Idyllic house by the bay holds plenty of sway

At Bayview House Tommy Barker finds a harbour hillside property that brightly lives up to promise of the site’s prospect — exceptional.

GIVE an architect well-known for really high quality homes over a 20-year career to-date (and who also is clearly a perfectionist) a site with a stunning southerly harbour setting and the chances are the outcome will be special.

So, no surprises at Bayview House — it is as good as you could possibly hope for.

And, now, the finished to the n-th degree family home of architect Patrick O’Hanlon (the second he and his wife Elizabeth have done together) is up for sale via agent Catherine McAuliffe of Savills, who guides the outstanding one-off at a market-savvy €920,000, as the owners decide to see what they and their family of five will tackle and build for a third time around.

By the time the couple found this exceptional water-fronting site at French’s Walk, near Cuskinny on Great Island in Cork harbour, the cogs were already whirring as to how best to maximise it. This hillside has been home to some of Cork’s best period homes; now, the muted modern classic Bayview House joins a pretty exclusive set on this grand-stand harbour row.

O’Hanlon is one of the principal architects in Hogan Associates in Cork, who’ve done the likes of Lindville, the Paddocks, Mount Oval, Elden, Court Cairn, and Hayfield, totalling many thousands of individual and development homes, highly rated in their own rights. The bar was high when it came to building his own growing family, and his years of sympathetic domestic design experience show clearly here.

While he threw abundant design ability at Bayview House, it is a home that doesn’t visibly carry all of the bells and whistles of the architectural era in which it was designed and built. The look is relatively timeless, with some modern twists and tweaks and a decided marine flair. Yet, there’s nothing that isn’t there for a reason, or that won’t stand the test of time. As a bonus, the sympathetic landscaping, blending with sentinel century old beech trees down its approach avenue is already fully bedded down, and is as pristine as the house itself: the owner is also clearly a gardener.

This five/six bedroomed 3,150 sq ft family home is on a mature greened-in, cliff-like 0.8 acre site starting about 80’ above sea level. One third of the site is steeply sloping, slaloming down to a just-accessible shingle beach just east of Cobh town.

Bayview House was built in the mid 2000s, in the former wooded grounds of a period neighbour, and is one of two built around the same time in this exceptionally private site, to two complementary O’Hanlon/Hogan Associates designs. In fact, while the site is private in almost all aspects, it does stand exposed on one side: shipping coming in and out of Cork harbour performs a sharp turn right in front of Bayview House to navigate its way around the Spit Bank in the middle of Cork harbour.

The same accomplished builder, Alan Bardsley who does energy-efficient buildings, was behind construction of each of the neighbouring duo, and in the case of Bayview House, it sits on 27 piles, drilled down between 3 to 7 metres, into bedrock. Next, foundations are massive, and then the house was built block on flat, with internal double insulation, and windows by Hele: when the BER rating comes in, the results will be impressive. The family shut off the central heating last winter, and despite the gruelling deep-freeze Christmas period, two wood-burning stoves, allied to daily solar gain from all the glazing, kept the entire home cosy. There’s a heat recovery system to save every precious calorie of heat internally.

Bayview has an almost modest-appearing floor plan, and manages to ratchet up the accommodation stakes by extending up into the roof space, where there are two great guest/teenage bedrooms with Velux window views.

But, the very best viewing spot of all must be the private balcony off the en suite master bedroom, it faces directly south, with a westerly second aspect element as well, with glass and stainless steel balusters and decking, supported on job-for-life galvanised steel, decked over. Supports for the balcony are both practical, and design features, with sloping steel supports angling back towards the wall, and clad in some thick cedar boards for a marine/yacht club vibe.

While there’s some limited cedar cladding and some timber decking giving a warm underfoot feel to the main entry port, the rear of the house is decked in composite boards around a large, eight-person outdoor hot tub. These boards need no maintenance, just an annual power wash. The rest of the exterior patio finishes are dominated by granite slabs, with a paved courtyard at the end of a long, private approach avenue, long tree-shielded drive from electric gates, culminating in a detached double garage and a first real Wow! glimpse of the harbour views.

Internally, the look everywhere is high-end, but unobtrusive, with the boldest look kept to individual bedrooms and set off by some assertive wallpapers and matching fabrics.

The ground floor layout is very ‘Hogan Associates’ with several subtle changes of level, down a couple of steps from the solid timber double hall doors to the main entry hall and stairwell. Off this are a home office/study at the western end, there’s a big family room with a wall of glass, patio access and a Jotul wood-burning stove, and off to the far end of the house (the hall has a slight kink to break the linear run of space) run of space is a super-large kitchen/dining/living room, with super-efficient Stovax stove by the sofa spot.

All activity takes place around the dining table, and this room has three sets of air-tight Hele double doors, all openable to the awning-shaded terrace. The kitchen is hushed luxury, with bespoke tall walnut and high-gloss units from House of Coolmore, topped with durable Velstone worktops and sink drainers: a really smart idea is facing the back of the dividing counter by the dining table with high-capacity cupboards and eight drawers, for cutlery, crockery, glassware and more delph.

The cooking/kitchen area is two steps higher than the dining/living space, but still has views out through the depth of the room via the bank of double doors, thanks to the decision to make them extra high, at 8’.

Floor finishes are porcelain tile, walnut and rich wool carpets, on top of concrete bases at ground and first floor (Ducon slab) level, with effective underfloor heating, extensively zoned. Plumbing has been set up for solar panels, and with the house’s aspect, lashing of free hot water could be guaranteed for the five bathrooms three en suites.

Five of the six bedrooms are to the front of the house, and one room in particular has deliberately eschewed the temptation for a wall of glass, instead having two different shaped small windows, one tall and narrow, the other shallow and wide, in a juxtaposition that makes it look like a hand-gun; not surprisingly, this is a son’s prized room.

Every single room is different in feel and decor, but all bound together by the level of taste, quality modern furniture and overall finish and attention to detail. It’s all done and kept to showhouse standard, although with the clear stamp of a family’s own distinct personality... through the prism of a perfectionist designer.

This shines through in the display of family photographs and artworks: even the signed playschool handprints of the five ‘smallies’ are artfully displayed, while other art works adorn the walls, by the likes of Aisling Smith, Roger O’Reilly and others.

Patrick says one slight regret is not doing a wall of folding glass doors in the main living space, but no Irish supplier would stand over the air-tightness of this form of glazing given the site’s very open aspect.

Bayview House brightly lives up to the promise of its site’s prospect and a place to really enjoy fine weather is the terrace, with a large screening awning over the suite of double doors. A gauge decides when to roll out the deep awning via an electric motor, and a tiny wind vane senses when to pull it back: clever, like the house itself.


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