WHY the long face? This Blarney district home, with a super-long facade, is a cracking good example of how to bring a decades’ old bungalow up to speed, imbue it with light, and really up the ante on creature comforts within.
This much-extended and upgraded home called The Swallows, has almost doubled in size since its current owners bought it, drafted in an architect, and in the process enlarged it from 1,200 sq ft to over 2,200 sq ft, giving it a front elevation or face that could be almost 70’ wide, thanks to bridging over to link into an original, adjacent detached garage.
As garage ‘conversions’ go, it’s a cracker, and in fact turns out to be the making of this reinvigorated, ‘contemporised’ rural home, on a three-quarter acre site at Upper Cloghroe, near Blarney.
South-facing, on a sloping site, it looks over a green valley to a long estate wall skirting a hillside and a farm courtyard, elevated on the facing hill.
That land and view is part of the Blarney Estate, and the ‘Great Wall of Cloghroe’ is a survivor of the old Ardrum Estate, home up to the 19th century to the Colthurst family who married into Blarney, with the original Georgian Ardrum House subsequently demolished.
By comparison, The Swallows has been home and ‘castle’ to a couple who’ve worked in Cork and Dublin, and who, when early retirement came around with family reared, were able to up sticks and relocate to Spain for much of the year.
Hence, possibly, the migratory name of The Swallows here in question which has proved just too big for their needs and the amount of time they spend back in Cork.
It’s brand new to market this month with estate agent Malcolm Tyrrell of Cohalan Downing, who guides the walk-in job at €475,000, and who praises its freshness, originality and sheer functionality, all in a bright and light-infused home.
Much of the credit for the ‘volte face’ and freshening up goes to architect Andrew Shorten of Elite Architects, Cork, who suggested how to work with the orientation, light and site.
“We hardly changed a thing that Andrew proposed in his design,” say the occupants who have engineering/building experience, and who oversaw the work themselves as a direct labour project using the best of local tradespeople.
It took nine months to turn around, and was completed three years ago, with all new services, wiring, plumbing,insulation, energy upgrades etc, topped off by a scene-setting garden strip with rows of birches and daisy-strewn wild flower meadow patch.
Now, it’s quite a house of two halves: the original bungalow section, on the left, is home to four bedrooms, left and right of a central hallway, while one of the front rooms in this wing is also home to a snug family/TV room, complete with cream-coloured wood-burning stove, which makes it very cosy indeed... it’s called The Snug.
Centre point and pivot of the house now is the new mid-section hall, with tall, framed entrance statement in gray, rendered portico, by a lofty front door with glazed side and top panels.
Then, left and right of this open welcoming point are as-tall glass panes, 3.2 metres or over 10’ high, which give arresting views back over the gardens and to Ardrum across the valley.
Light bounces around this middle section, reflected off large, pure white Crema Marfil floor tiles, and the same tiles are used in the all-white kitchen on a half level above.
Here, units are white, and reconstituted stone worktops are white.
The Belfast-style ceramic sink is white, walls are white, as are ceilings and then, zing! The retro, stiped Smeg fridge offers a pop of colour.
Clearly, when you factor in other touches such as lighting, exterior garden seating, side and rear courtyard sun-traps and contemporary art on the walls, you accept this is a house owned by a couple with design experience and willing to take a chance.
Separately, there are two access points to the scene-setting main reception area, the living/dining room which now occupies the spot which had been the quite large, detached garage.
It’s been re-roofed, using original tiles, and now is 16’ wide, and 31’ deep, with part-vaulted ceilings and on split levels, with three steps up to the dining end.
It’s a great, inviting airy room, with floor to ceiling windows at the front east/south corner, there’s a second cream enamelled wood-burning stove by the living section and the oak floor’s in Kahrs hardwood wide planks.
Continuing a flow that must be great for entertaining and parties, there are French doors from the dining section to a decked courtyard garden and BBQ destination, quite Mediterranean in feel with block-built seating painted white, set off by coloured cushions, and an outdoor bar, with (non-functioning right now, so no ‘swallows’) beer taps.
Handily, if you do have a thirst, Blair’s Inn is in view, 200 metres away, one of two bars within a short stroll and Cloghroe has a bus service, back via the city to Mahon’s office parks for those that still need a job to go to.
Quite stand-out in it owns reworked field, The Swallows itself has repeat patterns of reconfigured windows, each tilt and turn unit serving almost as a door, and has uniformly high finishes and indoor and outdoor, lighting, good bathrooms with underfloor heating, and all feels ‘as new.’
: High end, no Blarney.