Sunday 17 December 2017

Shedload of eco-friendly credentials

Ballyminaun Little Killinick, Co Wexford €249,500

Interior designer Anne-Marie Carty in her lounge in Wexford.
Interior designer Anne-Marie Carty in her lounge in Wexford.

Words by Fran Power and Photographs by Tony Gavin

When Ann-Marie Carty, vendor of Ballyminaun Little, was getting married, her grandmother had a few words of advice for her. "Every good marriage," she said, "needs a shed."

Sage advice, indeed - the couple's first house purchase was a new-build on an estate. But they stayed only long enough to complete the interior design. Partly, they admit, because Ann-Marie's husband Hamish Stuart loves to play the uilleann pipes - a gift that is not always appreciated in the confines of a small space.

The building is clad in wood
The building is clad in wood

However, their new home - a timber-framed, highly energy-efficient, detached house built in 2001 by eco-architect Colin Bell - boasts a fine-sized garden shed with central heating and electricity, and has just one neighbour nearby.

"And Hamish is now teaching Clea, our 11-year-old, to play, too," laughs Ann-Marie.

The house itself is also configured to allow the couple and their children - Clea, James (8), and Hamish's daughter Bonnie (14) - to co-exist happily. Its current clever design is down to Ann-Marie's skill as an interior designer and the opportunity to completely rethink the interior space after a freak plumbing accident that flooded the ground floor.

The couple moved the staircase to create space for a utility room and cloakroom, installed a new kitchen, replaced the living room floors and added a TV space upstairs on the mezzanine. They also added a fourth bedroom to the three existing bedrooms, one of which has an en suite.

The ground floor is mainly double-height
The ground floor is mainly double-height

The ground floor now is, for the most part, double-height with an L-shaped dining/living/kitchen area and a wonderful sense of spaciousness and light.

Timber beams are set off by white walls, floors are stained dark wood and there are double doors leading out on to a south-facing deck, where the family likes to eat in summer.

Upstairs, there is an office, that TV nook, and a little library, as well as attic space.

The property's eco-credentials are immaculate. South-facing, it was designed to take full advantage of solar gain, with triple-glazed windows, super-insulated walls and ceilings, a wood-burning stove that, says Ann-Marie, heats the entire house, and a system piped and ready to go for solar panels.

The open-plan living space has white walls and dark wood floors
The open-plan living space has white walls and dark wood floors

The couple also added a zoned gas heating system when they refurbished. Energy bills for heating and water, Ann-Marie estimates, currently run to €800 a year. "But we haven't had the heating on since the end of February," she says. "The house is super warm."

The exterior is clad in wood, and reminiscent of the clapboard houses of North America It sits on three quarters of an acre of grounds, which feature a reed-bed percolation system, and a small orchard of apple, pear, cherry and plum trees where the family's chickens cluck around.

For those on the hunt for an easy-to-run family home, or a holiday spot near one of Wexford's many beaches, Ballyminaun Little represents good value for money - purchased for €310,000 in 2005 and since upgraded, it is now on the market at an asking price of €249,500.

"We're very lucky with where the house is situated," says Ann-Marie. There are schools at Kilrane, Piercestown and at Mayglass, where her own children are ferried each morning by bus.

The village of Killinick is 2km away, and has a good farm shop and tea rooms, Karoo, as well as two much-loved pubs, The Merry Elf and Coopers Inn, known for serving fine steak. Wexford town is 15 minutes' drive away. As for beaches, the family choose their swimming spot "depending on which way the wind is blowing and what the weather is like," says Ann-Marie, but Rosslare Strand, 15 minutes' drive away, is a favourite.

The family will be staying in Wexford, but moving closer to Ann-Marie's parents at the other end of the county. "My parents lived overseas for 30 years and they've just moved back to Ireland. We want to reconnect with them and move closer to them," says Ann-Marie.


Era: 2001
Size: 162.5 sqm
Agent: Keane Auctioneers (053) 912 3072
Viewing: Strictly by appointment

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