Tommy Barker steps into The Courtyard and comes away impressed by the quality at a stand-out home.
THERE’S been quite a deal of work done of late to this highly distinctive, circa 10-year-old house, The Courtyard, architect-designed and contemporary to its fingertips, all done since it last sold, which was only quite recently.
It includes some seriously expensive Kube Kitchen fit-out, with a raft of Gaggenau appliances which feature a vacuum pack sealing unit for food, ovens that spring to life at the touch of a fingerprint, and a pristine timber Danish kitchen island with inbuilt, unseen, wireless iPhone charger.
What’s different now is the replacement of the build’s original, mono-pitch synthetic membrane roof finish with lots, and lots, of standing seam zinc. It’s a far more costly finish, seen too around a clutch of redone first floor windows, including some with built-in seating, overhanging the internal courtyard. When first done, those overhang windows were gleaming wood-clad and preservative treated, now they – and the striking, first floor living room ‘box’ section have all been fully clad, tops, sides and bottoms, with seamed zinc too.
Dating to the latter half of the 2000s, The Courtyard has all been (re) done to the very highest standards, across its two and a half storeys, by its Irish/international owners, a young family based in Switzerland and who bought it after it last came for sale in 2016.
Then, it had carried a guide price of €675,000, and the Price Register Shows it had sold by mid-2017 for a reported €620,000, just over €200 psf. That was for an already very high-spec, one-off home of about 2,750 sq ft: it’s laid out in an upside down format, to suit the unique design and layout of an U-shaped building, ranging around an enclosed, wholly private paved courtyard, just off Cork’s Rochestown Road opposite Clarkes Hill.
Set opposite the foot of Rochestown’s Clarkes Hill on a site of about 0.12 of an acre, amid a half a dozen or so clustered detached houses of more traditional designs, it effectively encloses its paved courtyard on three sides, with a secure, high wall on the fourth side making for a design feature from which it got its name.
The Courtyard had gone once before to market, back in 2008, with lofty hopes of €1.6m, and it featured in design mags like Build Your Own House and Home, such were its design touches, visual attractions, finishes and ‘untraditional’ configuration, yet all very accommodating within.
It didn’t sell at that level and went into the upper echelons of the corporate rental sector for a period. After selling in 2016/17, its buyers embraced it with gusto, and spent very heavily afterwards, but the circumstances of their plans to relocate to Ireland have changed.
It’s been freshly done to a T, hasn’t been lived in since the work was completed, and there’s barely a smudge on its gleaming kitchen surfaces, ‘Spekva’ Danish timber island extension and its barista style Rocket coffee station which knocks the ‘Nespresso’ set back into the comparative realm of the instant coffee brigade.
Pristine inside and out, it’s now fresh to market with Trish Stokes of Lisney Cork, who guides at €790,000, a price which quite clearly doesn’t reflect the value of the additional most recent extra expenditure.
Finished now on top with a big, broad-rimmed ‘hat’ with overhangs of top-quality zinc, it has maintenance free external walls of Donegal quartz, done in a dry-stone style, with cut limestone trim around windows and doors, has iroko teak windows at ground and new, grey aluminium ones above in slots, along with two raised terraces, and both internal and external courtyard access.
It has upper deck living areas at its two opposite ends/wings, facing one another across the Indian sandstone paved courtyard and one has a newly-fitted Contura wood-burning stove, and in between is this great, double aspect kitchen/dining/seating central, elevated core, with all-steaming, all-delivering kitchen with Gaggenau ovens big enough to take the biggest of Christmas turkeys, in a bite.
The Kube delivered units, with Danish timber side wing in the open plan kitchen/dining room is extensively and professionally thought out and laid out. Modern in style, with a high gloss white finish, the kitchen benefits from Gaggenau appliances which include double oven, steamer, microwave and vacuum wrapper all arranged around an extra-large island unit which houses double sinks. This island forms just one of the features within the kitchen and boasts mood lighting built-in. A bespoke designed piece by Spekva from Denmark connects with the island to give a formal dining space with light fitting overhead. A further fitted wall of units houses a larder press, integrated fridge freezer and five- ringed gas stainless steel Barazza hob unit and counter with glass splashback.
On the opposite end of the kitchen high gloss doors open out and secretly slide back to reveal a work station and glasses store, next to Rocket-brand expresso coffee station, along with wine fridge and bottle alcove. Watching over are two, large ‘picture windows’ with squab seating, and the long, double aspect room has twin overhead roof windows to draw in extra natural light. Meanhile,a sliding door gives access to an adjoining living room, which has access to an outdoor terrace.
The upside-down layout (with a Ducon slab at mid-section plus underfloor heating) sees four bedrooms down at the lower/ground level, one en suite, plus main family bathroom all ranged off a long side corridor, bookended with matching internal spiral staircases at either extremity. Those spirals, with rich walnut timber treads, are done in an artistic style with wrought iron work and tracery, a feature here and externally also in the upper level terrace railings, done by Carrigaline-based craft worker Malcolm McCullagh.
Bearing hints both of Japanese design, and architectural features used by the likes of Le Corbusier, Cork’s Rochestown ‘The Courtyard’s essence is, indeed, its sense of security and enclosure.
Much of its glazing has been sandblasted, its principal access point to the courtyard has a new, portcullis-like gate, next to the solid timber front door and there’s an attached, lock-up garage, with off-street parking on a sheltered brick-paved short apron or drive.
Lisney’s Trish Stokes says the recent upgrades have future-proofed it, and she describes it as an attractive and impressive bespoke detached family home.
There’s an overall air of a penthouse here too, albeit one very much grounded on its surface level footprint, and given now the extra “wrapping” of zinc on roof and windows and boxes, and its low-maintenance limestone and quartz finishes, it could ideally suit new owners who have the options of use as a contemporary, full-time family home, or as a second home/Irish or city base, for the more internationally and upwardly mobile.
VERDICT: A stand-out home.
Rochestown Road, Cork
Size: 252 sq m (2,740 sq ft)
Bathrooms: 3 BER: B2
Some great ideas for you to use in your home and where to get them.
1. A stunning, pale timber extension to the Kube Kitchens’ gleaming white island serves both as diningtable, and food-prep spot. It’s by Danish company Spekva, in a silver grained timber (oak?) and comes with its own presentation kit of Danish Oil for care and cleaning (see www.spekva.com)
2. Drink from the bar? A kitchen alcove houses a wine fridge and bottle storage, while the worktop is set up for serious baristas, with an upmarket Rocket espresso coffee machine, bean grinder, tampers for compressing grinds, and more. Whole latte love, indeed.
3. You’ve been framed? A window seat set into the projecting box window means you’re sitting out into the view: in this case, it’s the enclosed courtyard below
4. The sleek, five-burner gas hob is inset into the stainless steel counter-top, and is all from Italian company Barazza, see www.barazzasrl.it
5. The Courtyard uppermost floor has a triple aspect, herringbone wood floor and a just-installed Contura wood burning stove.
6. The entrance to The Courtyard is sheltered by an overhang, screening the main front door, a garage with roller shutter door and this bespoke, portcullis-like screen to the internal courtyard beyond.