Tommy Barker on a home that has undergone a dramatic transformation in a few short months.
Cloghroe, Co Cork €280,000
Sq m 164 (1,770 sq ft)
Best Feature: Affordable style
YOU might think this Cloghroe house called Applewood is the same exact one, only all smartened up, as the one on this site which sold less than a year ago when it was called Casa del Rosa.
In some ways you’d be right... only, it’s not the same house at all.
It’s not just a name change: it’s more of total renewal done within the original house’s early 1900s stone walls, potential all realised and site charms all unearthed.
It was done by a family who spotted its scope when they went to downsize, and who did everything and then some, with a layer of lifestyle on top.
They did it top to toe, inside, outside, landscaped, and enhanced.
And, then, family circumstance has changed, unexpectedly, and it’s time to care for an older generation, in another part of Cork.
As a result, Applewood with its lovely olde-worlde orchard and riverside setting is unexpectedly back up for sale.
Those who passed over it, or dismissed it, a year ago won’t believe how it’s turned out since.
It went to market Thursday last week, and by Saturday 40 people had come to an open viewing with estate agent Norma Healy of Sherry FitzGerald.
Most, if not all, were smitten, she says.
Some of its besotted responses might be down to the superb weather that graced its first week of open showings, when kids swung on the hammock (a family favourite garden item) slung between two of the old eater apple trees in the wildflower meadow-style lawn.
More were taken by the setting, by a stream called the Owenabue and old rail bridge at Cloghroe, next to the Shournagh river which runs through this Muskerry hinterland.
When buying, the current owners were diligent in checking any flood risks given the stream-side setting: it got a clean sheet from insurance companies after levels were surveyed, so, even though the Muskerry road floods occasionally nearby, this house has stayed dry above it all, it’s stressed.
The geo levels survey done gave peace of mind, no extra insurance costs were incurred once this was clear, and then for peace of mind and extra comfort, they raised the internal floors by 8”, with 4” of extra insulation, allowed as internal ceiling height were a good 10’.
Other jobs done included, well, everything: new double glazing, back wall tanked for rising damp, new plumbing, bathrooms, wiring/electrical and four-zone heating, insulation, and and all new internal finishes.
It’s effectively a new hand, in an old glove.
Almost all who were in the first phalanx of viewers Saturday fell for the quality of work and the stylish decor inside, and then, over and above all that; there’s the asking price that’s proving most attractive.
Applewood is guided at €280,000 by Sherry Fitz’s Ms Healy, and that’s within the reach of first time buyers, as well as traders down, and many more.
Plus, physically, it’s pretty enough within its grounds to attract a lifestyle relocater too.
The selling agents describe the setting as tranquil and the water might give that air, and for the owners it was a clincher as it conjured up images of their fishing-mad 11-year-old son doing a Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer, legs dangling from long orchard grasses over a stream, fishing pole in hand.
Yet, it is on the roadside at this Cloghroe setting, so there is passing traffic to disturb any dreams of utter tranquillity, but only of a volume that a happy-camper resident will quickly enough adjust to.
Others with far younger children might be concerned about the proximity of water as a possible hazard to smallies and, again, that’s an issue that new occupants will either adjust to, accept, or not bother at all about.
And, the fact is that if the road wasn’t quite so present, or the stream more of a tinkling brook, the price being sought, and what’s likely to be achieved, would be certainly far, far higher than the €280k quoted.
So, for the right demographic, roll up, line up, and prepare to do bidding in pursuit, because this is undoubtedly going to be a a lively affair before the dust settles.
That will be in contrast to its sale only last year, when it was dated, needed work, and as a probate sale (it had been a part-time B&B in its day) wasn’t showing at its best, and only had a couple of bidders.
One of the couple that bought last year, and renovated this year, has long experience working as a solicitor “and unlike a lot of solicitors who do conveyancing and mightn’t enjoy it, I loved it, and loved reading engineers’ reports and seeing where issues were and how they could be resolved,” she admits.
When the couple built their last, sizeable home near Killumney, 20 years ago, they did up the design themselves and, being into the thrill of building from scratch, supervised the build and had it finished in four to five months, via a direct labour “and we loved every minute of it”.
