Tommy Barker discovers a generously-sized house in a desirable part of Cork which has been subtly improved by its interior designer owner
The owner of Denmead, or No 38 in Douglas’s Hettyfield Park, is an interior designer, but she insists the house is no show-off piece: “it’s a home, a family home,” she asserts.
In that, she’s absolutely right, but she’s also possibly being a bit modest on the home front.
No 38 has got style, as well as serious functionality, and is hospitable to boot. Visited last Friday evening, a freshly-made apple tart was laid on, with apples from trees in the private and verdant back garden. What’s not to like?
It’s likely a lot of families on the home hunt will as equally fall next for the charms of Denmead, for any and many of a variety of reasons... and the prospect of apple pie from the garden harvest may just be the cherry on top.
This is a 1950-built detached home, on good gardens, in a fairly select estate or ‘park,’ as many Douglas residents prefer to term their suburban settings.
Hettyfield’s within a very short walk of all of Douglas village’s myriad amenities and shopping centres (last Saturday’s fire at Douglas Village Shopping Centre notwithstanding). As importantly, it has numerous schools and sports facilities also within walking distance, so it’s a location for life, or at least for the family rearing years.
The vendors at No 38 have put in those hard yards, and the nest is in the last stages of emptying out, so they are going to downsize — or rightsize — and will home hunt in the neighbourhood.
Will they seek a walk-in condition next home? “No way, it will have to be one we can work on,” says the woman of the house.
No 38’s fresh to an autumn market with estate agent Trish Stokes of Lisney, who says it impresses in terms of location, proximity to schools and services in ‘old’ Douglas, as well as in aspect, size, comfort, condition, and, well, subtle show-home touches.
Ms Stokes guides at €795,000, and can expect to be busy. It comes to market after a later June launch of Clogheen, another Hettyfield detached three doors away, at €725,000 with agent Kevin Barry, where that home’s vendor priced a side garden site of 0.11 of an acre separately at €225,000, and has since decided to retain that site herself.
(The Price Register shows 15 sales with a Hettyfield address, and a few topped the €1m mark, while some new-builds on good/garden sites may also be in that price league. A 1990s build, Cedar House, went for sale in June 2018 with a €875,000 price tag via Savills, needing some energy-related upgrade, and is now understood to be sale agreed close to €800,000, more or less where Lisney’s Ms Stokes floats her No 38 Hettyfield.)
Denmead’s departing couplefamily (couple, now, really) bought here about 20 years ago when they relocated from Dublin; they’d rented in Broadale and came across No 38 almost by chance, after it had been quite some time on the market, and thinking it was out of their price range.
It needed loads of work, they knew, but she was smitten. She made one offer, and one offer only, as much as they could afford.
“I said at what price was I prepared to let it go at, and went straight to that level,” she reveals of what still would be considered a quite novel bidding strategy. The selling agent at the time recommended the offer to the vendors, and a sale transpired.
It’s a quite different home now, in most ways, but in others it isn’t at all. It hasn’t been extended, for example, and so might not look too different to outsider eyes.
But, it is different, of course, and significantly so, after walls were moved, spaces opened up, and after an existing rear extension had its roof pitch raised up, and the space within brightened up by roof lights.
It now has an attic conversion too, for example, with a very good sized multi-purpose room (17’ by 14,’ with eaves storage) up a permanent staircase. The first floor had a landing section ‘taken in charge’ by the master bedroom, which now has a walk-through wardrobe with pull-down rails leading to an en-suite bathroom, with corner shower.
This level also has two other bedrooms, a double and a single, plus a main family bathroom.
There’s also a ground floor bedroom four, currently fitted out as a home office for the interior design business, and this is close to a large and very useful utility, and also to a ground floor guest WC, all upgraded like the other bathrooms, except the original wash-hand basin has been kept. Waste not, want not, wash on.
That side annexe bed four/home office has external access to the side of Denmead, and so is useful for continued home office use, for an au pair, adult child, or even for ease of access.
So, the property has optional uses of rooms at both ground and at attic level, while the rest of the ground floor has a very effective floor plan now, after internal walls were moved amid other alterations and upgrades.
There’s a 25’ by 11’ kitchen/family dining room across the house’s rear, with chunky creamy-grained granite worktops atop painted timber units by Celtic Kitchen, as well as Iroko teak tops on the breakfast bar. The usual run of good quality kitchen appliances is bolstered by a Neff coffee maker, while for visual interest, the raising of the roof here allowed lit niches to be created on
high, to display ceramics, art and memorabilia.
The dining end links to a double-depth 25’ by 13’ sitting room, with the original back window kept between both large rooms, for effect, and as a reminder of the home’s 1950s roots. This reception space has a wide-plank oiled hardwood floor installed by Ballygarvan’s Tom Gavin, plus bay window to the front, beyond a black replacement cast-iron fireplace with arched insert.
Separately, off the hall, is a more standard-size c 14’ by 12’ lounge, also with fireplace, while a number of rooms have radiators behind quality, painted cabinets with hinged pull-down fronts, which also allow access to sockets and more, done by Cork company Glenline.
Things like that, and some natty storage spaces and access and niches, as well as pull-out drawers in nearly all the kitchen units, made for easy access for important (and some not-so important) stuff, and is evidence of the professional skills of the interior designer owner who admits that things she has trialled at home, and which work for her and her family, she can confidently recommend also to clients.
As might be expected, Denmead’s in a walk-in condition, done in a low-key fashion without bling, and nothing’s likely to go out of date any time soon.
Then, there’s off-street parking for a good number of cars, and direct, west-facing back garden, with side access past a draped clematis which colonises a side passage, and whose blossom hues pick up on the colour of the front door.
The back garden’s an evening sun trap, with wide patio, water feature, power and water supply and lighting, in a relaxed setting, where planting allows a sort of natural country look too, with fuchsias and montbretia amid laburnum, hawthorn, hydrangea, thuja, hostas, cotoneaster, and camelias.
They combine to feed butterflies, birds and bees, whilst the couple of rosy-cheeked apple trees (a cooker and an eater) fulfill the same feeding role for the occupants and their visitors.