Showhouse style in woodland wonder

The interior of Monkstown Demesne has been turned around and given a new look, writes Tommy Barker.

A DRIVE through Monkstown Demesne is like a master-class in Irish and Cork detached house design over the past two decades.

Here, among the woods above the harbour village and sailing marina under construction, a golf course threads its way through century old native hardwoods. Interspersed among the saved and specimen trees are about three dozen detached houses, on the greenest of greenery sites.

There are some large detached homes from the 1980s, many more from the ‘90s, showing increasing affluence and architectural aplomb, and then those from the noughties are — effectively — a step up in affluence and assuredness, mixing large glazed sections, expanses of cedar sheeting, and slate, copper, zinc and French tile roofing.

It’s the sort of place where aspiring (and nosy) house-builders could profitably wander though, gathering designs, and guessing the year of design and build.

As it comes up for sale through the summer No 11 Monkstown Demesne will, perhaps, puzzle those who dig a little deeper. It looks about appropriate for its c 10 years of age from the outside, tall, solid, well-finished with lots of brick and detailing, unpretentious, and well-bedded down into its one-third of an acre site — it’s on one of the brighter of the sites here, with plenty of breathing space among the demesne-defining woods, with Monkstown Golf Course’s 7th tee box just out of sight behind it.

But, inside, No 11 is far more in tune decoratively with the look of the past five years, with its muted neutrals colours, open-plan kitchen/family space, and flooring that include porcelain tiling, American Walnut, and warm-underfoot wool carpets. And, that’s because they current owners re-did the entire interior when they bought here in the mid-2000s.

When they got their hands on No 11, they started by moving walls, opening up spaces, and re-doing floors, doors, architraves and skirtings, coving, bathrooms, kitchen — the lot, effectively.

It helped that he’s a project engineer, and that she’s done interior design. So, as they now prepare to buy a site in the area what they are putting up for sale is effectively in showhouse condition.

No 11 comes to market with Stephen Clarke of O’Donoghue & Clarke auctioneers, guiding €875,000. House investments/values in the demense had topped the €2 million mark for some of the more dramatic, and a few have hovered at the €1-2m level: Stephen Clarke’s latest sale here is among his smaller ones, getting over €350,00 for an extended and renovated detached lodge/cottage at the foot of the 17th century Monkstown Castle at the top entrance to the Demesne. The castle is undergoing a remarkable, painstaking slow renovation from dereliction, since 2007 (see www.monkstowncastle.com)

Ready to go is No 11, though, with a south-easterly aspect in the middle of the Demesne, on its own landscaped gardens, which include a wide sweep of patio behind, retaining stone walls and beds of acid-loving plants, plus side lawns to the left, play areas, and a detached double garage to the right, linked with a brick arch to the house’s gable.

Internally, of note is the double height entrance hall, with tall, arched window on the stairwell drawing in light. Then you begin to appreciate the extra-height ceilings (10’) which add to the feel of space: that; plus the main 18’ by 17’ sitting room, with rear patio doors and subtle side windows on either side of the Portuguese limestone fireplace and chimney breast, giving in effect three aspects to the room, opening to a rear patio/al fresco private dining space.

There’s a home study to the left of the hall, by a guest WC, and the main family space is the large kitchen, with painted units, granite tops and island. There’s a dining room off in one direction under a wide arch, and a family den to the front. Change the furniture and you change the function, and when children are older, rooms can be screened off for less open-plan uses.

Overhead, the master bed has a good en suite, separated from the sleeping section by a banks of Sliderobes/dressing room, and the room has twin sets of slender French doors to a timber balcony for harbour and woods views. Two of the other bedrooms, at the far end of the house, share an en suite in a practical ‘Jack’n’Jill’ layout.

There’s 2,400 sq ft of comfortable, pristine space here, though it feels larger — thanks to the ground floor’s extra ceiling height, perhaps, a case of giving a little bit extra in a build, and having it pay dividends ever-after.


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