Tommy Barker reports on a family home on the outskirts of Cork city which has utilised the well-specified space on all its three levels.
Rochestown, Cork, €710,000
Size: 3,290 sq ft inc attic
Bedrooms: 5 + attic
Best Feature: Top spec
TALL, spacious, and set on a lofty height, the American-style No 13 Abbotswood Downs is a high-end family home in Cork’s Rochestown, done up to a tee, and up for sale for the first time in a decade, in the best shape it has ever been after on-going upgrades.
Abbotswood was an early 2000s scheme taken on by Fleming Construction above the Monastery Road in affluent Rochestown territory, up on a hill past the old Rochestown Inn and the staging-post of the Cinnamon Cottage, a gourmet spot selling prepared meals that has fed and watered the denizens of south Cork for many years, stocking the freezers too for times of ‘emergency’ fine dining.
It’s a suitable epicurean marker for the level at which No 13 comes to market, all-brick and render reveals externally and an absolute walk-in job inside, over its luxe Laura Ashley carpets and hardwood floors, in one of the very best sites in all of the Downs.
Thanks to its position on the bend near the top, by a green, it gets long downhill views down to Cork harbour to the north east from all of its front rooms, while the rear aspect is a perfect south west, and with as-long views over the back boundary towards wooded glens and rolling hills.
Add to this mix a large site of c one-third of an acre, and you can see why its current owners jumped for it a decade ago, when it got offered for sale as a five-year old family home.
That was back in the day when the very best Abbotswood Downs homes here were broaching the €1million mark in asking and sale prices, as were the better Clarkes Wood homes in Mount Oval Village among other higher echelon developments.
Prices since dipped, in line with the market, but subsequent resales were rare enough (and there were several sizes built to begin with, making price comparisons not straightforward.)
The Price Register shows the most recent comparable sale being of No 18 Abbotswood Downs, in late 2016, and it’s recorded at €668,000.
Back in 2015, No 1 transacted at a reported €575,000. Now, No 13’s on offer, priced at €710,000 by Florence Gabriel and Sheila O’Flynn, of Sherry FitzGerald, who say it’s in showhouse condition.
In fact, it’s better than any showhouse, it’s a real, comfortable, lived-in, tended, finely-finished and well-specced family home that’s been colonised by a couple with five children, on all three of its levels.
The children, their friends, parents and visiting in-laws (the owners are from Co Clare and Galway) have utilised ever room in this three-storey build, effectively 3,300 sq ft thanks to a very comfortable large attic level (c 950 sq ft) with three rooms, shower room, and expansive play and reading area on the bright, central top landing.
Below are five bedrooms off a high-ceilinged mid-level landing, with two en suites, one in a sort of Jack and Jill arrangement with the smaller of the five bedrooms, an ideal layout perhaps for use as a nursery, and subsequent dressing rooms one when ‘junior’ moves on to a larger rooms, or goes up a level to attic room freedoms.
After buying No 13, its appreciative owners spent further on upgrades, redoing flooring, joinery and finishes.
They did out the attic level too, which across its several rooms has masses of shelving for toys, storage and more, and bathrooms too were enhanced on all three levels.
There’s an indulgent cast-iron roll-top, free-standing slipper bath in the main family bathroom that was bought as luxury ‘splash-out’ item during the house’s re-fit.
It was, indeed costly bought ‘at the height’... you’d have bought a small boat probably for the sum expended.
Walls in this relaxing washroom are finished with painted timber wainscoting for a suitably timeless ‘period home’ look, and elsewhere sanitary ware is of a suitably uniform high quality.
Further joinery enhancements came in areas like the stairs’ end, now with its handrail graced by a ‘monkey’s tail’ hardwood spiral to set a tone of quality craftsmanship.
Decor-wise, it’s a mix of classic and modern, with Mindy Browne lighting and several chandeliers comfortably at home thanks to 2.8m, extra-high ceilings.
Laura Ashley wallpapers, and fabrics are much in evidence especially in the well-dressed windows, as are cleverly placed feature mirrors to pick out, highlight and reflect back internal features.
Best example are the two very large mirror panels, framed in white-painted architraves, either side of the main triple-aspect living room’s central marble fireplace with gas insert fire.
This is a great room in anyone’s book, hardwood-floored with one window overlooking the front gardens and distant water views; behind is a patio door to a large open al fresco dining/seating space, and on the side wall are two more windows, one with a generous bay window seat, all plumped up with many cushions for hunkering down with a book, games or magazine.
The room’s in constant use by all the family, and still manages to swallow several very large antique furniture items, a piano, a formal dining table and seating, several sofas, a few sideboards, display tables... and still have room left over for games of chase and trike rides — as if private, secure gardens of one-third of an acre weren’t enough fun to be going on with.
Separately, there’s a study (phew: relaxation under the guise of work!) and a double aspect family room, with dark, varnished pine floor, open cast iron fireplace, bookshelves and music stand for instrument practice.
Behind is a wide kitchen, with Farrow and Ball painted dresser and white units with black granite tops, against a black tiled splashback, all with top-end appliances.
There’s a casual dining option off here, in the rear sun room add-on (with tiled roof, and French doors to a brick-paved patio), and the floors in both the kitchen and sun room have been redone, with light porcelain tiles, plus alongside is a slender utility and there’s a guest WC off the hall, with dado and wood panelling.
Externally, the gardens are well planted in front, mature, and its all very private behind by the sunny-aspected patio, with lawn stretching back into a long wedge at the far boundary, and the house’s all-brick finish with wood-effect pvc double glazing (it was modelled on New England house designs) means minimal maintenance, just a mellowing over time.
“What I love about the house is the quality, the sheer sense of space, and the fact it’s all used,” enthuses Sherry Fitz selling agents Sheila O’Flynn and Florence Gabriel, who’ll have the second day of open viewings at No 13 today, lunch time at 1pm.
VERDICT: Top of the class, full marks.
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