Wednesday 25 April 2018

Family home inspired by unusual work of art

Vesington Wood, Dunboyne, Co Meath €750,000

Laura and John Cunningham on the lawn at Vesington Wood with their children Mark and Katherine. Photo: Tony Gavin
Laura and John Cunningham on the lawn at Vesington Wood with their children Mark and Katherine. Photo: Tony Gavin
The spacious kitchen
The living room with 5m high window

Fran Power

Designing your house around a view is common enough - but creating it around a poster? Yet that's what the vendor of Vesington Wood, John Cunningham, did when designing his home on 1.5 acres of family land near the pretty village of Dunboyne.

Naturally, it is no ordinary poster. It's a 1906 vintage Victorian Gothic piece of art designed by Metlicovitz, the father of modern advertising, to commemorate the opening of the Simplon Tunnel from Switzerland into Italy.

"I found it in Genoa. I love that genre of poster art. Art nouveau is very stylised, it's an organic style, a reaction against the industrialisation of production. It ties in with the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th Century."

When it came to designing Vesington, John and his wife Laura drew on both styles and flourishes of Art Nouveau can be seen in the pitch of the gables, and the ironwork balcony at the rear of the house, as well as the design of the windows, while John commissioned bespoke stained glass windows for the hall and kitchen.

The spacious five-bedroom, two-storey house was also designed with a family in mind. There is plenty of storage, as well as a walk-in larder and a large utility room with laundry facilities. Elsewhere, there is a playroom, good-sized office/bedroom and WC.

But the centrepiece has to be the open-plan living area that combines a generous country-style kitchen, a dining area with enough room to seat a large party and a living area that soars up to double height, with a vaulted ceiling overlooked by a mezzanine balcony.

A 5m picture window frames the west-facing garden and maximises the available light. Floors are solid oak and there is a Victorian marble fireplace that softens any contemporary edge. A cast-iron column was salvaged from a church in the Cotswolds. Now painted red, it matches the Victorian-style radiators.

On the first floor, there are two large master bedrooms, one that looks out over the back garden and has an en suite with a sunken Jacuzzi bath - "the kids love it" says John; the second has a walk-in wardrobe and en suite. There are two further bedrooms, both doubles, and a family bathroom.

Vesington has a B3 BER rating and John has installed a heat-recovery system and solar panels that, he says, mean free hot water for six months of the year.

The large lawned area to the rear of the house has a patio area with plenty of room for table and chairs and - an unusual sight in an Irish garden - a boules court. "I used to play a lot in Italy," says John, "it's an all-weather court, so perfect for Ireland." The grounds also contain a large garage that could, subject to planning, be converted into a second living space.

Dunboyne is 5km away and offers a train station, a range of restaurants and pubs, and a good choice of schools including an Educate Together and a Gaelscoil, as well as Dunboyne Secondary School. The journey time for commuters is roughly 30 minutes to the city centre, with Dublin Airport a 20-minute drive.

The couple plan to move to Skerries to be nearer Laura's family but John hopes another family will snap up Vesington. "It's definitely a family home and perfect for someone working in town or who needs the airport."

Era: 2009

Size: 310 sqm

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Sherry (01) 824 9452

Viewing: Strictly by appointment

Sunday Independent

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