middle of every conversation while cooking or cleaning up,” says the woman who was short-listed as an influencer by Irish interiors magazine House and Home.

Now moving home herself, she says she’ll miss this Garryduff Rochestown home, built by O’Brien & O’Flynn about 25 years ago, and since joined by a new national school serving the expanded catchment’s Foxwood and Mount Oval area.

The Price Register shows 16 resales here since 2010, with latter two, Nos 50 and 55 making €349,000 and €375,000 respectively in 2020. the mid-sized estate include three and four bed homes, semis and bungalows and some larger more individual ones also – but, clearly, few as personalised as No 52.

“Foxwood is a fantastic park; our kids have been really lucky to have had the freedom and safety to play outside which this neighbourhood offers. Also the fact that they can walk to school or explore all that the adjacent Garryduff woods has to offer is a real bonus," Grace enthuses.

Foxwood is one of those old-fashioned neighbourhoods where you can knock on a neighbour’s door for some milk and no one will bat an eyelid."

Or, in Grace Graham Dunn’s MyhomeMythrone, case, it’s a place where you can knock on a neighbour’s door, and ask for a loan of an electric jig-saw, just for a bit of weekend DIY downtime.

VERDICT : Her home, her throne, indeed.

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