Architect designed homes at Elden were built to a high spec on many levels, writes Tommy Barker.
Maryborough Hill, Cork €450,000
Size: 144 sq m (1,550 sq ft)
THE quite serene air at 16 Elden is about to be shattered.
This, the best-sited home in the contemporary niche house development by Douglas Golf Club has just come for sale, and viewing demand and footfall is going to be impressively strong.
The almost-certain level of interest (open viewing Monday 4-4.30pm, line up) should translate into good bidding too, as the departing owners prepare to trade up to a larger-sited suburban home, one needing full renovations, making moving and makeover plans with two small children in tow (how can a home look so pristine with smallies? Must be something to do with lots of storage.)
The vendors, a structural engineer, and an IT specialist who moved back home to Cork from London, are young enough to take on the challenge of a major refurb, and what they are leaving behind at 16 Elden is pristine, all finished to a high spec, as they made changes and enhancements along the way when they got the chance to buy during the construction period about seven years ago.
Elden itself launched in June 2007, with 27 houses and 47 apartments to sell on a sloping woodland garden of an older dwelling called Elden, which was bought and demolished by developers O’Flynn Construction for this good-looking contemporary scheme, designed by architects Roderick Hogan Associates.
It was a bit after the launch that No 16, on its absolutely ace site, fell into the laps of its owners: it had been reserved for someone else, but unexpectedly came back again, and they plumped straight away for it: no regrets.
They say that despite the promise of their next project, they really are going to miss all the good stuff at No 16.
That ‘good stuff’ includes what’s most probably the best and also the largest site within Elden’s ‘house’ section.
It’s in at the very far end, by a green, skirted by mature deciduous trees to a neighbour’s boundary now in full autumnal hues, as well as views down over that sloping green to the inner reaches of Cork harbour towards Mahon and Little Island over water and tides and the odd bit of boat activity.
There’s only a couple of houses in Elden with a harbour view, and No 16’s one of them, although the sweeping and curving high-quality apartment block in the other ‘half’ of Elden has many units with water aspect, especially from its two spectacular penthouses.
And, while the houses have sold and resold steadily, primarily to owner occupiers, it’s only in the past year or two that the apartments have been sold on by developers O’Flynn Constructions, at price averaging in the mid €200,000s for two-beds, up to €596,000 and €630,000 for the absolutely high-end penthouses, some of suburban Cork’s very best.
Back on the ‘house’ half of stylish-looking Elden, No 16 has a contemporary poise outside and inside; the gardens are super-smart, easy to keep, and highly functional, and the crisp lines of the limestone-floored, rear garden patio is a year-round sun-trap, enhanced by the clever insertion of an outdoor fireplace inset into a smooth-rendered block-built wall.
What with the neat trim of the laurel hedging, rug-size grass section and sheer tidiness, it really is that modern classic ‘room outdoors’, in almost all weathers, and the owners also added on a block-built rendered shed, plumbed and with power.
House design, site, and internal layouts were dictated in considerable part by the slopes and setting, and so No 16 Elden has the quite familiar Roderick Hogan design feature of rooms and functions separated by levels or short flights of stairs.
In some Cork Hogan schemes (eg, The Paddocks, Court Cairn, and Heatherfield in Waterfall) the stepped levels are little more than a space-delineating interior design approach, but the evidence at 16 Elden is that it also was done here to work with the site’s contours on the side of Maryborough Hill.
As a result, this c 1,550 sq ft three-bed, semi-detached home effectively has its rooms spread over four levels, albeit some are half levels of seven or eight steps only “and that will keep you fit, mobile and young” quips estate agent Michael O’Donovan of Savills, Cork.
Mr O’Donovan guides No 16 at €450,000, and he’s probably going to get bidding in excess of that given its huge appeal and level of finish and comfort, but quite possibly he’s erring on the cautious side as it is ‘just’ a three bed, and a semi, some will think.
For the right buyers, though, it’s no more going to be seen as ‘three-bed semi-d’ ... it’s going to be a ‘must-have’.
It’s in drive-in, walk-in condition, with manicured, landscaped grounds and neat lawn past the cobble lock double drive and long boundaries of acers, grasses, hydrangeas, laurel, and rhododendron colour, with mature ash and lime trees among the older hardwoods and deciduous trees towering behind.
It probably all looked immaculate up until a few weeks ago, now falling leaves are making it a changing picture, almost by the day. And, what russet colours!