They had done a quite considerable revamp and home staging in preparation for selling their previous home on a landscaped Killumney acre last year when they went to downsize, and that effort paid off in spades when it sold very well, far over its AMV of €620,000. At the time, that home called Rockwood it made this four-page Cover Story slot, such was its appeal and attraction.
Another upside was that they reconnected with their love of design, and got to know a few people active in building and landscaping all over again, so they’d a contacts book for Casa Del Rosa/Applewood, little suspecting they’d be back selling in these pages, in a similar spread a year later.
One suspects they don’t hang around, though.
They bid and bought Casa del Rosa back around August 2015, the probate sale was protracted and it only closed out in December.
Renting in the interim in Ballincollig (and, with a Leaving Cert student to mind this year too), they brought in the builders to their new Cloghroe home project in February and had it turned around by April once more, via direct labour, using a mixed Polish and Irish crew who got on well, and took obvious pride in the project, working cohesively on all three levels for this end goal, bringing an old house from a rock-bottom G BER to a damn fine B3 along the way.
They opted not to extend, seeing as they were ostensibly downsizing and it had 1,700 sq ft, all on an acre and a half.
Plus, if they needed space for guests, there’s the adjacent 1,100 sq ft old lofted stone outbuilding, older than the current dwelling, which has conversion/integration scope all day long.
Applewood is now a five-bed, three-storey home, with its uppermost level now effectively a penthouse, says agent Norma Healy, as up top it’s home to an en suite master bedroom, with dressing room, study and TV/seating section too.
It’s all for sale now on half an acre, as the owners hope to keep a wooded, sloping acre for a dream build some other time in the future, but aren’t making any plans yet for it, as they hadn’t even planned to be selling this finished project any time in the forseeable future.
“We definitely did it for ourselves and, again, loved doing it,” says one of the owners who notes it rekindled her love of colour, interior design, and gardening.
She has kept a scrap book of Irish Examiner Property and Interiors home and garden images over a 25-year period, and is a magpie for design details from visits, from places as diverse as Kerry, Iceland, and Baltimore: her garden pergola is modelled on one seen in Glebe House gardens, Baltimore, she instances.
She got to relocate the much-used hammock they had at the previous home and reckons “the setting now, in the orchard, is even lovelier than in our last home.”
Applewood’s grounds have bounced back beautifully in no time, and yield up several seating out areas that will only improve further after recent extra planting.
Inside, all’s done and styled to the nth degree, with living spaces both at ground level and with a private seating/TV room on the second floor, a sort of separate adult with-drawing space seen, for example, with the Boulevard in Ballincollig Town Centre.
The ground floor layout right now sees a cosy living room, and then larger dining space and kitchen island as the real hearth, with a small Stanley integrated stove in a chimney-breast by the dining table, a touch the owners liked on visits to bars like the Bullman in Kinsale and Mary Ann’s in Castletownshend.
Other al fresco eating options are by the fired-up BBQ and pergola, with the kitchen opening via a glazed door to raised decking for morning coffees, weather permitting.
Much of the potential the owners saw here has already been realised, and as it’s so near Cork city, Blarney, and golf courses such as Muskerry, they saw future scope for retirement income from B&B or Airbnb as two of the five bedrooms are en suite, with walk-in robes, and the extra acre woodland site might in time yield planning (and pine trees for a chalet-build’s lumber) for an adult offspring.
“We briefly thought about knocking the coach house and putting a large extension to the side, looking down the garden, but decided to leave it for the moment,” says the woman of the house.
Set in a profile junction between two Muskerry roads, Applewood has, says auctioneer Norma Healy, all the advantages of a pleasant countryside setting, but is just ten minutes from the city’s suburbs, Ballincollig, Blarney, and third-level colleges.
It’s got a real appeal to the romantic at heart, Ms Healy adds, including in that romantic sweep young couples, older couples, and growing families , with local amenities ranging from fishing, golf, and horseriding.
Right now, rooms include a hall with hot-press under the stairs, a compact double aspect living room, a triple aspect kitchen/dining room with warming hearth, utility and guest WC.
Upstairs all four first floor bedrooms are doubles: the two to the front have stream views, the two behind have country views and southerly aspect, and the top floor is, well, the aforementioned luxe penthouse level.
VERDICT: Golden Delicious: soon to be the apple of some other lucky occupants’ eye.
It’s not just a name change; it’s more of total renewal