Timbers inside and out

AUCTIONEER Stephen Clarke is bidding fair to be ‘Demesne Man,’ aka the main man, in house sales in Monkstown’s wooded demesne.

As he brings this bespoke big detached one-off home to a summer market, Mr Clarke already has a nearby courtyard cottage renovation (it featured here last month) under early offer in the shadow of restored Monkstown Castle near the €400,000 mark. And, Clarke has also just bagged the last completed sale in this Cork harbour demesne location of about three dozen individual houses, successfully selling a c 2,000 sq ft home for a sub €1 million sum in this fairly niche, up-market setting.

Bigger, and dearer again, is the €1.25m AMV now pinned to another Monkstown Demesne house, Winterwood.

Winterwoood, with a strong and appropriate maritime theme, weighs in at 3,500 sq ft, and last went up for sale in late 2006 with a €2m asking price, as the sun began to set over the property market’s yard-arm.

It didn’t sell, was off the market since, and now is being put back up again with a change of agent, via O’Donoghue Clarke.

According to Stephen Clarke, it is going to have a renewed appeal at this price level and he says it is as exceptionally finished as it is individual.

It is a sort of calling card to craftmanship of the highest order, and is done in praise and admiration of craft skills and natural materials, most notably timber.

Kitted out with architectural salvage and a host of unusual timbers (some caulked), it has a stairs in elm and Australian red gum. There’s also fine Irish oak, beech and maple – all nicely at home indoors, while the still-standing Irish counterpart trees outside dot the 45 acre demesne in their natural leafy state, just beyond the windows and balconies. There’s roof slate from Spain, floor slate from Wales, granite from Zimbabwe, Dutch slob bricks, and Ballydesmond stone.

Its owners are big into boats and the seas, and drafted in Bandon architect Pat Cullinane to realise this dream design which took 14 months to build and six months more to finish out. The stairs, for example, was painstakingly done over three months on site, a shipwright did some of the built-ins, and ornate Celtic carvings feature in a few settings as well.

Minimalism and achingly cool interiors were in full swing back in 2006 when this house was last new to market; now that the days of creamy neutrals have been put to rest and cosy comfort is back in vogue with full-blown recessionary winds blowing around us, Winterwood’s decor is back more in keeping with the spirt of the times.

It is a good place to hunker down in, supremely well built, doubly insulated, on extra generous foundations and with stout timbers in external evidence, set against dry stone walls.

Inside, the layout is primarily open-plan, with a central kitchen/family space framed in warm-hued brick, plus dining and living sections and a sun-room off to another side. Steps help delineate core spaces and functions, but it is all fairly adaptable.

There are four bedrooms, three at first-floor level with en suites, and the main family bathroom has a Jacuzzi bath. In addition, there’s a high ceilinged living room with feature rising stone chimney breast and overlooking balcony, a lower ground level bar, entertainment room and even the main stairwell qualifies for space description, given its design attributes, curves, carving and rope rigging.

Winterwood has glimpses of harbour views through the century-plus old trees (many are floodlit) beyond its 0.6 acre site and there’s beech hedging for privacy, plus video camera-controlled site access.

There’s a raised balcony off the master bedroom, and several ground level decking sections, and well-clothed woods as far as the eye can see.

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