St Clare’s beauty will leave you in 7th heaven

CALLED after a contemplative order of nuns living across College Road is Cork’s St Clare’s Avenue, marking the quiet presence of the Poor Clares Monastery.

This residential road or avenue joining College Road and Glasheen Road has a mix of early 1900s house types, from detached to semis and terraces — and among the very best houses here has to be No 7 — a lucky number indeed.

It’s almost monastically modest about its treasures — from its outside, state-of-grace renovation, you’d suspect it’s pretty good anyway, but once inside, you’re into higher echelons of renovation indeed.

Kerb appeal gives way to envy and even a bit of awe — as in Aw! Pity we can’t all have homes done to this standard.

No7’s a house of two halves, or almost halves, as it has been more than doubled in size since it last changed hands, and essentially the old has been kept old, whilst the new is comfortably contemporary. A century of time separates the two.

The original end-of-terrace house had about 1,000 sq ft when last on the market, around peak time in 2006. Its owner paid handsomely for an untouched house, needing everything brought up to speed. The location, he knew, was considered ‘bullet-proof’ and he and his partner seemed to know instinctively how to make the very most of its attributes and site. It is now more than double the original size (it’s around 2,200 sq ft of best quality space and specification) thanks to an investment of several hundred thousand euros in extension and renovations. It was all done over a nine month, full-on build period trying to keep pace with the imminent arrival of a first baby. This home had to be finished.!

It had taken almost a year to get planning permissions, and adjustments were made but the overall project has not been compromised a whit.

The owners drafted in architect Derek O’Leary (ex John Duffy Architects) after seeing some of his work, and also on board was interior designer Odette Kearney, making for a seamless team who had lots of building and renovation experience beforehand. Each worked to their strengths.

And it really is a must-see, for anyone looking for a truly top-end Cork family home.

No 7 St Clare’s Avenue comes new to market with agent William Hunter of Davis Hunter, who’d also sold it last time around and who has been blown away by the delivered vision. Mr Hunter guides it at €785,000, which to many observers will seem high, but he notes that at that level the owners are clearly taking quite a financial hit. He rightly eulogises its essentials, and it is more than ready to move into.

Photographer Denis Scannell’s images here give the best flavour, and on top of that impression there’s the assurance of a determination to deliver quality, there to the touch.

Add in a location, within a few minutes’ walk of UCC, Bon Secours hospital and consultant clinics, off-street parking for three cars, easy-keep landscaped gardens and seating areas, serious style and comfort, architectural flair and unerring choice of materials, and you can see there’ll be keen viewings from well-heeled niche buyers who’ll look at the bigger, lifestyle picture.

The original house has been sympathetically re-done, set off by new perfect-match sash windows in Edwardian style by Ed Cotter of Classic Joinery on Friar’s Walk. Old plaster has been matched inside over drylining and skirtings, picture rails, etc refitted. It is all re-wired and replumbed, and decor is flawless, mostly in Farrow and Ball as well as Colourtrend paints.

Upstairs, the older portion is home to three pristine bedrooms of original size, and the stairs splits towards the rear, with a sudden change of tempo and era, very contemporary, with the hall’s painted stair spindles giving way to dark hardwood and clear glass ballustrading.

The back portion is home to a large master bedroom, with wall of built-ins and very boutique hotel-like en suite, with Grohe power and rain shower. Sanitary ware is Villeroy and Boch, and showers are tanked behind the tiling by Carrigaline fibreglass specialist Pat O’Neill, to avoid any future leak threats — this was a renovation and extension job very much with the long-term in mind.

The rear, two-story extension is block built, doubly insulated, and heating in the new portion is underfloor, and zoned. In fact, the house is so warm the owners say in three years they’ve never had to put on heating in the back, main bedroom.

Back downstairs the back half of the house is largely open plan. There’s a long but very bright and airy link corridor, with a side hall door to the drive. This main entry point effectively allows a choice of going to the old, front, or modern new — after all, this house is now quite incredibly almost 65’ deep, front door to the back door and wall of glazing.

Architect Derek O’Leary’s skills are evident in just how much light gets into the back section. There’s no dreary corridors, and the kitchen/dining section has three roof lights punched up into the ceilings, with subtle LED lighting around a shadow gap for evening sophistication.

You can tell this No 7 was done by people who know how to make a house work. Even though there’s a sexy-looking, wall mounted extract above the big Miele gas hob (sexy extract? you’re either into this stuff or you’re not!) there’s a remote control-operated opening roof window to allow extra venting from exuberant cheffing. Large sliding doors draw back across the dining area to open the house to the expansively-landscaped private back gardens (by Kenmare’s Outlook Gardens), with raised outdoor dining spot, granite steps, bamboo screen, no less than half a dozen Dicksonia tree ferns, and swish, treated teak decking under the roof overhang.

The walnut kitchen units are by Scovolini, via David Kiely in Carrigaline, with white granite tops, there’s an insinkerator, and brand name appliances by the likes of Neff, Miele, etc, while flooring and shelving is also in rich walnut.

There’s a quiet family area tucked away off the dining space, with an open fire and a window giving a glimpse of St Clare’s Avenue.

The owner, who has built before in Ireland and the US, is making a move to the country, kids in tow and dogs in mind.

No 7’s selling agent William Hunter says everything is finished to the highest possible standard, in every detail. He’s correct, and what’s more, while the best of things have been put in, there’s no bling. None, and nun, bettered.

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