Deft design makes Rock House special

A house that’s easy on the eye — and even easier to live in. And, now, Rock House can easily be all yours, if you have €695,000 or so to spare.

A better class of bungalow: that’s Kinsale’s considered Rock House. Seemingly simple touches, fore and aft, lift this modern Kinsale home with its cantilevered decking onto a higher plane: it’s done with a deft mix of unadorned, plain materials, respect for its site and maximising its strengths, as well as injecting doses of restrained design elan and expertise. Result?

A house that’s easy on the eye — and even easier (and more pleasurable) to live in.

And, now, it can easily be all yours, if you have €695,000 or so to spare.

It might initially seem pricey for a three-bed of over 1,800 sq ft, but remember, this is Kinsale, and it’s a place with great (if a bit distant) sweeping, bend-in-the-river and harbour views. A scan of the national price register shows a couple of local Kinsale sales of €1.1-1.5m in the past year, and a whole bunch of €500-€1m sales too: Kinsale’s property market has refound its mojo, in the main thanks to overseas buyers, and one of its biggest sales is currently almost finalised too as a further local confidence booster.

Rock House is up on a hill north of the harbour town, at a spot called The Rock, off the start of the Kinsale-Bandon road, within a short walk of the town (when the Examiner visited last week, school-children were trudging back uphill and home past its site after their classes had ended.

That pedestrian proximity to the town is a key attribute, says selling agent James Murphy, who feels that Rock House is going to attract a relocater, who’ll be buying into Kinsale’s hospitable attractions, restaurants, bars and shops and can do so from a house on the hill, that can be locked up and left for periods of time.

This was a part-time/second home for the owners who built this within the past decade, knockin an earlier dwelling, on a sloping one-third acre site, going to be fairly easily kept thanks to hard landscaping and planting by Catherine Bernard Landscapes, in a contemporary style to match the house’s low-slung visual impact.

Design is by architect Tom O’Sullivan, who’s been in Kinsale since 1996 with some top homes and awards to his credit, and here his coup is in knitting a simple-plan box bungalow onto a fall of ground, yet giving it some ‘lift’. He’s done this by incorporating discreet steel detailing around the cantilevered deck, wrapping two-sides of the box, to give the effect of the house projecting, floating over the garden. It seems to free up the house a bit when admired from outside on the hill, and inside the impression is even more so of hovering over the ground, and having the views even more into frame.

The distant views are, you see, the best from here, taking in the full river-curve around Compass Hill which juts up across the glen wherein the town lies. It rained the day of our visit, but on a sunny day, you just know the river/estuary sparkles, and at night the lights below twinkle. And, this house’s extensive southern-aspected glazing and balcony is perfectly pitched to capture all those disparate glories.

All the living spaces front onto that projecting deck screened in by clear glass balusters topped with a stainless steel hand-rail, a look and finish which came into vogue here in the past decade, and deserves to stand the test of time, elegant and easy to keep with the odd use of a squeegee.

Attention to detail is evident too in the way the internal floors (solid oak) exactly match the deck level outside, while the deep, sheltering eaves over the kitchen’s sliding doors line up as well with ceiling beams in the rooms inside. Slide back the enormous doors by the breakfast island, and this space easily achieves that inside-outside flow, with a measure of rain/weather protection too.

Both the main living room and kitchen/dining room have deck access and unencumbered views, with hall behind, and bedrooms all on the hall’s other side, facing the house’s pleasant approach.

The master bedroom has high-up. shallow windows facing glass-fronted Sliderobes and its en suite also serves as a main bathroom, while back along the mid-section hall are two further bedrooms. These each have sliding patio doors in lieu of regular windows, and Veluxes punched overhead into the ceiling (a great idea for a bungalow) and share a bathroom.

Decor is understated, white is dominant and doors and some internal glazing have a horizontal panel banding theme going to visually combine space, and new owners can just move art and furniture into, to feel right at home.

The low-pitch roof (with solar panels for hot water) is in Tegral slate with zinc gutters, the entrance pillars are painstakingly done in small stone shards, the front drive is in micro cobbles and it all feels private and secure, with gated access.

VERDICT: Lifted out of the ordinary by deft design.

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