THERE are extensions and conversions that follow the line of a given house, blending the architecture of the old to the new in a seamless join.
Then, there are the exceptions like “Ella Grange” at Kilnagleary, Carrigaline, Co Cork, where the absorption of a run of garages has been flagged by a modern tower.
And it’s marvellous – the owners gave architect James Burke free-rein to come up with something different, and he did.
Not only has he created a bright pivotal point in the formerly unremarkable house, but the three-storey connector brings heat and light through large amounts of glazing, but particularly by its overhead lantern roof.
It just goes to show what even a little architectural input can do to raise a house’s profile, literally and otherwise.
Reaching over three floors, it has a bird’s eye view on the inner reaches of the Owenabue estuary and the rich harvest countryside.
And there’s another little quirk – one of the converted garages included a mechanic’s pit, (down to the previous owner), so the Francophile extenders decided to integrate that into the new design.
The grubby pit is now a clean, functional cellar with tidy racks for wine, brought home by its owners. Access is through a trap door of old sea-washed pine in the new wing.
And Ella Grange is on the market because its vendors are hoping to relocate to France, where they spend a lot of time.
The upshot is that their large house on its manageable, mature site hits the market this autumn with Jeremy Murphy of Jeremy Murphy and Associates for offers in the region of €675,000.
What’s also unusual about the property is the number and range of living spaces. Basically L-shaped, this house tracks the sun’s trajectory throughout the day, starting with the bedroom wing to the east, moving through to the study and south-facing kitchen, with conservatory extension and on into the tower and then to a large, open-plan living space.
This is a quite unpredictable space, with a sense of surprise at every turn. And while it’s an individualistic take on a remodelling, it will woo viewers on comfort, light and a sense of home.
While the fittings range from classically formal, as in the main living room, through to fresh and contemporary, (with the third floor of the tower providing one of the best playrooms even), there isn’t a pretentious touch in the whole house.
If there is one slightly negative aspect, it’s that the bedroom space is less than the living space. There are three bedrooms here, including master suite, (the former fourth bedroom is now a study), but six to seven distinct living spaces.
And that list includes three floors of the tower, the conservatory, part of the kitchen, the big, open plan living room in the former garage and the gracious, formal living room on the older part of the house.
The new living room, however, converts to a self-contained apartment and is used for visiting dignitaries like grandparents.
Cleverly, built-in units in one corner hide a small but efficient kitchen and behind is a fully formed shower room. Beds convert and doors close off from the tower to provide a private, self-sufficient living space.
The kitchen is fitted in white units, with dining and living area and it leads through to a large, fully glazed conservatory, flanked by mature shrubs and trees.
The bedrooms and study are to the left of the main hallway and immediately to the right is the formal, family living room. At 18’ by 14’, this is a lovely room with perfect proportions and a high wooden ceiling and shelving units at either side of an open fireplace.
The tower, which on the ground floor has doors north and south, incorporates flexible seating areas on ground and first floors, (with much-sought curved furniture to meet its requirements) and a cut-away, glazed gallery at first floor level.
Overhead, in the crow’s nest, playroom which has a little coffee bar for the adults, there’s the broad expanse of water and woodland to capture the imagination.
Ella Grange weighs in at just under 3,000 square feet and that’s excluding garage and workrooms. Surrounded by old woodland, in a location that’s minutes to Carrigaline, this is a great house in a great location and one that only a visit will truly unravel.
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