Once inside No 16’s freshly painted white render walls and burgundy-coloured front door, the colour palette narrows: white walls, grey powder-coated aluminium double glazing, much of it floor to ceiling, and lots and lots of oak joinery.
Floors are in white American oak, in decent, chunkily wide planks, doors are oak with glass panels, some sandblasted, while a tall pane of glass next to the door to the kitchen/dining/family room off the first half landing means light goes through this deep house, from front to back.
Joinery levels on the stairs is excellent, nary a squeak, with painted risers and varnished oak treads, set off by painted spindles and square newels in varnished oak.
These have a white-painted geometric top detail, very à la Charles Rennie Mackintosh-design style.
Off left on entry level is a sitting room, 15’ deep and 12’ wide with a wide, gas-lit inset fire, at least a metre wide, a slick insert in a black granite surround by the feature wallpapered wall, with built in storage units and oak shelves either sides.
There’s a discrete coffered/recessed section in this room’s ceiling, with recessed mood lighting, and it’s wired for sound.
Windows in this room are floor to ceiling, and effectively full width of the room with double door in the middle for front garden access.
As the site’s so private, the owners say they often take a few seats outside to enjoy the view down toward the harbour.
Back inside the room, the feature gas fire’s even a tad wider than the TV which sits on the mantlepiece above, and which on a winter’s eve is probably is a better visual draw than a lot of what’s on the box.
Also on ground/entry level is guest WC, and a separate, shelved cloakroom plus store with wine cooler, while there’s a utility up above on the same half level as the kitchen/family space, with dining table by a back, glazed protrusion and further French doors to the quite structured and mannered rear garden.
The kitchen’s layout was altered too by No 16 owners
when they bought, and has gloss and timber units topped with black granite on three sides plus low splashback, creating a useful breakfast seating peninsula for casual serving and dining.
Demarcating functions, the kitchen section’s floor is tiled, and the rest is wide plank American oak flooring: both kitchen and dining area have garden views.
There are three en suite carpeted bedrooms over the next two half levels, with carpeted landings, and the larger of the two front bedrooms has a Juliet-style glass balcony, screening inward-opening double doors, with water views in the mid-distance.
While those two bedrooms’ en suites have showers, the largest bedroom of all, the master which is set to the back of the house, is the largest bedroom, has the largest bathroom, with a bath, and the sleeping/washing function are separated by a decent sized walk-through dressing room, with banks of built-ins behind wood-veneered doors.
There’s assuredly clean lines throughout Elden, and No 16 is no exception, inside or outside, and its raised gable roof barges are a feature, as is the two-storey box section in front.
No 16 has zoned gas heating, good broadband, surround sound wiring, and some top-notch bespoke joinery, such as shelving and some units in oak by cabinet maker Jeffrey Deane, who’s based in Dunmanway, Co Cork.
Back at time of launch in 2007, as the market had just begun to peak, Elden houses were priced from €475,000 for mid-terraces, up to €520/570,000, while the top detacheds of 1,770 sq ft were priced above €900,000.
As a sign of the crazier times that was in it about ’06/’07, several Rochestown Road homes were topping €4 million; a 0.2 acre site sold for €800,000; a bungalow bought by a trader-down made €1.5m, and — wait for it — Castlelands Construction wanted to pay €170m for land including 118 acres at Douglas Golf Course, to build in excess of 2,000 new homes on Maryborough Hill.
Elden’s developers O’Flynn Construction paid several million euros, off-market, for the old Elden and its several wooded acres a few years previously, and O’FC also considered buying an adjoining home for even more land.
Now, that adjacent 1960s property, Karon Cottage on 1.5 acres, has since come to the open market, in September of this year, guiding at €950,000 via Sherry Fitz, and is already marked ‘sale agreed’ for above its asking price.
Douglas Golf Club and mature course is still here, as is Maryborough House Hotel below Elden, while Douglas village is an easy downhill walk.
The departing occupants at No 16 say the quick access to the ring road up higher on Maryborough Hill (which can suffer from peak time traffic congestion) means getting out and about, and to and from work, is easy.
Preparing for open viewings at No 16 Monday afternoon, Savills estate agent Michael O’Donovan says he feels interest will come from a cross-section, of affluent relocaters, young professionals, and even traders down.
Despite the several internal levels one of the most recent Elden house resales was to a trader down.
VERDICT: Cool, calm and collected ... until the bidding starts, at least.