Distinctive Kedges has family appeal

Built back in 1926, this distinctive home off the Douglas Road in Cork, has plenty to offer, Tommy Barker reports

Kedges has the stamp of an architect’s hand, making best use of a simple floor plan atboth its levels

THE great family home Kedges has been like one of those ‘ Cut and Come Again’ plants that keeps on giving — it’s about to yield up its fifth individual house in its original, suburban Cork gardens.

And, that’s probably highly appropriate as this Douglas Road spot was home for years to market gardens stretching from the main to the back Douglas roads in this setting, little over a mile from Cork city centre.

One of the more distinctive detached houses along the Douglas Road, by the entrance to Rosebank estate, this 1926-built home with some faux Tudor touches, originally stood on three acres of gardens.

In its 80-plus years it’s had a good few owners: it included familiar ‘Cork’ family surnames like Thompson, Downes, Crosbie and Cudmores — the latter when themselves trading-down built a bungalow just to the south. Other extended family members also got house sites, all accessed off Rosebank.

Now, coming up once more for the first time in 25 years, its current family of occupants are again trading down — and building, thanks to Kedges’ generous measures.

Retired medical consultant Liam Mundow snapped up this house when it came for sale back in 1987, and reared a family in it, now all grown and flown. So, he’s set to build a bungalow on a remaining portion of the gardens he tended for decades: “We grew 17 types of vegetable here, we fed the house from the garden,” he points out.

Even as he takes his rightful site the distinctive Kedges has becomes available again on a still-fine footprint, now down to half an acre — but even that’s a privilege to get your hands on in this location.

The house, about to burst into wisteria and virginia-creeper cloaking, is towards the back of its site, closer to the road, which means the bulk of the garden is on the warm, southern side, with a swathe of old limestone paving for a large sun terrace before raised beds (built in old, cobblestones).Then there’s a quarter acre of verdant lawn, ringed by hedges, shrubs and trees which took off skywards since the gardens last got divvied out.

Kedges comes along as a fascinating prospect, with agent Clare O’Sullivan of Savills, who guides it at €720,000 — a price which certainly should draw viewings — and not just from the curious.

While lots of it are gloriously old-fashioned, it’s still superbly comfortable and can take a family of any size — there’s scope for six, seven bedrooms, since the place was extended decades ago.

That extension holds three bedrooms plus shower room/bathroom, and downstairs what used to be called ‘the ballroom,’ now a very large lounge with double aspect, garden access, and easily enough space in a space in a corner to hide a baby grand piano.

Kedges has the stamp of an architect’s hand, making best use of a simple floor plan at both its levels, in a manner often overlooked by designers and builders: all of its best rooms are the back, facing south and full of sun and likely to be warm, while halls, corridors and service rooms/bathrooms are to the north-facing side. It’s a floor plan as clever and relevant today as it was 90 years ago when built, is an idea that dates back to the ancient Greeks, and seems to have got forgotten as often as it got rediscovered. It works, brilliantly. Still.

So that ballroom/lounge, the main drawing room, the dining room and the kitchen/breakfast room all get to have a favourable sunny aspect, as do all of the main bedrooms above.

The master bedroom is large, bright, draws in the sound of birdsong from the gardens and has a large dressing room with lots of storage, and, separately, a good-sized en suite.

There’s no fewer than five bathrooms/WCs in all in the house, and a bit of a small scene stealer is the art nouveau-style stained glass door to the ground floor’s guest WC, set against a backdrop of a fully wood-panelled entrance hall. That hall picks up the Tudor theme of some of Kedges part-timbered exterior, and while it’s full of character, gives an immediate appearance of being dark, something not borne out in the rest of this great home. (The hall floor is in very narrow strips of oak, while wider oak boards adorn other ground level rooms.)

While Kedges has been very well-maintained, and recent-enough spending includes replacement windows on the south side, underpinning and drains work, it hasn’t been overcooked. The original steel windows, to the north side have been kept, for example — it preserves the character to the roadway — and rooms on the other side are bathrooms and utilities, so wouldn’t be overheated in any case.

The kitchen is a sort of 1970s work, entirely functional, but in dark timbers that won’t find too much favour with 21st century buyers.

As Kedges comes up for sale now in the midst of a market downturn, it may well be to its advantage as a place of considerable architectural integrity. If sold 10 years ago it would have been gutted or knocked, razed for sites (that happened a near contemporary, a house called Overton a couple of doors away.)

Now, it still holds its head high, and most buyers are more inclined to take further spending on their acquisitions a bit more cautiously than heretofore.

You could go into Kedges with high ambitions to lash out money, and find it quickly grows on you, asking to be left damn well enough alone, and to get on to rearing another family as it comes up to its 100th birthday in around 15 years time.

VERDICT: It’s a good one: Time to finance the Kedge-fund.


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