A master class in how to do it properly

BEING smart beats big bucks every time – especially when it comes to building.

Too often the emphasis is on the look at the expense of the functionality of a dwelling, but in the case of this modern dwelling at Killeens, Co Cork, there’s a blessed conjunction of the two.

A simple, dormer design, (and one of four houses in a five acre enclave), No 4 Rock Island, Killeens, Co Cork, belies the complexity of its interior layout, which, like all clever design, looks simple but isn’t.

Go beyond the dove grey and soft white palette, the clean layout and bright light, and you have a master class in how to do things properly. Affordably, also.

Yes, this is a house that despite its sophistication uses inexpensive materials in an expensive way.

And that’s thanks to its owner, interior architect, Chad Evans, who designed and managed the build from start to finish.

While the house was built in the height of the boom, Evans managed to get a high-end quality at, well, low-end value.

How did he do it? He used his not inconsiderable experience in the world of commercial design and...places like Ikea. A lot of the fixtures and fittings here are off-the-peg, but not so you’d notice.

Tricks learned from supermarket layouts, lavish corporate headquarters and the structural needs of health centres and hospitals were put to good effect.

Now, his three-year old, 2,000 square foot house is complete, beautiful and cosy – and is being sold because he has to follow the work abroad.

In the end, he says, it’s about putting the right element in the right place and paying money for the things you can’t change.

This explains the Hansgrohe fittings and Villeroy and Boch sanitary ware – the expensive extras that give an edge to this north Cork city home.

The one flourish is the Dominique Imbert fire that sits like a mast in the middle of the house and which cost the bones of €15,000 to purchase. This signature stove, by the French sculptor and designer, is the point around which the house pivots.

Set under the exposed steel beams that hold up the roof, (with mood lighting set cleverly behind), it marks the boundary between kitchen/dining and living space.

The living area is sunken, forming a square in the centre of the house from which all of its other elements spread.

It’s the first space encountered when coming through from the asymetrical porch and draughts are offset by a clear rectangle of plate glass – a clever excluder.

The stairs is cantilevered and bounded by a fair-face, or raw concrete wall which provides a hanging space for the TV and storage behind.

Beyond the living room is the rectangle of kitchen/diner, with a bank of windows facing west that slide open to a pond and patio area. This shallow rectangle of water was designed for quiet reflection, says Evans, and also to reflect evening sunlight into the living space for dramatic effect.

The kitchen scheme shows the pre-eminence of design because it’s all assembled from Ikea units, but with a practiced eye that mixes white with oak and formica with stainless steel. With one built-in wall of units, the long and wide island unit does most of the hard work here and includes a deep-lipped, steel sink.

The worktop, a complimentary grey formica, was a special order, (Ikea) and is trimmed with a stainless steel band. All integrated appliances are also Ikea, as are the sleek high gloss white units in the living room.

Flooring is subtle Italian tiling in grey, matched by rich wool carpets in the same colour. Frames of wide plank oak are used in heavy traffic areas and there is underfloor heating throughout the ground floor.

But while the vaulted living space with exposed steel makes a statement, it’s the bedrooms that stand out for detailing. Often, these rooms are peripheral to the main event – the living space – but here, the reverse is true.

For a house of this size, it has five, double bedrooms, four of which are ensuite and all are finished in variations of the same colour scheme.

The bathrooms are set behind sand-blasted panels with glass doors to the bedrooms and tiling is white with mirrored and coloured glass highlights.

Top quality fittings are standard and the main bathroom has a low-key contemporary bath with overhead shower and separate cubicle. Then, there are the fitted wardrobes, simple in oak veneer, with matching beds and drawer units and Ikea internal storage. Very good, very organised.

Tiling follows a grid pattern, says Chad Evans, with rectangular 300m by 600m tiles used in white and grey all over the house and offset by smaller white mosaics in the bathrooms.

Two bedrooms, plus another which could double as a living room/den are on the ground floor, with two larger rooms overhead.

The bedroom are placed at each gable end and are lit by the full height, narrow barn windows that give the exterior that designed look – internally, they work even better. Open to the apex, the house has a white-walled mezzanine overlooking the living room and entrance porch and it’s where Evans works.

With a ‘B’ BER cert, it is on the market with Gary O’Driscoll of ERA Downey McCarthy for offers in the region of €525,000.

High on a hill, it’s surrounded by countryside and an old stone wall, but at night the city lights provide a stunningly atmospheric view.

Definitely one to see.

- Pictures: Denis Scannell

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