Belfast Telegraph

Look inside: 19th century Co Down school house transformed into stylish family home

This former 19th century school house has been lovingly transformed into a home of style and substance. Stephanie Bell reports...

Originally built in the 1800s as a school by the Forde family of Seaforde and then given to the church in the 1940s to be used as a church hall, this beautiful building is steeped in local history.

The current owners began what was to become a labour of love as they skilfully converted the property into a home around 10 years ago.

Parts of it were virtually rebuilt and, where possible, traditional materials were sourced or reused, such as lime plaster, local granite, original stone flooring, timber, Bangor blue slates and sheep's wool.

Much thought went into retaining as much of the original character and charm of the building as possible while creating a well proportioned home where the rooms flow beautifully.

Although it is a period property it enjoys the comforts of the 21st century with high levels of insulation, a modern kitchen and contemporary sanitary ware.

It sits in a beautiful and unspoilt part of Co Down, close to several towns including Ballynahinch, Castlewellan, Downpatrick and Newcastle.

It is a place where the great outdoors beckons with superb golf courses, horse riding and mountaineering nearby.

The house sits in extensive mature gardens with a stream running through it, fruit trees and lawns. There is a large wooden shed/workshop and even an electric car charge point.

Inside really impresses with its charming layout which includes a gallery overlooking the lounge.

An entrance porch with original stone floor has a cloakroom off it and leads into the spectacular open plan lounge/dining room with its minstrel gallery landing and vaulted double height ceiling.

This lovely space has a superb raised mahogany fireplace with reclaimed brick inset which is home to a large wood burning stove with log storage.

French doors open to a side patio in original stone and rich walnut flooring runs through this room into a hallway which leads to a second living room, creating a lovely flow through the house.

This second lounge also has a wood burning stove with stone hearth and is wired for a wall mounted TV.

The kitchen/dining room is modern and bright with painted wood units topped with woodblock effect worktops.

There is a Smeg four ring hob with stainless steel extractor above, an integrated Gaggenau deep fat fryer and double oven, plus plumbing for a dishwasher and an American style fridge/freezer. Amtico oak effect flooring is a superb finish in here.

Also on the ground floor are a utility with a range of units and a bright bedroom with walnut floor and walk-in storage area with shelving and hanging space.

The family bathroom it ultra modern, with a panelled Airbath complete with jets and a fully tiled wet room style shower area with chrome fixed head and hand showers.

Modern feature tiling, a heated towel rail and illuminated mirror combine to create a space that is decadent and up to the minute.

Upstairs the L-shaped gallery landing has been put to great use as a study or reading room with built in seating and shelves and a recess for a small wood burning stove.

There are two bedrooms on the first floor both finished with oak flooring and sharing a Jack and Jill en suite bathroom. Bedroom one has an extensive range of built-in furniture and a fireplace opening with stone hearth.

The en suite is also modern with a hip bath with electric shower and separate hand shower, vanity unit and Villeroy & Boch close coupled toilet.

Outside in the extensive grounds is an old stone building which is currently derelict but with lots of potential.

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