Dublin mum Sarah Wilson shows off stunning results after complete “gut job” to home in Churchtown



It’s a standard three-bed semi with a garage that has been extended to the side, front and rear. It’s quite contemporary in style with a few Art Deco-inspired elements

Sarah Wilson and her husband Michael started what they describe as a complete “gut job” to their home in Churchtown, Dublin in 2017. Over the years, Sarah has shared her home’s incredible evolution through the Instagram account @style.swoon.

Now, almost five years on, with two young children and a third on the way, Sarah looks back at how far she’s come and gives some honest insight into the many lessons she learned along the way.

Speaking to RSVP Home, Sarah said: “We sale agreed our forever home in September of 2017, and envisaged moving in by the end of 2018. We were very optimistic back then and a little bit naïve about how many things can go wrong on a project of this scale.

“It was a semi-detached house with five bedrooms and one bath upstairs, as well as two front reception rooms, dining room and galley kitchen downstairs. It had huge potential and the location was a dream for us, but it needed a lot of work… a complete gut job.

“When bidding on the house, we were advised we didn’t need planning permission to extend once we didn’t exceed 40sqm. However, that advice turned out to be incorrect, so before doing any significant work we had to apply for planning permission for our rear extension, and this slowed us down immensely.

“We submitted our first planning application mid 2018 and even though many of our neighbours had built similar extensions, the council only granted us permission on the basis of some unusual conditions. One such condition was that we build the extension one metre away from our boundary wall. We appealed the decision and won.

“A second submission for a bay window at the front was also rejected completely – despite three houses on our road having the same. It was bizarre to say the least. Two appeals slowed us down and engaging a planning consultant to prepare the appeals was costly.

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“In the year it took us to get through the planning process, the cost of building increased significantly. One tender went up by 40 per cent so when we eventually broke ground in August 2019 we had a scaled back design. Had all gone to plan we would have been in the house just before the first lockdown.

“Unfortunately, delays early on and Covid restrictions hitting at the end of March 2020 meant we weren’t even close to completion. We eventually moved into a very unfinished house in December 2020. It seemed crazy to move into such a mess with two young children, but we had no choice because we had nowhere else to live.

“In hindsight we were blessed to get in before another long lockdown and the construction stoppage in January”.

See inside Sarah’s home in the photo story below and pick up a copy of RSVP Home, on shelves now, for more real home stories and interior inspiration.





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