It was during their time in the south of England that flooring specialist James Farquhar and his wife Elizabeth fell in love with the classic Tudor-style architecture that originated in the region over 500 years ago.
With their signature timber frames and steeply pitched roofs, the olde Tudor houses were a sign of improving standards of life in England in the 16th century. Merchants, squires and wealthy farmers were responsible for the explosion of these modest homes in town and around the country.
In the Victorian era, the Tudor style revived for a time and this ran into the early 1900s. And it revived once again in the 1990s (the revival of the Revival), at first in the UK and in particular in places like Manchester and Surrey. The 1990s trend crossed the sea to us with many new estates taking that gabled and beam Tudor look, as well as one-off homes.
When the Farquhars returned to Ireland, they were full of ideas after James spent time working on some of these neo-Tudor properties in the UK. In the early 2000s, they bought a site in Ard na Gréine, just outside Carrigaline, and began building Oak Lodge.
Elizabeth worked on plans with architect Ken Owens, and James, a master craftsman, threw himself into the finer details. The build itself took a few years, with James taking on most work himself and carefully supervising the jobs he couldn't do.
Materials were sourced from far and wide. The bricks came from Belgium and the natural roof slate from Brazil. From closer to home, the green oak in the mantelpieces is from nearby Coolmore Estate.
Perhaps the greatest achievement in the build, however, is the staircase, which took five months to complete. The theme they chose is chess, with pieces sculpted out of five different woods.
James used oak, yew, red gum, walnut and sycamore to create the work of art. Newel posts at the start of the staircase have the king and queen, on the top landing you'll be greeted by the bishops and castles, with the knights, in black cast iron, guarding the mid-landing. And it doesn't end there. James created an actual chess board on the first-level return, with the black squares made from red gum and the white ones from pale sycamore.
James now owns a floor business so was passionate about this part of the project too. Most of the flooring downstairs is two-and-a-quarter inch wide American oak strips that have been varnished and lacquered.
Not content with his first attempt, James decided to rip up the oak hallway a few days before Christmas, much to Elizabeth's horror. He replaced it with a parquet floor with a bespoke centrepiece and borders. True to his word, the new floor was ready on time for Santa and his muddy boots.
The house has a generous floor area of nearly 4,000sq ft. The thought and detail that went into the Tudor-themed façade continues throughout the house, with the floors, doors and ironmongery providing a feast for the eyes as you walk by.
When you're done with admiring James's work in the hallway, double doors on each side bring you through to two reception rooms, while a wall-to-wall folding glass door straight ahead leads into the dining room. This feature brings the house to another level if you're one that enjoys entertaining. It can be pulled back to open the whole house up, with plenty of room for a number of guests to mingle comfortably.
The lounge to the right of the hall has a faux-stone fireplace with brick insert. The corniced ceiling and two ceiling roses are lovely touches in the modern build. On the other side of the hall is the living room with inglenook fireplace and solid oak mantle. Inset into this is a Norwegian Jotul ceramic-coated, cast- iron stove.
Behind the folding glass doors is the real heart of the house. It's open-plan living at its best because instead of one wide space, there are separate areas where a family can be together without having to be right on top of one another. The kitchen area to the right has cream country-style hand-painted units. There is an island in the middle with seating for five. The range cooker, two fridges and integrated dishwasher are included in the sale.
The dining area is behind this with another Jotul stove against the exposed Belgian brick wall, with matching cream flue. There is a relaxed living area that's big enough for two sofas to the side of this open-plan scheme with exposed beams and double doors out to the garden. A utility room provides extra storage and is plumbed for a washing machine and dryer, with a guest WC and boiler room beside it.
The games room will be a big draw for teens. It's a den of dreams with a solid walnut floor and lights that have been fitted to sit over the pool or snooker table.
Upstairs the master bedroom runs the length of the house with dual aspect from the front and rear gardens. It has an antique polished slate and marble fireplace and an ensuite bathroom.
The other four bedrooms have built-in wardrobes and the same high-quality oak floor as downstairs. The family bathroom has a salvaged roll-top bath that sits perfectly under the pitch. And speaking of pitch, the roof means that the floored attic, with folding stairs access, is huge so storage will never be a problem.
James's hard work didn't end in the house. Outside the back doors, he built a patio with four inch-thick flagstones. He then went on to build the playframe with slide, a pergola, the chicken coop and the glasshouse with an oak frame made out of the cut-offs from the house.
He was very passionate about the gardens too and put much thought into the planting and layout. There are acers, ferns, and palms, as well as a yew tree, that are all maturing nicely. The glasshouse has lemon trees and old Hamburg grape vines, if anyone would like to try their hand at making their own Muscadet.
The front garden has a paved parking area that fits a number of cars with raised flower beds and copper beech hedging.
The house is on a quiet cul-de-sac of 10 or so houses of different styles and sizes. Carrigaline is about five minutes away by car. Cork city is a 20-minute drive away and the airport about 15 minutes.
The satellite town has grown massively over the past few decades, with new housing estates springing up for city commuters. With these new residents came new facilities like a Dunnes Stores, SuperValu and Lidl. In terms of schools, there are five primary and three secondary for the local children.
Carrigaline main street is typical of many small Irish towns, with the hotel welcoming visitors on the way in. Hassetts' Bakery is one spot that's not to be missed.
Michael Hassett opened his first business in Douglas in 1984 and expanded into Carrigaline in 1995. With countless awards, it's impossible to leave the bakery without some of its signature sourdough or orange and poppyseed cookies or a selection of its delicious Danish pastries.
The National Maritime College in neighbouring Ringaskiddy has brought jobs and education to the area too. It is the first third-level college to be built under the Government's Public-Private Partnerships scheme, with the public partners being Cork Institute of Technology and the Irish Naval Service, and the private side is Focus Education.
As for the Farquhars, after years of hard work, they will find it difficult to leave Oak Lodge behind, but with their children now leaving the nest, they feel it's time to move on to the next phase of their lives.
Don't be fooled by thinking they'll put their feet up though, they can't wait to get their hands dirty again and get stuck into another project.