BIG, galloping acres with monster mansions have, of necessity, given way to sexy, Dermot Bannon-type extensions and an approach that’s tailored to a new, less brash way of being.
Into this world comes the ’small is beautiful’ approach that combines the virtue of ingenuity with the frugality of a new decade.
And the approach to our homes is best exemplified by Channel 4’s George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces. Geordie George deals with summer shacks and the cramming of caravans mostly, but the underlining theme is: ingenious, inexpensive, cheerful living that somehow also conveys a sense of freedom and love of the outdoors. That’s true aspirational TV.
Anyway, by a long way round, we come to No 4 South View, at the start of Cork’s Ballinlough Road just off the Douglas Road, a dotey little cottage that’s a mere five minute trot to town.
Sandwiched into a row of similar houses, it’s immediately recognisable because of its white and grey colours — the palette du jour. Look closer though and you see it’s common or garden PVC now painted a smart, urban grey, and it’s an indication of what lies beyond — a cool, clever but upcycled house that fits right in with the zeitgeist.
This house, which is just on the market with Jeremy Murphy and Associates at €165,000, has a south city location, rear access with garden shed, (more of which later) and is a little terraced house where nothing was thrown out that couldn’t be used again.
Immediately inside the door there’s a short draught-proofing hallway, with a second door that’s only closed at night, and which comes with a cute, hand-printed curtain to screen the view.
And where previously there was a warren of little rooms, now there’s a grand open space with furniture used to indicate usage and light floods from back to front. This house may not seem so big from the front, but it’s plenty deep at the back.
It’s been madeover by its present owner, who retained an existing kitchen and bathroom extension, but went to work on the main structure of the house, knocking partitions in a clean sweep.
Now you have a very cool, very white space that has all the elegance of a gallery, but the comfort of a home. A mix of old and new and all of it found on the cheap, but with an eagle eye.
But there’s been investment too, the structure is remade internally and the staircase has been moved and replaced with a simple wooden flight that climbs up to two bedrooms overhead.
The stairwell allows southern light to filter through the bedrooms into the interior of the house, where it’s usually dark when extended, but not here. There’s light from back to front, with only a partial wall occluding the kitchen from the front door, but the original door frame remains as a memory installation, set with stained glass and in a stripped back wall.
There’s one main fireplace with a big stove thrumming with heat and around it, a junk shop find, Edwardian fire surround is placed, but it’s painted white and finished in mosaic tiles by the owner — it’s really bright and it really works.
A flat-pack room divider encloses the sitting area, (cleverly, there’s a screen near the interior door too) and even here, the main sofa was a knockdown find. Behind the divider, the kitchen table is bounded by an assortment of found and antique chairs and the walls are hung with interesting prints, paintings and bit and pieces.
The kitchen is simple with good fittings and enough galley space with a serving peninsula close to the double doors that lead to the garden. The utility, meanwhile, is in a lobby between the main bathroom and kitchen and outside there’s a block shed.
With the bonus of rear lane access, there’s great scope here for a home office/therapy space and room left over for this terrace home. It really is sweet.
The bedrooms are two simple spaces, with polished floors, and the front room is currently used as an office.
VERDICT: All in, it’s a tidy house, but one that’s bursting with personality and allure.
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