RTE's Home of the Year contender hits the market
Kylebeg, Landenstown, Sallins, Co Kildare €720,000
Once James and Mary Connolly had got over the shock of their house being flooded in a freak accident and the insurance had paid out, they were presented with a number of options.
Having established that they could insure a new house on the site, once the level had been brought up to where it should have been in the first place, they then had to decide whether to replace the original house - an Eighties bungalow - with something similar, or to go with something very different.
With three architects in the family (sons Steven and Alan, and Steven's wife Grainne Daly) there was only ever going to be one answer to that question. James and Mary agreed to hand over creative control of the design to the three, whilst taking charge of the budget themselves.
Steven, who worked with Tom de Paor and Grafton Architects and now, with Grainne, has his own practice, dot architecture, took on the role of lead architect.
"Our parents were dream clients," says Steven, "in that once they told us that they wanted four or five bedrooms and the usual kitchen, living and dining spaces, they left us to get on with it".
Steven may describe Kylebeg - he calls it the 'C House' - as 'a modern interpretation of an Irish bungalow, no more, no less' but there's no denying its distinctive appearance. (If it looks familiar, that's because the house featured in RTE's Home of the Year in 2015.)
"We worked with structural engineers and designed the house effectively as three blocks - one for living, one for kitchen/dining and one for sleeping. We wanted to minimise the amount of unusable circulation space, and so we positioned the three blocks around a 'knuckle' point."
The plan of each block is square, and they are arranged in a cruciform configuration, with the 'sleeping' block lying to the left of the front door and accommodating five double bedrooms over two levels.
The four bathrooms are all wet-rooms, and three of the bedrooms are en suite. The 'living' block can be configured either as two separate rooms or one very large one, and the kitchen (complete with walk-in larder and separate utility) is a huge open-plan space to the back, surrounded by windows.
"Because we were not adding to the existing plate of the original house, we did not have to encroach into the gardens," says Steven, "and so from day one Mum and Dad were able to enjoy the mature trees and planting that already surrounded the house".
Steven says that the striking dark anthracite grey exterior render, which sparkles when it catches the light, 'is a bit Marmite', but that new owners can simply paint over it if they prefer. It does, however, contrast beautifully with the exceptionally light interior, lit both from the sides and from above. The huge windows and pivot doors in Iroko were all made to order and swallowed up a large part of the construction budget, but repay the investment in spades.
"The only thing that I really queried was the cost of the windows and doors," says James. "PVC would have been less than half the cost."
Outside, the wraparound gardens feature a garage, glasshouse and fruit trees, and a decked patio area that looks out over neighbouring fields.
"It's rare that you get to spend as much time as we do inside a project that we designed," says Steven. "When you're stacking the dishwasher, it's nice to be able to pause and appreciate all the little touches that perhaps no one other than the architects ever notice."
Now that their children have all left home and have families of their own, James and Mary plan to downsize and to spend more time at their house in France.
Agent: DNG McCormack (045) 861 595
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