No 9, Jamesmont, in Cork’s salubrious Rochestown, is exceptionally opulent and, quirkily, has an astro turf lawn, says Tommy Barker
Jamesmont, Rochestown, Cork - €725,000
Size: 269 sq m (2,900 sq ft)
THE owners of this fastidiously-kept, fabulously finished family home don’t let the grass grow under their feet...literally.
A busy family, with dogs who love digging and pawing, they occasionally also foster dogs for the Irish Guide Dogs: unsurprisingly, they eventually tired of fixing the grass after their determined dogs and so they put in a smart ‘lawn’ of Astroturf as a green garden centrepiece, framed by real shrubs, flowering cosmos, box-hedge shapes, laurel standards, some sculpture and trim, and well-rooted beech hedging.
The lawn, though, is a fake.
But it looks as good as the day it went down.
It is easily swept and tidied and maintained and dog-proof, and, it seems, the canines didn’t even take too much umbrage at having their old turf encroached upon.
As importantly, it definitely suits the crispness of the otherwise contemporary, soft-and-hard landscaping, which is as much a feature of No 9, Jamesmont as its high-end, understated interiors.
Now, though, the family with energy to spare are embracing a new home chapter, and are aiming to tackle a house renovation project, on grounds of about an acre and a half, where there’ll be loads of real grass, and a special patch where the dogs can dig away as deeply as they want, to their hearts’ and paws’ desire.
That’s all only a tiny bit of backdrop, but a curiously engaging one, nonetheless, to the joys and surprises at No 9, Jamesmont, a family home that’s spacious, stylish, and immaculate, inside and outside, on which time, thought, and more than a modicum of investment have been lavished.
The changes and upgrades start at the front door, which has been given an upwardly mobile ‘twist’.
The original door was taken out, and replaced with a very tall, domed porch/portico surround.
This holds a high-quality, new, panelled-and-painted hardwood door, with twelve, small glass panes, polished brass-door furniture, and a limestone threshold.
Overhead is a faux fanlight, whose four segments are in mirrored glass, with a pendant glass porch light in front: the result is transformative, effective, and elegant.
It sets a tone for what’s to come within, with understated, but assuredly high-quality, rooms off the oak-floored hall, and some reworked living rooms, and more than a surprise or two through the house and out into the back garden.
The owners have been here for 12 years, and are No 9’s second owners.
They bought this resale after a few previous house moves of their own, because they had family living in Jamesmont already, who strongly enthused about the development of big, tall detached houses there.
Jamesmont was developed on lands by Garryduff, in Rochestown/Monfieldstown, by Jim Butler, of Butler Construction, on his family-owned lands, which ran over much of this elevated Rochestown hill and back down towards Monastery Hill, to the east.
Entered by Belmont and Carmen Lawn, by Eyrecourt and Garryduff Sport Centre, near the now traffic-lit junction with the top of Clarke’s Hill, Jamesmont is comprised of 20 detached homes in a cul de sac, on a good-sized site, and pretty much all of the neighbours have landscaped extensively, so now there’s a lovely, leafy, arboreal feel.
This lends maturity and privacy to the homes, several of which, like No 9, have continued to evolve with extensions and alterations.
There’s only been a handful of resales here in the past decade-plus, and No 6 sold in 2015 for a reported €640,000.
In early 2016, three new, 2,500 sq ft builds, called Williams Court, were launched via DNG Creedon, priced from €600,000: the Price Register shows sales of No 1 at €528,000, and of No 3 at €572,000, in 2016.
Now, the fully realised No 9, Jamesmont is on the market for €720,000, via estate agent, Barry Smith, of James G Coughlan Associates: he rightly raves about its finishes and look and accommodation and comforts, and takes an almost parental pride in it.
He has already started viewings.
Warning: the standard of presentation is so high, it might well depress some coming to look, who’ll go back dejected to (possibly) lesser living conditions.
Barry Smith slags the owner about her meticulousness, but there is some evidence, and she says the last two weeks have been a whirlwind of tidying and touch-ups, since they decided, suddenly, to sell, move, and start again.
The woman of the house gives generous acknowledgement of the input of interior designer, Sara Murphy, in helping to source particular items and in assisting with the overall look in what was a very collaborative project.
Interior-wise, an individual tone is set in the hall, with a well-conceived, calm wallpaper, which has horizontal stripes.
It covers all walls, and a side panel under the stair, and it goes up the stairwell and up to, and around, the first-floor landing, giving a sense of continuity, and appears quite masterfully pasted and matched.
It weaves its banded way around architraves, switches, and a hall/console table, a handy piece of furniture that also serves as a radiator cover, with all-but concealed sockets and switches, as well.
Attention to finish “is almost off-the-scale,” says Barry Smith, vouching that the owners were “fastidious in making sure nothing has escaped receiving the utmost in attention to detail.”
They reworked some of the original ground-floor layout and rooms, adding a side sunroom, opening through to the kitchen/dining room, with a Velux overhead in a solid ceiling slope to allow light deep into the dining section.
