Hillside: Refurbed home a base camp in Blackrock

Old Blackrock Road refurbed home is in walk-in condition, and is an easy walk to all of Cork city centre’s services and amenities too, says Tommy Barker.

ALL done up a decade ago, there’s not much at all, if anything, to do at Hillside, only to move in, and get ready to have all of Cork city centre’s attractions on your doorstep, within a short walk.

Handily too, despite the name ‘Hillside’, that walk to town is pretty much ‘on the flat’, you’re hardly hiking up in the hills of a city rightly known for some of its steep inclines.

We’re talking a location on the Old Blackrock Road, just past the South Infirmary hospital.... it’s hardly a base camp in the Rockies.

A new-to-market listing with estate agent Malcolm Tyrrell of Cohalan Downing, Hillside is an extended and upgraded semi-d, now a very respectable 2,000 sq ft-plus, with four bedrooms, especially a particularly capacious master suite. It has characterful old touches in its original reception rooms — such as lovely old and original fireplaces — and a bright and modern new wing and kitchen/diner, along with off-street parking and a south-facing sun-trap back garden.

What more could you want?

Oh, and it’s priced at €440,000, so it’s not off the Richter Scale in terms of price ask. (The same agent Mr Tyrrell last year had a strong sale, a period home called Eskank on the eastern end of the Old Blackrock Road and it shows on the Price Register late in 2018 at €845,000, albeit for a larger, detached on a big site.) Hillside’s vendors are keen to move on and don’t want to hang about waiting for a long bidding process, it would appear, and it seems primed indeed to move along swiftly.

The current family owners, who are about to relocate and are eyeing up an opportunity outside Cork, they did Hillside’s full overhaul back in 2009, and prior to that they drafted in the services of architect Edel Regan (www.erarch.net) to transform the then-decades’ old house, and to near double it is size.

Hillside briefly appeared in these property pages, back in 2004, in a more ‘original state’, when it still had four bedrooms, and a decor theme which included the use of old salvage from boats in some of its bedrooms. As this was back in pre-Price Register days, no sale details are available, but in ’04 it had a €390,000 asking price.

What was done in 2009 can’t have been cheap: it has been extended over two levels to the rear, and also added on to the side where (after knocking a garage) it just about has a small bit of clearance from its side boundary: a sliver, really.

It has lots of glazing to the back, where the sun is and where the landscaped garden is lovely and private, but in a fairly unflashy way, and has all new windows all around.

It has been replastered externally right the way around, with what looks like a permanent coloured sand render, and has a contrasting render band half way up, between the two-storey house’s levels, a bit like a cummerbund.

The property was reroofed, and chimneys rendered to keep it dry from the top down, and then, out of sight, the property’s drains were also replaced, so in essence, from most points of view, it’s as good as new, only in a great, settled location where new development might, at best, be restricted to one-offs in black gardens, or knock-and-replace jobs.

Hillside has double glazing, gas central heating, a tall, contemporary-design Westfire wood-burning stove in its kitchen/dining room which looks good even when unlit as a fixture, and gets an overall B3 BER — none too scanty, for sure.

The list continues: there’s new flooring in most of the home, bar in the interconnected, front-to-back reception rooms which link via an arch, and those twin rooms have old, polished pine floors and two different/unmatched fireplaces, each with a sort of 1930s vibe to them, one with a tall hardwood surround, the other’s in slate, and each is as lovely looking as the other.

In contrast, the rest of the now-deepened home, from the hall all the way back to the extension’s end, is floored in large-size pale porcelain tiling. Internal joinery includes simple, almost Shaker-style replacement doors, and lighting is a mix of recessed downlighters, and some feature fittings.

The owners, who have small children, also drafted in the services of an interior designer so there’s a bit of extra spike to the smallies’ bedrooms and play room, as well as some feature wallpapers, radiator covers, a few over-sized mirrors, well-chosen curtains and blinds, and well-sized furniture pieces.

Tipping up to 2,050 sq ft means there was enough room found (in addition to the two reception rooms and to the kitchen/diner) for a very practical and accommodating utility room, a compact guest WC under the stairs, and a front playroom/den/study.

Out the very back, then, is where the largest and most used space of all is found, with a kitchen almost now in two sections, both occupying part of the original house’s footprint, and the new, even larger extension, with banks of kitchen units and island/breakfast bar all done by Celtic Interiors, in walnut/hardwoods.

The first ‘mid-house’ section has floor-to-ceiling units, including twin Bosch ovens, a pull-out larder and a concealed Liebherr fridge/freezer.

The further section, has masses of units, some at eye level, a ceramic Bosch hob and extract, sink, dishwasher, a display alcove bookcase/shelving, the room’s book-ended by an extensively-glazed back wall facing south, virtually floor-to-ceiling glass, and then there’s double doors access on a side wall to the back garden.

Off the kitchen too, is the side wing addition is the utility/laundry, with good storage, including some neatly inset into a wall divide, and this room also houses the central heating boiler, and has external access also.

That enclosed outdoors space, while not a huge garden, is well landscaped and planted around the perimiter for year-round interest and screening, and includes a small lawn, and decking, in an L-shape, across the back of the extension and down along its side, where the original boundary wall to the other ‘half’ of this pair of semi-ds has been reskinned in redbrick for additional visual appeals: this space is both sheltered and a sun-trap enthuses CDA auctioneer Malcolm Tyrrell.

Back inside, and very much retaining its ‘old house’ feel is the character of the carpeted staircase, with painted handrail and original, ornate turned spindles, with wood cladding along the lower section of the stairs, by the hall.

Meanwhile, tucked away, under the higher portion of the staircase, is a guest WC, fully tiled in small, black and white tiling, a bit like being inside some random, 3D chess board with unlimited possibilities. (For those not up to it, the owners had bought new tiles for this small space, but the job wasn’t prioritised, so they are there for next occupants should they so wish to roll up their sleeves?)

On the first floor, proper, Hillside easily gets in four bedrooms, with two small spaces (a box room, since linked up to an extra bit of grafted on room thanks to the side extension) now conjoined for a nursery/study, there are two further standard sized doubles, with built-ins, and a large, well-tiled main family bathroom, with shower and Jacuzzi/jetted bath.

Then, more or less in its own, private remove is the triple aspect master bedroom suite, about 20’ by 14’ with south facing end window and with a series of small windows on either side wall, above head height. And, a wall of sliding robes serves as a part boundary between the sleeping area, and the fully tiled en suite bathroom, with shower.

Overall, Hillside’s condition, inside and outside is very good, maintenance levels have been good and it should be an easy house to keep also over many more years to come.

Add in a good BER, off-street parking, and a setting within a ten minute walk of the city centre, and it’s quite the appealing package.

Big enough for a family, it’s also great for a couple, or even traders down and traders in. About the only demographic that it mightn’t square with quite so well is a young family who want the traditional housing estate set-up, with open greens, and cul de sacs, for kids to mix with neighbours’ kids and kick a ball around on. But, there’s safe space behind for a trampoline, and then some.

VERDICT: Utter convenience, and a broadly affordable price ticket too.

Old Blackrock Road,

Cork City


Size: 190 sq m (2,050 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 3


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