Two for one offer at former Variety Stores in Cork

An Edwardian shop addition to a Victorian terrace has been tastefully converted, with an apartment on each floor, writes Trish Dromey.

With an Edwardian shop front at one side and a bay window on the other, No 1 Victoria Avenue — off the junction of Cork’s main Blackrock Road and Old Blackrock Road — stands out quite noticeably from its taller, three-storey Victorian neighbours.

The two-storey building dates from 1902 and seems to have been an early Edwardian addition to the Victorian terrace.

The owners believe that the frontage is original and that it was purpose-built as a corner shop.

Its original name may have possibly been the Variety Stores, but locals probably remember it better as Nolan’s and later Hogan’s.

Several generations bought groceries and sweets there before it went the way of most local shops at the end of last century.

The current owners purchased it in the early 2000s attracted by its central location, off the Blackrock Road and also by its period character.

An architect was brought in to produce a redesign which would keep the shop front façade and the bay window but turn the property into two separate apartments.

“We gutted and rebuilt it, re-plastering, rewiring and putting in new plumbing, heating and windows. The windows are double glazed except for the front ones upstairs which are triple glazed,’’ they say.

Although they put in 21st-century plumbing, heating and windows the owners went to great pains to create a home with a period feel. Keeping some original fireplaces and doors, and putting in reclaimed timber beams and flooring they furnished with a mix of modern and vintage furniture.

The lady of the house, a ceramic artist, chose strong, vibrant colours for the walls, decorating with a selection of prints and paintings.

The original shop entrance has been replaced with a set of glazed double doors, which now serve as the front entrance to a 1,000 sq ft ground floor apartment.

The space where locals shopped has now become a long living/dining room with reclaimed pitch pine flooring and ceiling beams, which came all the way from a cotton mill in Louisiana.

While renovating this room the owners took the plaster off the end wall to reveal the brick work and a chimney arch which they fitted with a stove.

To the rear, they demolished and rebuilt an old single storey kitchen extension, putting in a new skylight.

Mixing modern cream units and appliances with cabinets made from reclaimed timber, and setting black and ochre splash-back tiles against a blue wall, the new kitchen has been decorated with obvious artistic flair.

In the narrow utility room at the rear the owners found space not just for a washing machine but also for the ceramic artist’s large electric kiln.

The room behind the front bay window has been made into a master bedroom with one wall of mirrored Sliderobes — here, the front bay area provides a perfect space for a dressing table.

Off the hallway is an oak floored hallway painted deep yellow which has double doors leading into a bathroom with a roll top, cast iron bath as well as a modern shower unit and yellow and green ceramic wall tiles.

To the rear there’s a second bedroom which has an original fireplace with a slate mantlepiece.

Entrance to the 800 sq ft upstairs apartment is through the turquoise front door which leads to a hallway and stairwell painted a vibrant shade of yellow.

At the top of the stairs there’s a spacious landing with a roof light and some original dipped and reconditioned doors.

At the front there is a sitting room which has an original Art Deco cast iron fireplace, painted black with some gold leaf.

There’s also an L-shaped kitchen with cream units and fitted appliances as well as two carpeted bedrooms — one painted deep turquoise and the other dark blue.

At this level there’s also a bathroom with shower quadrant and a door leading out on to a terrace above the utility room.

In front of the property, inside a low wall topped by railing, is a tarmac area with space for three cars — something most of the Victorian neighbours don’t have. To the rear off the kitchen there’s a small enclosed yard with a timber shed.

Guiding No 1 Victoria Avenue at €395,000, Marshs auctioneers say this is a highly unusual property which suit a number of different scenarios.

“It could be a large family residence or an investment property but could would also be bought by someone who lives in one apartment and rents out the other or uses it as a granny flat or for grown-up children,” suggests auctioneer Hugh McPhillips.

The current owners made the ground floor apartment their home and rented out the upstairs one, sometimes using it for their family. Now, they are decamping with their vintage furniture collection to a cottage in east Cork which they are planning to remake.

Mr McPhillips says that the off- Blackrock Road location, within a 15-minute walk from the city centre, is a very significant attraction for this property.

  • VERDICT: A tasteful and interesting mix of old and new
  • Victoria Avenue, Cork, €395,000
  • Size: 167 sq m (1,800 sq ft)
  • Bedrooms: 4
  • Bathrooms: 2
  • BER: D1

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