One of the most difficult things, when viewing houses, is separating the lives of the previous owners from your own.
It’s next to impossible to mentally remove their baroque dining furniture or modernist bedroom suite from the visual equation, and imagine your own in situ instead.
You won't have that problem at Burren House, the beautifully restored Georgian country house which businessman Mike Newman and his jewellery designer wife, Jane, are selling on the glorious west Cork coastline, just 20 minutes from Kinsale.
With family around the world, the Newmans are moving for a complete change of pace and style, and consequently the house, which they lavishly and lovingly restored, almost from scratch, is on the market complete with (nearly) all of its contents.
As these include antique furniture, carefully selected to suit the elegant, yet relaxed, style of the house, it’s a complete treat.
The couple bought the house in 2003, and moved in two years later, once restorations were complete.
Committed to the idea of the house’s history, which they extensively researched, they made a point of employing local craftspeople on the project, and have nothing but praise for the team who brought Burren House back to its former glory.
Working with architect John Morehead of Wain Morehead, and builder Pat O'Sullivan from Clonakilty, they set about replacing the uPVC windows with original sashes, sourcing Georgian fireplaces and, together with Capital Mouldings from Douglas in Cork, reinstating the ceiling roses and cornices.
Floors, including a richly glowing parquet in the diningroom, were relaid, doors stripped and rehung.
The dark zig-zag stairs were replaced with a dramatic double-sided staircase that rises up in the hall, with a half landing revealing the lovely arched window on the return.
Everything has been kept to exceptional standards, and there are brilliant touches everywhere, including Eric Pearse cabinets, and ceiling paintings by Joanne Salley.
In the hallway there’s an elevating scene of blue skies and scudding clouds, but turn left into the dining room, and you’re greeted by a tropical paradise.
Jane had bought a rather brilliant parrot sculpture, and engaged Salley and the Joseph Walsh workshop to help give it somewhere fitting to live.
There are lush tropical rain forest-print curtains, and painted vines “growing” across the ceiling to terminate in oversized wooden leaves.
Elsewhere the décor is more muted and of the period, and the kitchen is Aga-inspired country-style, but everything has been done with flair.
Each of the four double bedrooms in the house has its own colour theme. The main bedroom is huge, with wonderful views, and has an en suite and a dressing room.
Two more are also en suite, while the final bedroom has the best view – you can see across to Old Head, perhaps imagining a round of golf, without getting up from your pillows.
The couple also re-landscaped the 20 acre grounds, which include a small lake, and long water fountain, inspired by Moroccan gardens.
There’s an orchard, woodland and vegetable garden, as well as paddocks that would be perfect for ponies.
"We moved the front door around to the back," explains Mike, as we stand on the granite steps that sweep down to a fountain, rolling lawns and the gorgeous, gorgeous expanse of Courtmacsherry Bay.
This means the drive now leads to the coach yard and it has been a brilliant move.
You can still spill out on to the terraces on warm summer nights, but the view is of gardens and sea, rather than gravel and cars.
The coach yard itself is intriguing, as it contains numerous outhouses and a studio.
These provide a further set of bedrooms: there is a two-bedroom staff flat, and two more converted stone-cut buildings, provide three more bedrooms.
Fabulous sea views
One has French windows on to the terrace, with those fabulous sea views. These commanding views originate from the site’s original function – as a watch tower for the McCarthy domain.
The current house dates to 1790. Add to this a separate four-bedroom bungalow included in the sale, and you’ve got an opportunity for perfect privacy as a private home, or flexible options for a West Cork business.
The main house is about 315sq m (3,400sq ft), with the same again for the bungalow; plus the converted coach houses.
The house lends itself to company and the Newmans have hosted garden operas for charity during their time here.
On the market at €4.2 million, Burren House is for sale with Sherry FitzGerald (local enquiries are being handled by Ray O’Neill of Sherry FitzGerald O’Neill in Clonakilty), with Christie’s International.
This makes sense, as Roseanne De Vere Hunt, head of country homes at Sherry FitzGerald, says, because “the proximity, at just 35 minutes to Cork Airport, is sure to entice international interest.
“Within 25 minutes you’re also at one of the world’s famous golf clubs – The Old Head.”
In fact, Burren House is just one of five houses along this coast to enjoy spectacular views of Old Head, 12km away.