Sliding ‘pocket’ doors with finger hooks, or latches, come out of the gable wall and shut off the extra additional space, when extra tranquility is needed.
There’s a bit of a dog-leg into the kitchen/dining area, which is home to a corner-set, wall-mounted telly, (with dog beds underneath).
Hence the need for quiet spaces, elsewhere in this family home, which has also accommodated three children, now all young adults, and their sports paraphernalia, musical instruments, and regular sleep-overs, the latter aided and abetted by the fact that the house has five bedrooms, over its two upper floors, with not a small or single bedroom among them.
First and foremost, the kitchen, which is, unsurprisingly, the heart of the home.
Its units are in black granite-topped cherry wood, but have been painted since first installed, and were sourced from Applewood Kitchens, which used to trade on Cork’s Parnell Place, in a warehouse building now set to become a boutique hotel.
In pride of place is a black, four-oven Aga, which has the back-up of integrated Neff ovens to one side, while facing is a Bosch American fridge and double ceramic sink, overlooking the pristine back garden, with raised veg and herb beds, and that never-growing Astroturf ‘lawn’, smooth as any putting green.
Competing for visual attention with what’s outside is whimsical,
but engaging, artwork hanging over the Aga, depicting young children’s clothes (tiny dresses and tights) on a notional clothes line, but with the four items seemingly starched to within an inch of their existence and seemingly made of beach sand, bought from the now-defunct Private Collector Gallery in Innishannon.
The entirely usable, family relaxing/eating/dining/reading space is 28’ by 27’.
Separately, the front reception rooms, at 24’ by 16’, are off-square or off-rectangle, with an added portion to the far end able to accommodate a baby grand piano.
Walls have the simplest of beading for a panel effect,while the entire wall by the back door, to the hall, has been fitted with a custom-made bank of shelving for books and artefact display, with concealed storage underneath, behind cupboard doors with cut/pressed steel insets.
The bespoke wall units were done by Unique Fitout, a company which more commonly does commercial and office work, and are topped by ceiling coving, while room lighting is ceiling-set down-lighters.
Most of the ground level’s flooring is quality oak board, done, in the first instance, by the house’s first owner, and, where rooms have been altered, the floor boards were matched for continuity sake, and the oak boards even have a cut-out by the hall door for an inset, ‘welcome’ coir door mat.
Up overhead, most bedrooms (and the stairs) are done underfoot with neutral shades of wool carpets, and the master bedroom has an en suite shower room, reached via walk-through robe, with mirrored doors either side.
This mid-level has a good-sized landing and feature, arched window with plantation shutter/blind, two other bedrooms (one is use as home office), plus family bathroom with Jacuzzi bath.
The top floor has two immaculate attic bedrooms, also carpeted, with sloping ceilings, some eaves-set display shelving, and dormer windows, a large landing, Stira access to an attic and a door to a large, walk-in hot-press/store room.
There’s also a newly refitted bathroom up here, with painted wood panels/wainscoting, wall-mounted fittings, large ceramic sink, and a double shower.
Decor, over all three floors, is uniform, while left-as-was-at-the-time-of-purchase are the perfectly good family bathroom and master bed’s en suite, with glossy, varnished floorboards: everything else has been given the once-over, if not a twice-over.
So, too, the gardens are more or less untouched in front, bar some extra landscaping and planting at the corners of the brick-paved drive, while the gates, knackily, have hinged mid-sections, so that they tuck away neatly back into the maturing, shrubbed borders.
It’s to the side, and to the back, that the most dramatic landscaping has taken place, and it’s highly effective and aesthetic, like a suite of distinct garden ‘rooms’ off a central, sit-out section with limestone paving.
It has differing purposes: most formal is the white, beach-stone pebbled long bed, with repeats of low-slung circular box hedge and taller, standard, lollipop-like bay tree, with a backdrop of boundary wall trim with hedging, and climbers.
The back is a replacement screen of serried beech trees, forming a new, double-hedge boundary with houses in Abbotswoood, and, elsewhere, there’s a powerful rotisserie BBQ unit, large enough to cook the proverbial fatted calf, with lots of al fresco dining seating, overlooked by some sculptures
There’s a secondary patio off the sun room, and raised bed made up of old rail sleepers in a far corner, past raised veg-and-herb beds with abundant peas in a block-built, lofted shed, which is almost garage size.
It’s used for storing bikes, sports gear, and a recently installed set-up for dog grooming, which is about to have a short-lived tenure as No 9’s occupants pack up, pets and all.
An eye-catcher is a side wall separating the front and back gardens, with side gate.
The wall itself has a very large mirror affixed to it, which acts as sort of trompe l’oeuil, seemingly extending and doubling the length of the white-graveled formal bay and box beds, while a thriving wisteria is making its way over the wall and now starting to drape down over the mirror, which means a visual doubling-up of each May’s increasingly abundant spring racemes.
The plant Wisteria symbolises ‘welcome,’ adds the woman of this most welcoming house and garden, helpfully, as she hopes to roll out the welcome mat, and real, seeded lawns, at the family’s next home and gardens project.
VERDICT: The ‘grass’ is indeed greener on No 9’s other side.
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