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Saturday, June 16, 2012
Anyone watching the new Channel 4 series, The House the 50s Built? Good, isn’t it? Well this house at Shanakiel, Cork, would do as a stand in for historical accuracy.
Rivercrest was created exactly in 1950 by Cork architects, Chillingworth and Levie, for a well-known, local family. The firm’s collection of drawings is now in the Archive Institute and the plans for this house are available through estate agent, Malcolm Tyrrell of Cohalan Downing who is open to offers in the region of the guide of €580,000 for this detached property.
Like a lot of good homes, Rivercrest hasn’t changed much over the decades — if at all. This house is an exemplar for its era — down to the shape, style, steel windows and, in particular, its kitchen/ diner. A little faded now, but in its day, this red formica number must have been the epitome of 1950s chic. If the values bandied about in one Channel 4 episode are anything to go by, it was an expensive kitchen in its day.
And it overlooks the front entrance, which is a dipping drive downwards from the Shanakiel Road turnoff, and there’s more than a hint of Arts and Crafts in the house’s style, from the front door, (more 1930’s than 1950s, with it’s stained glass and curious hand-held hammer knocker), and dramatic, full length stained glass window on the stair return — both very attractive features.
Again, like the breath of fresh air that blew through the decade, this house has an open plan layout at the rear. Facing south over the river, (hence the name) and with a superb site of half an acre, the design cleverly ensures sun in each room at every part of the day. The main living rooms face due south and there’s a widow’s walk of a sunroom/conservatory running the full length of the rear and ending in a square, west-facing patio. Here there’s a simply lovely carp pond. A devoted gardener will love the sheer, lush abandon of the site, but it will have to be tamed, not just for its own good, but for the good of the house too, which is now in shade at the rear, because of overgrowth in the garden.
And the irony is that the garden will be the element that will attract the buyers, but it’s a case of ‘killing the things we love’ for the better. The only consolation is the bones of the site are excellent and the trees are not so wild that hard pruning won’t bring the shape back. It’s all here really in a bosky oasis that’s minutes from town.
The house is a substantial, five-bedroomed, 2,100 sq ft period property set perfectly in its site and with the amount of mature planting, it’s not immediately obvious how much space there is available.
Internally, there’s the main hallway, with stairs leading left and with bedrooms fanned out to the south, for the most part, on the second floor.
A wrap-around balcony that begins in the master bedroom, (corner window here and very bright) also runs east west and over the garage roof where a good designer could make a meal of this superb integral feature.
Downstairs, the layout is simple: on the right is the kitchen/ diner, (with a very 1960s dining suite) leading through to an oak panelled living room or snug, again very Arts and Crafts and fitted with cosy furniture and original fireplace.
This is turn leads through to a very impressive, living and formal dining area, that runs almost the entire back of the house and which connects to the conservatory though steel double doors.
Draped and gowned in old gold and with a magpie’s collection of art and bric-a-brac, this room is rather grand and has fireplaces on both ends, one of which is a Bell, the fireplace of its day.
VERDICT:There is no question but that work will be needed here: this is a high-end, doer upper, but one that needs mothering, it seems rather than doctoring. Rivercrest will respond to some love.
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