Space, style and a big slice of American pie

IT’S appropriate that the views down from 9 Ard Chuain include container ships serenely cruising below, on their way to or from Tivoli docks in Cork harbour — after all, lots of this house’s furniture, floors and fittings came to Cork by container ship.

Bought five years ago in shell condition by a US couple with small daughters, they were wooed and won-over by the views from this Passage West eyrie. Having built two homes previously in Florida, they were quite prepared to put their finished stamp on site No 9, and so to this end, they brought in two containers of their stuff, from closets and faucets (wardrobes and taps to us) to light fittings and more, plus enough Brazilian cherrywood to floor the vast majority of their new 3,400 sq ft family home, upstairs and downstairs.

Five years down the line, job done, dusted and buffed to a high degree, a return to Florida beckons for the occupants who’ve spread out and made the place an accommodating and comfortable home, and so No 9, in a niche of 17 individual homes built on serviced sites is up for sale, as a walk-in proposition.

It’s brand new to market with TJ Cronin of Irish and European, who says it’s decorated and finished to the highest standard, and will impress buyers from overseas coming to work in Cork, as well as locals. The harbour area, and its strong employment base, may well provide the buyer, he feels.

There’s a great open heart to this home: a living room, with double height space and gallery landing overhead, leading easily to a top-notch kitchen, which then pivots out to a dining room wing with glazing on three sides for even better views.

The lofty living room is 18’ by 15’, with virtually a wall of glass (and French doors) facing east and down to Marino Point, the harbour, shipping and over towards Fota and Cobh golf course.

On a calm day, you can even hear the monkeys being fed over the water, in Fota Wildlife Park. Keeping it all exotically tropical, or at least temperate for Floridians, three additional Velux windows on high mean the room is bright as well as airy, while an inset 12kw solid fuel stove provides enough heat for the house most days (even though there’s also zoned heating).

There’s an open span to the 25’ by 16’ kitchen/dining room, with painted units, acres of granite tops, especially over the raft of island which conceals a dishwasher, wine fridge and a small under-counter fridge for drinks, with a now-standard US-style double fridge/freezer off by the hob.

Handily, there’s both a utility room and a pantry off the kitchen too. Nothing sets off a home as much as a well-provisioned pantry, it’s the sort of thing that tells you that you can survive snow-drifts, floods, pestilence, power outages and sundry isolation. Pantries have the warm reassurance of insurance policies, as well as massive storage.

Further off the kitchen is a west-facing 17’ by 13’ family room, while off to the other side of the house past the wide hall are two bedrooms, or a bedroom and a home office, which share a ‘Jack and Jill’ en-suite between them.

Upstairs, No 9 has three very good en-suite bedrooms, and each bathroom is reached past a walk-in closet.

In fact, one of this big family home’s hidden strengths is the sheer amount of storage (a real American’s requisite), from the pantry, built-ins, walk-ins, eaves storage, and other spaces carved out of unused corners.

Bathrooms are well-finished with marble floors, and almost everywhere else is the Brazilian cherry wood, running seamlessly from room to room without door saddles for the most part, so there’s a nice flow visually as well.

Condition and finish is excellent, and outside materials include painted render, some untreated cedar about a windows bay surrounded by limestone cladding, the roof is slate, and the rear box dormers and the front porch roof are lead-finished.

The site is private, fully walled in, with a sweep of sandstone terrace to the rear/east with views, lots of outdoor seating and BBQ areas and there’s a lower lawn fringed in creamy stones, plus garden shed.

VERDICT: American ideas and trimmings in this big and bright home make it one for Thanskgiving.

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