Upside-down Cobh home captures all the shipping news

Upside-down Cobh home captures all the shipping news

Chatsworth, Walterstown, Cobh

Cobh, Co Cork



182 sq m (1960 sq ft)







HOW do you overcome a treeline to make the most of a killer view?

Hire a lumberjack? Buy a chainsaw? Or simply flip the house design?

The owners of Chatsworth in Walterstown chose to flip, creating an “upside-down house”, and added a huge veranda (23 sq m) off the main upstairs living area with direct line-of-sight to the always-in-flux shipping channel. The upshot? Better than Netflix - and no subscription fee.

Chatsworth is a home where the starring role goes to the upside-down design and harbour view. The understudy is the wood. The owner, a joiner by trade, reels off the names of the timbers around his home as easily as a child reels off their ABCs: Western Red Cedar, American Cherry, Honduras Pitch Pine, European Cherry, Pippy Oak, American Black Walnut, Sycamore. It’s ominpresent and beautifully crafted, from the Western Red Cedar of the window frames and door at the front of the house, to the American Cherry bookcases in his home office, to the Honduras Pitch Pine on the staircase, most of which he made in the detached garage/workshop. It wraps over the entrance hallway to form a gallery landing, and he even made the handrail, which was tricky, as it’s curved, glueing many separate pieces of timber together.

All in a day's work for a man who has freelanced for London-based luxury fit-out specialists Beck Interiors, for a decade.

“I started with them on a Selfridge’s project and it snowballed from there,” he says.

His role with them now is managing the design process, and projects he’s been involved in include the refurbishment of the Sheraton Park Lane, a signature Art Deco hotel in London’s Mayfair, and the fit out of Watches of Switzerland, Europe’s largest showroom devoted to 20 of the world’s leading watch brands on London’s Regent Street.

Knocking out a staircase is easy-peasy by comparison.

At the top of that staircase in Chatsworth, a round-topped Pippy Oak door (know as Cats’ Paws because that’s exactly what the grain looks like) opens into the main living accommodation, an open-plan kitchen/dining area/ lounge.

 It’s where you first catch a glimpse of that view, when you walk into the kitchen with double height ceiling, supported by pitched roof trusses.

Double doors open from it onto that large cedar-deck veranda, also made in the workshop, and supported by galvanised steel.

To create a radial view, they opted for a curved deck, which the joiner built himself.

“Luckily, we just had to buy the materials and I provided the labour, but if we’d had to pay someone to do it, it would have been a different shape!” the owner says.

He loves that he can see Whitegate jetty - his Dad worked on it when it was being built.

"You can appreciate it’s full length from the verandah - it’s a mile long. You never see the length of it from Cobh,” he says.

You can see Currabinny too and Crosshaven and on towards Roches Point, at the narrow mouth of Cork Harbour.

“The whole house was designed around the view,” the owner says, and he’s managed to bring it into a second, separate, upstairs living room where he installed a corner window.

 This room has a country club feel thanks to American Black Walnut dado panelling. A dormer window is another nice touch - it has glass side panels instead of the usual opaque cladding to let in more light. A dormer in the open plan living area is also glazed front and sides, and underneath it is a window seat, made by the joiner who also made the dining table, chairs, kitchen work tops and window sills.

The owners more or less built the 182 sq m house themselves. They met in the UK after the joiner moved there at age 24 and stayed on for eight years.

“I had a subscription to Friday’s Examiner at the time because it had the jobs section. I’d get it in the post the following Monday. I saw an ad for a job in Cork and that was when we came back,” he says. 

It was 1996. They bought the site in Walterstown from an aunt and built the house in ‘98/’99, using a timber frame purchased from Cygnum. A builder did the brickwork and the owners did “pretty much everything else”. The entrance has a pitched roof porch with king post truss.

 Selling agent Johanna Murphy of Johanna Murphy & Sons says Chatsworth has a hint of a Swiss Chalet about it and she is guiding  at €525,000. She points out that it’s on 0.6 acres, with a fabulous stretch of lawn to the rear, fanning out below the verandah.

That south-facing lawn can be accessed from the main downstairs bedroom - which has an ensuite and walk-in wardrobe - via French doors.

Ms Murphy also highlights the proximity of Chatsworth to Walterstown National School - it’s literally a stone’s throw and Cobh town is a five minute drive.

After more than two decades at Chatsworth, the current owners are moving the length of a garden away, where they’ve already re-built an old cottage.

“I know we put a lot of work into it, but I’m prepared to say 'been there, done that'. What I’d like now is to get a boat and get back on the water, and also, to get back travelling as part of my job, which I’ve missed during Covid.” 

VERDICT: Terrific view, top-class woodwork, ideal family home inside and out.

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