Tommy Barker visits a home which was designed for both comfort and views by its owners and their architect.
Ballycotton, Cork €490,000
Size: 218 sq m (2,345 sq ft)
A DESIGN-savvy couple, a well-regarded architect, and the use by them all of a classic 1970s bestselling text on architecture, from designing cities to doorknobs, has lead to this thoughtful, and effective, home on a special east Cork coastal site.
Built to an exceptionally high standard back in 2001 is this Ballytrasna, Ballycotton beauty, now for sale as its owners’ careers have taken them overseas.
Because of the nature of the site, and the site- specific design, as well as quality materials “it’s one of Ballycotton’s finest coastal properties,” asserts estate agent Clare O’Sullivan, of Sherry FitzGerald O’Donovan.
Its success is a shared result of intensive collaboration: the couple, who are university academics, used West Cork-based architect Una O’Sullivan to design a home for their east Cork site, and collaboratively they worked out its design and spatial layout in conjunction with Californian theorist and writer Christopher Alexander’s much admired text, A Pattern Language.
That work, spanning text, images, graphs, and sketches, was intended to empower anyone to create or design their own surrounds, from improving towns and cities to building homes, offices and more, down to rooms and furniture: it’s still regarded as an essential primer on architecture in the broadest sense.
It all comes together and works at this modern home too, with field, sea, headland, hedgerow, and horizon views all off to the south, and seen through this home’s many large windows, while behind, its approach aspect from the road faces north, has smaller windows, and has as engaging inland views right up towards the Comeraghs and the Knockmealdowns in the yonder distance, ranging over much of Counties Cork, Tipperary, and Waterford’s best land.
As enticing as the sunny day and stormy day views, north or south, are the night skies and there’s a cosy, glazed alcove to curl up in, tucked in under a sloping ceiling in the master bedroom suite: this suite also opens from here to a first floor balcony for stargazing, while the sweep of the beam from the Old Head of Kinsale lighthouse 30 miles away to the south west can also been seen at night.
In a way, it’s a sort of distant, intermittent consolation, given that Ballycotton’s own dramatically-sited island lighthouse is just a mile or so over the headland, out of sight, if not out of mind.
(Just as well that SFO’D selling agent Clare O’Sullivan says this is “one of Ballycotton’s finest coastal properties,” as, surely, the top contender for that very ‘best’ title is back in the village itself, a brand new architecturally-accomplished multi-million-euro water-fronting build where the unobstructed view is harbour, sea and island/lighthouse view. It’s world-class stuff.)
This option — more affordable, and now available — is all within an uphill, and down slight dale walk, of picturesque Ballycotton village, with a nearby boreen leading down to Ballytrasna beach for regular dips, as well as having a choice of other beaches and coves for swims, fishing, and water sports.
(A next door neighbour’s large garden houses much fishing gear, and even a fishing boat.)
When the couple bought here back around 2000, they got an acre site: subsequently and more recently, they bought a further 0.57 of an acre, to give them more of a run of a field to the back and down towards the view and the coves, giving them gardening/landscaping options as well as sensibly preserving their framing of vista.
Local builder Sean Harrington delivered this high-end, two-storey product to Una O’Sullivan’s drawings, on a north-south aspect, in traditional block build with white render, Liscannor stone, and lots of external timber cladding in western red cedar, plus cedar double-glazed windows and doors, with low emissivity/energy efficient K Glass.
There’s an attached garage, done to domestic standards, and even the garage window to the south, by the Kilkenny blue limestone patio, offers a sea view, while adjacent sheltering walls are rendered simply, with rounded top profiles, and painted.
The floor plan is as if two sections tow section had slid off at an angle, and roof profiles are all asymmetrical, with a mix of roof and wall mounted Veluxes, and some full-height first-floor windows in two of the three upstairs bedrooms (finding space for a fourth bedrooms at ground level or into the garage shouldn’t be too hard for those viewing, and who need more sleeping space).
Unusually, and effectively, there’s a view right through the house from a large glass pane by the sheltered front door, through the high-ceilinged hall and past a balustrade which separates it from the main , large living living room with part-screened seating alcove.
There’s a tall, contemporary Morso wood-burning stove here, which in most homes would be a room’s focal point: here, the eye’s always drawn to the windows and world beyond.
Flooring throughout the ground level is cherrywood, save for the hall and guest WC in travertine, and there ‘s a transitional space off the hall/living to the kitchen/dining room, with triple aspect of glazing, with an internal glass block wall panel dividing these main socialising sections.
There’s oil-fired underfloor heating at ground, except in the pantry by the kitchen, so as to keep it cool for for storage. Separately, there’s a utility room, and a study by the hall door entrance.
Gracing the back/side wall off the kitchen is a hand-painted mural by Cork city artist Geraldine O’Riordan, covered in cooking splatter range with glass.
Ms O’Riordan’s work in abstract waves of colour and geometric shapes also features more strongly in/over two walls of the master suite, which has a shower room en suite and a walk-in wardrobe.
Also up here is a south-facing bedroom, and one facing north, plus a main cork-tile floored bathroom with double-ended bath, with a novel surround of vertical strips of cherrywood and paler birch for a spa-like look.
Sparsest of all is the fitting out of the kitchen, which has a black, stipple Marmoleum floor and open shelving/storage on two levels, on all sides and under the serving counter/peninsula, with the main cooking/wash-up worktops in solid oak at a slightly higher height than standard.
This home’s owners have already relocated, so it’s mostly unfurnished, though a few pieces have been left to give an idea of scale: it’s a home that can take big, bold feature pieces, no problem.
Auctioneer Clare O’Sullivan guides at €490,000 and is confident it’s going to sell very well, most likely as a full-time residence.
She says there’s so little of this modernity and quality to be had in the overall area, not to mind with 1.5 acres and views, and shoreline proximity, with Ballycotton and Shanagarry a few minutes drive away, and Cork city and airport as a commute option of about 40 minutes by car via Midleton.