American touch to home with water views

Tommy Barker discovers a logical flow to the layout of this carefully designed house.

THERE’S a strong feel of the much-copied, airy American “great room” about Woodhaven – and little wonder, as one of its owners is from Washington DC.

This cracking-sized, single-storey house up above Raffeen Creek at Strawhill, near Monkstown in Cork harbour picks up on the US style of high-ceilinged big family rooms. And, it delivers them in the colourful kitchen/dining/family room, with vaulted ceilings, and again on an even loftier scale in the more formal split-level living room with a dry-bar hidden in a closet to the side of the completely formal dining room. Oh, that dining room has done sit-down dinners for 16 guests, by the way.

It’s all done on a decent scale here, with over 2,750 sq ft of space to play around with. Yet, given that this is a single storey house, it doesn’t bulk up – in fact, with a physical kink or twist in its floor plan, it all beds down into its 0.8 acre site very discretely.

The Irish/American owners got the site in the early 2000s, when all around them was dormers, and they engaged local architect Paul Hyde of the Hyde Partnership to design this family home for them. With twin girls arriving since, as well as two sons, they’ve been busy growing into it since they finished five years ago.

They built it by direct labour, and know every detail of its construction and design, separating their purlins from their exposed beams with casual aplomb and description. And, outside, there’s good landscaping, more “spare” wild space and a great expanse of raised and railed south-facing deck for parties, BBQs and views.

Woodhaven has an entirely logical flow to the layout – and in quite typical US style, the occupants’ normal port of entry is via the double garage (21’ by 20’) space, decanting shopping and sundries in kitchen and utilities along the way in (there are big US washer/dryers en route by the utility).

The kitchen/family/dining space is probably the size of a small city apartment alone, and the stepped down living room beyond has high ceilings, about 22’ to the apex, with a feature Liscannor stone chimney breast tucked to the side, to leave the soaring gable wall of south-facing glass to open up the creek views and the skies.

Off beyond, the second half of the splayed house has a playroom and four bedrooms, with two en suites, plus main bathroom, all bathrooms are good (there’s a pressurised hot water system) and one has a steam shower cabinet. Because corridors have a bend in them, and there’s extra height with an overhead Velux, the house really avoids the long, canyon corridor run usually associated with large single storey dwellings.

Woodhaven is block-built, with high internal insulation levels, windows are high-performance black PVC Hele units, matching with the dark fascias and the extensive Liscannor stone-clad walls. Heating is oil fired and zoned, and there’s a biocycle unis as well, all adding to the general high level of specifications.

This great family home is a ten minute drive from Douglas village, close to Monkstown and major employment centres at Ringaskiddy/Carrigaline as well. It has fascinating greenery and wildfowl views down to the creek and boatyard at Raffeen. And, there’s Ringaskiddy off in the further distance and a nine-hole golf course also in the frame beneath this elevated site.

Selling agent for Woodhaven is Stephen Clarke of O’Donoghue Clarke, and he seeks offers about €695,000 for the ready to move into trading-up or relocating option.

Although this end of the market is generally sluggish and hit by bank funding drought, Mr Clarke gives examples of a few other sales locally at this sort of level. In the past few months he’s sold comparable properties in the greater Monkstown area in the €700/€800,000 price bracket, including one on Scotchman’s Road. He has sold the 1,300 sq ft Coach House by Monkstown Castle (which featured here in April) for close to €400,000. And, the asking price on Monkstown Demesne’s large 3,500 sq ft Winterwood is now down to €975,000, from an aspirational €2 million in 2006, and €1.25m earlier this year via O’Donoghue Clarke.

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