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Dylan Vaughan

How a Kilkenny family turned an 1820s grain store into their dream home

As part of our Dream Home series with Allianz Insurance, we look at a renovated commercial property.

HOME IS WHERE the heart is.

It’s where you go to sleep, where some of us work five days a week and where you relax and unwind and take refuge from the busy world. It’s only right that we care deeply for it and take pride in our home.

Allianz Insurance offers home owners, renters and landlords peace of mind with their flexible home insurance products. The space you love and spend your time in can be protected with a policy that caters for your specific needs.

We’ve teamed up with Allianz to showcase some of Ireland’s loveliest homes to demonstrate the care and love homeowners put into them. The first home in this series is the epitome of a comprehensive renovation – turning an 1820s-built commercial store in a town square into a family home.

Pádraig & Gráinne

Pádraig and Gráinne were house hunting when Gráinne’s parents mentioned that a commercial property that they shared a back wall with was up for sale. The couple were initially apprehensive about purchasing a property that had once operated as a grain store, a butchers and a medical hall at various points in its history. 

OLD SHOP_page-0003 Inside the old shop. Ignatius O’Neill Ignatius O’Neill

“We were like absolutely no way. It was madness. I wasn’t going to be living in a pharmacy for my house!” said Pádraig.

OLD SHOP_page-0008 A lot of work was needed to renovate the house. Ignatius O’Neill Ignatius O’Neill

However, they were soon won over by the old and romantic charm of the property. Soon after, they bought it at auction and started the long process of renovating the commercial space into a family home suitable for their three growing boys.

OLD SHOP_page-0014 Some old items were left behind. Ignatius O’Neill Ignatius O’Neill

From buying the property to moving in was a four year process, according to Pádraig. They removed an estimated 230 tonnes of rubble from the house, which still leaked grain from its ceiling, as well as other quirky remnants from its past uses, such as butcher coats still hanging up and invoices dated from 1947. 

Pádraig and Gráinne relied solely on local tradesmen, not hiring anyone from more than five kilometres away. This helped move the project along, as it was a real labour of love and a point of pride for many locals to be working on it.  

01-Haughney-House-Kilkenny The front of Pádraig & Gráinne's house. Dylan Vaughan Dylan Vaughan

The renovation itself was a total make-over, with everything from the back wall in the garden to the out-of-date and damaged clay pipes being removed. It took approximately two years to get the house in decent shape.

“The entire back of the building was taken away,” said Pádraig. 

“We just started from there and built back up,” he added.

Doing such an overhaul meant that Pádraig and Gráinne had pretty much a clean slate to implement their vision of their dream home, which has since been featured on RTÉ’s Home of the Year. A big part of this was future-proofing the house, turning the house into a well-insulated and airtight home. 

03-Haughney-House-Kilkenny Inside the property. Dylan Vaughan Dylan Vaughan

“We have an A-rated house inside what was an old shop. There was a lot of mucking about and a lot of stuff to be moved out, because we kind of realised, okay, look, we’re only gonna get one chance at this so we tried to future-proof it. We said, look, if we have to make cuts, we can. We can go for a cheaper kitchen, we can go for cheaper bathrooms and worry about that down the line. We get one chance [at the foundations], and that’d be the one advice I’d always give people. Spend the money on getting it insulated and airtight, and that’s because you won’t do that again,” said Pádraig.

Now that Pádraig and his family are living in the house, they can look back and reflect on the renovation process and are full of advice for those in a similar situation. The key to a successful renovation is to celebrate the little wins along the way, says Padraig. 

Any wins along the way we made sure to mark and celebrate, be it getting your planning permission, getting the windows in, whatever it was. I’d always say that to people that just celebrate the little victories because there’ll be loads of ups and downs, and they’ll help you to get through it,” he said.

Pádraig and Gráinne and their three boys are now living in their home, which comes with a gorgeous garden that has a covered outdoor kitchen and hot tub, perfect for the unpredictable weather here! The house was beautifully decorated with plenty of lovely unique touches that really make it a home.

04-Haughney-House-Kilkenny The house gets great light from windows at the back of the house. Dylan Vaughan Dylan Vaughan

We have something that we couldn’t have bought. Our garden opens up onto granny and granddad’s. So our three boys will go up and down to granny and granddad. It’s super safe and it’s a lovely relationship for them as they’re seeing their grandparents every day. Being in the middle of the town and the community is lovely,” said Pádraig. 

The home is the perfect place for Pádraig and his family to grow up in. It’s also an amazing place for them to enjoy the present. 

“This summer is one of the first summers that we haven’t gone away and I really didn’t want to,” said Pádraig. “I just love being at home and it’s a nice feeling to have.”

33-Haughney-House-Kilkenny Pádraig and Gráinne Dylan Vaughan Dylan Vaughan

“It’s our home. It’s our space, we created it. There’s not a part of the house that I don’t know what was there or what’s there now. And I just love that, I just know every little bit of the building. And as I say, just being happy at home is brilliant,” he adds. 

For more information and a closer look at Pádraig and Gráinne’s amazing home, discover their Instagram

Allianz p.l.c is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Standard acceptance criteria, terms & conditions apply. Visit here for a home insurance quote today.

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