You can kind of tell when you enter the home of a serial renovator — there’s a considered and clever approach to the decoration. Those ‘tells’ that let you know the person here has covered a few glossy magazine articles in their time, but also a person who can edit the trends and marry them with a good eye — not just for colour, pattern, furniture and finishing, but also for the area that’s being designed.
Spatial awareness is the fancy name. Knowing what fits is the less elegant way to describe it. Or perhaps the aphorism, ‘less is more’ works best of all.
Knowing when to stop is key too — you don’t need a whole load of stuff to make a room right, you just need the right things.
So, Catherine Walsh knows the right thing when it comes up. She’s not a fan of buying stuff and ramming a house full of on-trend furniture. Neither does she subscribe to paying overwhelming prices for kitchens and bathrooms. No, she keeps it on the downlow, has a considered edit in her kitchen, (in-frame all the way), but has spent money on a good stove and a good fridge — the things you need to last the test of time.
She’s been there, done that, and appreciates the beauty of a thing, so the house is full of interesting items, clever adaptations and a sense of fun too.
This is her third time on these pages, she tells me, as she and her husband have worked their way up and down the property ladder.
They sold in Ballincollig to build in the outskirts, (an early Greenfields adaptor), and then sold up to move into something smaller at 58 Bridgewater.
Along the way, her birdies have fledged and flown and now that there is only one left in the nest, there’s a last throw of the dice and, while I’m not allowed to say, she’s selling up to follow a dream this time round.
Which brings in Terence O’Leary of Murray Browne, who has listed the four-bed detached at €395,000 and, a week in, there’s an offer over the asking price.
Now these houses are hardy perennials — even in the crash they sold well and held good values — rental prices are also quite substantial.
Set in a dense old woodland on a high bluff over the Lee, the location, (directly off a roundabout) is a zip either way to town or Ballincollig and the bypass route.
There’s a big, safe green in the main centre of the estate for small children and lesser, more sheltered areas that are the ideal choice of teenagers.
Catherine’s house is more private again, however, being the last house on a hidden leg smack bang up against the woodland shelter belt.
She says they viewed the house in winter and when she got out of the car, all she saw was the river and that was that.
The process of moving in and making it her own took time and again, her experience showed in that she lived in the house a while before adding on the kitchen extension to the rear — in the original plan, it was to the front, in what’s now the TV room.
This simple projection created one of the most charming features of the site, it created two terraces/ gardens at the back, discrete areas used to track the sun all day long — there’s another little bistro area tucked into a corner in the front.
There’s no getting away from the fact that the site here is quite small, but Catherine has turned a disadvantage into an advantage by breaking up the site.
She’s created lovely rooms on each side of the house, with double doors leading directly out from each side from the kitchen. And then, the tall trees and quiet, cul-de-sac location do the rest of the work to create an oasis of tranquility.
Mind you, the giant man-shed does take up a lot of space, but this is part of the charm of the garden. It’s tricked out to look its best, and it adds to, rather than detracts from, the ambience. Put a bar inside and you’d have Geordie George round with a Shed of the Year gong in no time.
Inside, rooms are finished in Farrow and Ball colours with classic furniture from Arnott’s, Dublin, Top Drawer, Cork, Laura Ashley, Casey’s and more.
The main hallway is in ‘Elephant’s breath’ on the base, with ‘Skimming stone’ used on top and in the TV room, a tartan wallpaper in soft hues is from Harry Corry, with ‘Stiff Key Blue’ used on a single wall — this has great presence.
The kitchen/ diner extension is finished in ‘Abyssinian’ by Colortrend and the hand-made kitchen units and island are finished in ‘Elephant’s breath’.
Outside, the lounge chairs are Cuprinol’s ‘Wild Thyme’ and the sense of a room is created by a number of wooden niches placed on the wall and filled with a certain whimsy.
Behind the TV room is a cute bathroom and behind that again is a neat and ordered utility leading directly outside. The understairs space is cleverly incorporated into this room to give more storage space.
Overhead, there are four bedrooms, with master en suite and this room is soft, bright and finished in F&B’s ‘Pigeon’.
The same colour is used as a base in the boy’s room, with two roller-width stripes of ‘Stiff key Blue’ to give that designer touch.
All in all, 58 Bridgewater offers a great package and a blueprint for quality of life.
: A new home by the Lee, anyone?