ESTATE agent Timothy Sullivan barely hedges his bets, when he says he reckons that No 15 Barnstead Drive is most likely the best individual house, in this rather exclusive, hideaway Blackrock suburban development of solid, solid homes.
First off, it was in its first 1960s heydays as the private family home of a builder Michael Hegarty who presumably knew a thing or two about site selection, and knowingly he selected No 15 Barnstead Drive for his own residency.
Second: it’s a detached, in this architecturally engaging (in a sort of 1960s way) niche scheme comprising Barnstead Drive and Barnstead Avenue, with its mix of feature cedar sheeting and cedar shingles, in off the chic Church Road, within an amble of Cork’s Blackrock village and the Marina.
Third, it’s on a very private and secure site, in a corner setting, tucked right away in at the quietest part of a cul de sac. And, it faces a proper, mature green area, with decades old hardwood trees, almost on an aesthetic par with the green in the adjacent Menloe Gardens, just a bit ‘shaded’ in age terms by Menloe’s most magnificent chestnuts.
Next, No 15’s walled-in back garden faces west, with patio and sun room, all very privately screened at garden level, thanks not only to its mature planting, but as much, if not more so, to that of all of its neighbours, including in Menloe Park, and in Menloe Gardens.
Even as you ascend upwards, in this extended now three-storey home, the views out are leafy, green and engaging, with the only contrast being the private sports court of an adjacent Blackrock Road family home, and the tennis courts and lawn to the north east quadrant, the home of the St Michael’s Lawn Tennis Club, next to the Blackrock Bowling Club, facilities with a 100 year sports pedigree, on Barnstead’s doorstep.
No 15 Barnstead Drive’s family have been here for nearly half of this detached property’s life, about 23 years, and since its first construction, it had passed through at least one other, if not two, ownerships after builder Michael Hegarty’s tenure. They worked with the existing house, which already had side ‘wing’ extensions, and happily discovered several very high quality hardwood parquet floors in various rooms when they lifted carpets.
Then, with engineering prowess, they raised the pitch of the roofs and ceiling along the sides of the house’s main, sturdy block, and went into the attic, getting proper stair access in timbers to match the original stairs (cedar too?), and slotted in two attic level bedrooms, plus compact shower room, and each of the two bedrooms now has a feature, eyerie porthole window in their gable ends.
Also, at the mid-level, they joined two of what had been four first floor bedrooms into one large 24’ by 12’ bedroom, but chose not to integrate an en suite into the enlarged master bedroom: it’s about the only physical change a new owner might want to do, and that’s entirely discretionary.
But, it’s at ground level that No 15’s floor plan really trumps, with large-scale rooms in the main as a stand-out feature, and which give the impression there’s even more house here than the 2,770 sq ft measurement might suggest.
There’s a great 24’ by 12’ rear sitting room, with a gas fire, and this room links to a triple aspect sun room, with solid roof, now wood-sheeted internally.
Separately, there’s a study/TV room with parquet floor, while across the hall is the airy interconnectedness of the kitchen with granite topped units in alder, living room with full-height stone chimney breast and stove, and a family space, and these benefit in particular from having had their ceiling heights and pitches raised.
A back hall leads past the office/den/TV room to a large, guest WC with large, sunken shower, used in the past for ‘hosing’ down (now-adult) children after games, say one of the owners, recalling there had been a Jacuzzi here in previous owners’ times.
No 15’s now too big for its remaining occupants, it’s trade-down time, and it’s listed for sale with Tim Sullivan at €850,000. Only superficially and at first glance might that seem steep, as it’s more 1960s than 1860s’ period. But, once visited and its scope appreciated, it shows itself to be a highly practicable family home, with space aplenty, in a cracking setting too, needing little more than a fresh decorative blast of energy.
Already, Mr Sullivan can expect to see some familiar trading-up family faces coming here to view: he’s just gone ‘sale agreed’ on the original Barnstead House on Church Road proper, on whose original lands Barnsted Drive and Barnstead Avenue got built by the O’Connor brothers in the ’60s.
He’d launched that Georgian-built, Victorian-extended home Barnsted House several months ago at €725,000 for vendors who are building in the side garden, and it’s now agreed at a bit over €800,000, and is likely to be further invested in, while the Price Register shows No 1 Barnstead Drive as having sold a year ago, for €706,500.
Aross the road from Barnstead Drive Mr Sullivan’s also agreed a sale on Dundanion House, right on Church Road (there’s another even grander house of the same name on the Blackrock Road) in the mid €900,000s, having launched that architect-extended 1930s build of 3,000 sq ft last year at €1.05 million, and having shown it to well over a dozen parties.
VERDICT: Calling all underbidders...