Architect transforms council house into £520,000 house with garden recording studio

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You’d be hard-pressed to find any sex notes at Willow Cottage, except for what might occasionally emanate from the recording studio in the garden.

A harmonious blend of original early 1900s cottage and contemporary extension, designed by a brother of one of the owners, architect Paul Horgan of Horgan Carroll in Midleton, Willow Cottage chimes beautifully with its surroundings.

The house was considerably smaller when the couple bought it 20 years ago, although the kitchen had already been extended, as well as the bathroom. It had also been modernized and refitted.

Initially, the only significant change the pair made after buying it in 2002 was to turn what was a three-bed into a two-bed.

“Two of the bedrooms were smaller than a storage room, so we removed a wall and made two decent bedrooms instead, but the long-term plan was to expand it eventually,” says the housewife.

They started doing it in 2008, with a baby on the way. Paul drew up the design and the man of the house took over as project manager.

“We brought everyone in. [builders, electricians, plumbers] ourselves.

“The roof was removed from the old chalet when I was eight months pregnant. The job took about 12 months and our daughter was born right at the end. We still haven’t moved into the extension, but at least we were back in the house,” she said.

The chalet, formerly owned by the general council, was “unrecognizable compared to the time when we bought it”, says the woman.

Of course, it’s transformed, nearly three times the size of what it used to be (from 800 square feet to 2271 square feet) and it gained a two-story wing in the process, connected by a hallway/corridor to the original build.

The front door leads into the hallway which has a glazed wall to one side overlooking the front lawn.

Glazed corridor
Glazed corridor

It’s a quirky triangular shape, tapering where it meets the original cottage and fanning out at the opposite end to accommodate a staircase that leads to a mezzanine above the main living area – which is the centerpiece of the extension.

Architectural features abound here: a huge glazed wall rises in a vault beyond the mezzanine. In the center of this wall is the fireplace mantle, with a raised recessed stove. Two sets of French doors on the adjacent wall lead outside and in the opposite wall is a full length bay window. The impression is of height, light and space, in this fully modern cedar-clad addition to Willow Cottage.

The other characteristic room on the ground floor of the new wing is the master bedroom, where two bay windows are used to
stunning effect.

master bedroom
master bedroom

A dressing room, with an all-glass wall, is large enough to be used as a child’s room.

Dressing room
Dressing room

There is also an en-suite bathroom, while the master bathroom, with a gorgeous saffron clawfoot tub, separate shower and fabulous clerestory windows, is in the older part of the house. .

Main bathroom
Main bathroom

Two of the bedrooms remain in the original cottage. The fourth bedroom is on the first floor of the extension.

Older rooms have the beautiful curved wood paneled roofs of the original cottage, as does a cozy family room in the old building.

A pretty country style kitchen diner at the end of the old house has patio doors leading out to a south facing slate patio.

There are also lovely exterior touches, with steps and decking in various places around the house which spans half an acre. The large front and rear gardens (the rear is enclosed) are mainly laid to lawn, with boundaries surrounded by a good selection of mature trees and shrubs.

One feature not found in most homes, which makes it a unique selling point, is the backyard recording studio.

“My husband turned it into a recording studio. Music is his thing and he produces records.

“The studio has a sound booth and an office and it’s acoustically set up for people recording vocals,” says the housewife.

A new owner can keep it as a studio or use it for other purposes such as home gym/home office/game room/teen break room.

Container Recording Studio
Container Recording Studio

Miah McGrath of McCarthy & McGrath Auctioneers is handling the sale of Willow Cottage. The guide price is €520,000 and it says the four-bed is “an outstanding family home”, with “views over rolling countryside”.

“It’s an irresistible mix of old and new, they’ve found the right mix and the end product is a very warm and livable family home. Some modern builds can be a bit clinical, but this has it all,” says Mr. McGrath.

“We will see good interest from families wanting to move out of town and from those looking to relocate to the area who are looking for quality property,” the agent said.

The quality is evident. The location is also good, about 1km from the village of Lisgoold and 5km from the town of Midleton.

VERDICT: Eye-catching design features are the hallmark of this bright, quality home. On a generous site, it is ideal for raising a family. Budding music producers will love the recording studio.

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