Signs of quality investment —inside and out

A three-storey 1890s build has been lovingly restored to perfect condition, says Tommy Barker

    Price: €495,000
    Size: 170sq m (1,839sq ft)
    Bedrooms: 4
    Bathrooms: 2
    BER: E1

GOOD jobs, abroad, mean the owners of Ardskeagh aren’t coming home any time soon, hence their decision to put their reworked Victorian Cork city home, above St Luke’s Cross, up for sale, complete with a few select items of upmarket, oversized furniture.

They’d bought this three-storey 1890s build back in 2007, effectively as the market came to its pinch-point peak (ouch). Yet, unlike many others who’d bought around then and had wounds to lick, they embarked on a steady, further investment programme, most notably in 2014, when they reroofed this tall, and elegant, Gardiners Hill classic of the genre.

As it now goes back on the market after a 12 year hiatus, it’s clearly in excellent fettle, both inside and outside, and corners don’t seem to have been cut on any level either.

That’s seen in the quality of the replacement double glazed sash windows, the redone new roof, the extensive cobbles and salvage red brick trimmed front garden and limestone steps, by a red Japanese acer, and ringed with inset LED lighting.

Internally, the evidence is seen in the modern Aga in the kitchen, in the teak hall floor and the gleaming, stained timber floors in the ground floor’s twin reception rooms, in the lighting, curtains and chandeliers, in the revamped side-by-side bathroom/WC on the stair return.

The spend is less obvious, but reassuringly done, in the rewiring and the replumbing and even more so in the relining of the various chimneys, a very consoling fact given this house’s two fireplaces with stoves (one at ground floor, another on the first floor) plus a gas fireplace insert in another period chimneypiece surround, and several other retained original fireplaces, even up to an attic bedroom or two.

And, it’s all been well done, without doing so much that the 1896-built semi-d loses its patina of age: that’s visible in things like retained and painted timbers, the stairs, architraves, deep ceiling coving and picture rails, many working window shutters, the original, stout and study panel doors with their original door handles.

It’s also remarkably obvious in things like the hugely worn limestone step between the kitchen and the hall, dipping in pockets from generations of constant footfall. Little wonder its selling agent Gillian McDonald of Sherry FitzGerald pulls out descriptive adjectives such as stunning and pristine and observes “it has been lovingly finished to a high standard.” It’s attractive even from the road outside on Gardiners Hill, with its Virginia creeper recently cut back at mid-facade level but not wholly butchered, and its sympathetic, replacement hardwood front door is painted a bright and cheery red, with inset stained glass.

New windows are smooth running sashes, and there’s even a new, simple window at the attic level dormer, with repainted fascias done probably when the roof was redone.

Despite its age, it’s more or less a relatively low maintenance buy now for its next owners, with front garden tamed and cobbled, and with a tidy rear courtyard and higher level walled in lawn, surrounded by old stone walls.

There’s a sort of overlap of room functions inside, as there’s a first floor sitting room with stove (unusually, to the back, not the front of this three-storey home) on top of the ground floor’s reception rooms (linked by part-glazed double doors), and its four bedrooms too are spread over two levels, mid and attic.

There’s a full width master bedroom at Ardskeagh’s front, with three tall sash windows, dressed with roman blinds, and the gracefully proportioned room has a slate fireplace, wood floor, coved ceilings and original door.

Ardkseagh’s stairs and pitch pine handrail are rock solid, right up to the attic where this uppermost level has three dormer style bedrooms off a small landing, while the mid-level return houses a modern bathroom with metro style tiling and separate shower. Separate too is the WC right alongside, with lovely, deep-hued glass door panels in yellow, blue and red.

Original too in the upgraded kitchen/breakfast room (painted units, Aga and electric back-up Zanussi oven) is the red and black encaustic tiled floor, and there’s a part-screened area between this annex room and the rear patio, useful as a utility, home office or just sit, read and chill space.

Outside is a side passage, low patio, and then a raised garden with gravel beds, decking and railing, and pergola, with surrounding low beds, and a side access gate, not used in years on the visible evidence.

Offered by Sherry FitzGerald’s Ms McDonnell at a €495,000 guide, and given recent demand (and, sales successes) for period homes in and around St Luke’s Cross within a walk of the city (car parking is on the hill outside, with residents’ permit), this seem very achievable, and the sale includes some large items of items of pretty expensive furniture, bearing as little sign of wear as Ardskeagh’s reworked and redecorated portions do.

VERDICT: City living, aloof, aloft.

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