Life Home & Garden

Monday 19 August 2019

Wilde about wallpaper

Cleveland is the colourful antidote to the pewter and mushroom trend

The lounge with effervescent pink floral wallpaper
The lounge with effervescent pink floral wallpaper
The open-plan living and dining room with French doors to the patio
The kitchen with wallpapered walls and ceiling
A stained glass window on the half-landing
The exterior of Cleveland, which stands on 0.32 of an acre and has a south-facing garden
The hallway with stairs leading to the first floor
The master bedroom with green floral-patterned paper on the walls and ceilings
The modern fireplace in the open-plan living and dining room

Eithne Tynan

It is often said that Oscar Wilde's last words were, "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has got to go".

It's an irresistible quote, although there is some dispute as to whether or not these were actually Wilde's very last words. What is not in dispute, however, is Wilde's attitude to wallpaper in general, about which he was so particular that not even the work of the great wallpaper master, William Morris himself, could please him.

"I have seen far more rooms spoiled by wallpapers than anything else," Wilde once wrote (having clearly never seen beauty board). "When everything is covered with a design the room is restless and the eye disturbed."

If you want chapter and verse on the history of wallpaper (and who doesn't?), look no further than the Victoria & Albert Museum in London - the repository of all knowledge on the subject.

The history of wallpaper as recorded there suggests it has always been a bit Marmite. Wilde was by no means alone in disapproving of it but all the same it has withstood generations of changing tastes and survived a centuries-long duel to the death with fashion. In recent years it has been making a comeback, and the bolder the better.

Among its most ardent fans are the owners of Cleveland, at Blackrock Road in Cork city. In this house, wallpaper has been applied not only to the walls but also to the ceilings in some of the rooms, creating a really distinctive look. Whatever your feelings about wallpaper, if you're bored to tears by the ubiquitous palette of 'fashionable' pewter and mushroom, you'll find in Cleveland the perfect antidote. Greige it ain't.

The house was built in 1920 and is described by the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage as "an interesting house" with early 20th-century architectural elements. It has double bay windows either side of a recessed porch and its period features inside include high ceilings with coving, original wood floors, marble fireplaces, and some stained glass - all well maintained.

It's detached and stands at 2,175 sq ft with four bedrooms. These are all on the first floor, reached by means of the original open-string staircase lit by a stained-glass window on the half-landing.

The master bedroom measures roughly 16ft by 12ft and has painted floorboards and a bay window, with green floral-patterned paper on the walls and ceilings. Also on the first floor there's a bathroom with separate toilet, and the bathroom has a blue sink and bidet.

That leaves the whole ground floor for living rooms, of which there are four, not counting the kitchen where there's a tiled floor and papered walls and ceiling again.

An archway in the kitchen leads through to an open-plan living and dining room measuring about 20ft by 13ft, occupying a single-storey wing to the east of the main house. It has a parquet floor and a modern fireplace, and there are French doors here leading to the patio outside.

For more formal meals there's a proper dining room as well, measuring some 13ft by 12ft. It's a dual-aspect room with a bay window and a marble fireplace and a relatively restrained peach paper on the walls.

The other main reception room is the lounge, roughly the same size as the dining room and also with a bay window and marble fireplace, and with effervescent pink floral wallpaper (though again just on the walls, not the ceiling).

Finally there's a cute study about 10ft by 8ft, also dual-aspect and painted in restrained white, with a wooden floor and a gas-fitted fireplace in brick. There's also a guest shower room on the ground floor as well as a cloakroom and utility, to keep that wallpapered kitchen relatively free of steam.

Cleveland is on a site of 0.32 of an acre with a long south-facing garden in lawns with mature trees, hedging and shrub borders, interspersed with gravel paths. There are three storage sheds on the grounds as well, for stocking up your supplies of wallpaper paste.

The townland is Ballintemple, and the city centre is about three kilometres away. About 60 metres from the gate is a bus stop for the Number 202, which plies the route between the Apple campus at Hollyhill and Mahon Point shopping centre, via the city.

Ballintemple National School is around the corner on Crab Lane, and for second level, Ashton Comprehensive is about 10 minutes' walk along Blackrock Road towards the city.

For a constitutional ramble you can make your way down to The Marina in about 15 minutes or so, passing by Páirc Uí Chaoimh GAA pitch.

The agent for the sale of Cleveland is Cohalan Downing in Cork, (021) 427 7717, and the asking price is €1.1m.


Blackrock Road, Cork city

Asking price: €1.1m

Agent: Cohalan Downing, Cork, (021) 427 7717

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