In family home terms, Arden House must surely qualify as an over-achiever... it’s gone above and beyond the call of most domestic needs, and has risen far beyond its once-humble 1970s bungalow origins and roots.
A family home to a hard-working couple, who returned to Ireland around the early 2000s after spells working in the UK and the US, it was taken firmly in hand and worked on, and on and on, to the final and impressive finished picture, seen here in all its early summer glories.
Interestingly, the couple who reared an active family, on what had been a 1.6 acre site with on-high views over Cork harbour, did the bulk of the work at the start of their grand project, so that all is now very well bedded down, especially the gardens: it’s quite the salutary lesson to see how much visual and horticultural impact can be made by due diligence and dedication to planting.
And, of course, it helps if you have a flair for design, and a hard-working ethos, that’s as far as possible from ‘work- shy.’ Now, the fruits of their labour are evident at Arden House, inside and even more so outside, and keeping it to the same high standard isn’t going to overly tax its next occupants: mostly likely, in any case, they’ll have energy in abundance too.
The 2,700 sq ft home, so utterly transformed from its ’70s construction, is fresh to market, now on a marginally reduced one acre, as a fortunate son got a site to build on, with his recent-build fully completed, and already screened off completely.
Set behind its electric access gate and up a lush green drive by the first of its two feature fish ponds, Arden House also has an immaculate, fenced tennis court, spotless workshop/garage, adjoining games room/gym, and outdoor party and entertaining area, and gardens galore: it’s all listed at €735,000 by estate agent Gillian McDonnell of Sherry FitzGerald in Cork city, who simply says “it’s something special.”
Ms McDonnell is launching it on the back of several very strong, up-market/luxury family home sales, up to an over the €700k mark in the likes of Glanmire’s Hermitage, and in Glounthaune’s Cois Cuain as examples, and with underbidders still from those sales and others still on the home hunt just east of the city.
Part-faced in facades of rugged limestone, and with a cut limestone door surround at its entrance corner, Arden House is set on an elevated and landscaped private plot at Caherlag, on that shouldering hill ridge running out from Glanmire towards Glounthaune.
It’s almost next door to Erin’s Own GAA club: that club formed in 1963, and moved to this Caherlag setting in 1978, about the time the first Arden House iteration was built.
All’s rather different now, though. The original build was more than doubled in size early on, with a second, joined two storey structure/extension added to the south, and linked by a glass-roofed hall.
This new wing brought the main double aspect living area with garden access via a window bay, an en suite bedroom, guest WC and, most dramatically, a top floor master bedroom suite that’s almost a one-bed apartment in its own right. All it needs is a few kitchen appliances; it already has a kettle and coffee maker), with a scene-setting gable-end, enclosed glazed just past glazed double doors balcony for birds’ eye or ship’s bridge-like views down over Cork harbour, Fota and the sweep of east Cork off to the east, while still being only five miles from Cork city and three miles from the tunnel.
This hideaway suite includes a lounge/TV area, walk-in wardrobes/dressing room, and a bathroom with jetted bath in a timber surround, twin sinks, a large shower with glass cubicle walls, painted behind the glass in the wall corner for decorative effect, LED lighting, and French oak flooring.
Elsewhere, the other three bedrooms are all doubles and all en suite with showers, several of them have been updated and retiled since first installed when the family was young.
The main hall/linking spine is bright and airy, with a polished slate floor, and the extra deep window sills are in polished hardwood, while internal doors are hotel-style in walnut, whilst the original link to the back kitchen/dining /family room has quite recently had some internal walls replaced in glass, for an extra see-through bright delivery of family-friendly spaces.
This rear, very large triple aspect room has a dual aspect wood-burning stove in a stone surround, kitchen island units in timber, with gloss red cabinets and stainless steel panels, and there’s a large, feature stainless steel sink and a half with drainer, almost industrial in look, scale and purpose, bought in International Trading in Cork. Also, under a part-vaulted ceiling with high up apex window there’s a split level island topped with black granite, a corner set gas hob, and a selection of Fisher and Paykel appliances, including easy access half and half dishwashers.
This key, core family area opens to a back patio with artificial grass sit-out space, next to a tall, blue ceramic bird bath, where there’s a suspicion the family cat (now minus its tail after an accident,) is over-indulged, as there’s feathered prey on the bird table, as wall as prey of a scalier sort, in the fish ponds, alive with koi (and frogs,) and kept generally protected from herons by surface netting, bu the wily cat still finds the odd catch to its credit.
The family’s five, now adult children may have been similarly indulged? Seemingly a world away, but in reality just 25 metres from the back of the house is a stand-alone garden room/games room, done externally in a sort of rough, adobe looking painted render, complete with pool table, other games and WC, and next to it is a garage/workshop, also pristine.
Externally and facing the back of the house is a part-walled sheltering courtyard with paved floor, rendered walls and services that include water and power, as well as a gas-fired BBQ, plus big serving set-up with deep Belfast ceramic sink and drainer. Throw up a few umbrellas and it’s pretty much all-weather, and set to host chow-downs and hoe-downs into the night (a marquee has made it over too, once or twice.)
There seems to be a seating area for pretty much any time of the day, or night, or wind or weather, with at least four set-ups for al fresco dining, or simply reading a book or the papers, and if the weather’s truly bad, well the all-weather first floor balcony off the master bedroom is a place to take refuge too. Yet, it clearly doesn’t seem like Arden House’s owners have ever sat on their hands.
One’s a self-employed engineer, with a son now joined the business, the other’s a health services manager, and when not at official ‘work,’ they’re most likely building something, adapting something, upgrading it, upholstering it (there’s a home office/sewing room off the kitchen) or planting and replanting, and say much of their planting has been down to trial and error, seeing what’s happiest where, and even having to cut back some stuff as it just grew so fast and abundantly.
The couple are familiar customers of the likes of plantsperson Alan Kenneally at Hillside Nurseries, at Kilcoolishal Glounthaune, and of the hideaway Green Piece Nursery by the Halfway Roundabout at Ballinhassig across the city.
Apart from hard landscaping, paths, the tarmac tennis court etc, the rest of the acre’s extremely well planted up with native Irish trees such as Alder, Ash, Beech (hedging) Birch, Rowan, and Willow, along with exotics like acer palms, bamboos, an olive tree, Eucalyptus, and masses of shrubs such as Camellias, Clematis (especially by the garden ‘picnic room’), Hydrangea, Magnolias, Viburnum and Wisteria, plus plants such as Agapanthus, Digitalis and Osteopermum.
Just now starting viewings with Sherry FitzGerald, and in walk-in order throughout, the entirely deceptive and regularly re-imagined Arden House is ‘is ready and waiting for its new owners to put their stamp on this wonderful home, and reap the benefits of this lovely, popular and accessible setting, with panoramic harbour views’.