Sharon Vale in Laburnum Park off Cork’s Model Farm Road is a traditional family home that remains well turned-out, says Tommy Barker.
Model Farm Road, Cork
Size: 225sq m (2,400 sq ft)
HAVING accommodated a family of 11, through raising a ‘novena’ of nine children plus parents, this detached Cork house Sharon Vale really has earned its spurs and the description of it as “a large family home.”
The 2,400 sq ft house, in Laburnum Park off the Model Farm Road, was built first for a tailor, whose surname was Cohen; d shortly after the house was built, the Mrs Cohen died and so the widower decided to built a smaller, replica of Sharon Vale, only this time on the Blackrock Road, near Menloe Stores: the houses look very similar, only varying in scale and internal size.
Subsequently, Sharon Vale was bought by the Bank of Ireland, as a manager’s house, and it accommodated several managers and their families, until the current owners, who moved to Cork in the early 1970s, eventually bought it outright from the bank. as their privately-owned residence.
Now years later and after years of retirement, it’s definitely downsizing time as there’s just too much space: “It needs another family,” says the woman of the house practically, welcoming the chance to have less house to occupy and to mind, and she already bought in the locality.
But, big and all as Sharon Vale is, with two attic level bedroom as a top-most bonus, it was never let slide or not be minded.
It’s immaculate, inside and outside, with several large rooms, beds and bedrooms galore and pristine grounds of one-third of an acre, more to the back than the front, on a wide and well-screened site.
Just a few years ago, Sharon Vale got some upgrades, and most notable was the way the entire outside of the house was wrapped in thick, external insulation, and freshly re-dashed.
So, now it gleams like a new pin, and appears well finished around windows and doors, with new sills, and there was plenty of soffit depth left to keep things all in proportion.
(You can readily enough tell when this job is done to an older house: they sound ‘hollow’ when you rap a fist on the rendered insulation, and they radiate heat back out in any sort of sunshine, they literally seem to give off warmth. And, clearly they do the same, in reverse, in terms of keeping in the heat within the house’s own ‘envelope.’)
The owner of Sharon Vale says “we should have done it years ago, it made a huge difference, I rarely have to turn on the heating, and it really holds in the heat, the heating bill is hundreds now, not thousands.”
As a result of the insulation, plus other changes such a new oil burner etc, this home now gets a validated B3 BER, excellent for a 65-plus year old building.
New to market this week, and guided at €795,000 by estate agents Sheila O’Flynn and Johnny O’Flynn of Sherry FitzGerald, this is going to box-tick for lots of aspirational trading up buyers who want room for a growing family, near schools and colleges and the city.
For others, its proximity to the CUH medical campus will also be a bonus, as it’s so near the rear entrance anyone working there can walk to and fro in minutes.
The immediate hinterland around Laburnum and Bishopstown Avenue has a good mix of house types, semis, bungalows and detacheds and it’s probable that Sharon Vale is already one of the largest, and certainly on a larger site than most.
The trading-down vendor opted not to try and carve out a site for a new home in the back garden, wanting to keep the original’s integrity, so that is to the benefit of its next occupants too as they get a proper, square garden package, with an attached garage, separate garden room/shed and side yard plus the main dwelling.
West-facing in front, it comes with three reception rooms, two of them an excellent size, good-sized kitchen too, and there’s a handy sort of outside utility room for freezers and other uses, and — quite likely, though the house doesn’t really need any more rooms — next owners might consider a bit of reordering out the back here to make for a more contemporary kitchen/dining/family room, which would get a dual aspect.
A nicely curving staircase leads to the next level, which is home to four bedrooms, all decent proportions, and the master has an en suite through hidden doors set in a wall of built-ins. Several other bedrooms have wash hand basins.
The main bathroom is separate to the adjacent WC, and a central further staircase leads to to the attic level rooms, both previously used as bedrooms.
Planning permission was granted many years ago for this top tier, with a shower room between them, with unusual ‘stone effect’ mottled grey sanitary ware.
This level has one Velux to the front, and a wide box dormer overlooking the back gardens from on high, with two windows, supplementing two further Velux windows on either side of the central dormer box.
Outside, there’s very well kept gardens fore and aft, plus there’s off-street parking for several cars, while the garage has doors front and back so it’s easy to access the back garden from the front, or take in/out garden furniture, sports equipment and other paraphenalia of busy family lives.
VERDICT: An ace western suburban location, easy access to amenities, schools and colleges, sports clubs, bus routes and more, plus it’s going to be very efficient to run.
Next owners might not want to do much more than change decor and update flooring, or may decide to push boat out and make grandiose alterations, which the site could easily accommodate.
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