The accidental eco-house

The couple who had this house built had not intended it to be so eco-friendly or so big but their architect and friend persuaded them that this would be a good option and the result is a bright, energy efficient home


Laurence and Ruth Hill hadn’t planned to go green when they built their house in the Co Kildare countryside five years ago. They hadn’t even planned to build a large new home just across the field from where they had lived for over 20 years – with children mostly grown, they were thinking of something small.

But their architect and friend Eric Brooks persuaded them that it made more sense to create a large house – with geothermal energy and underfloor heating – on their two-acre site.

The result is Meadowlands, a 353sq m (3,800sq ft) five-bedroom home with a B2 energy rating that combines rustic chic with efficient modern design to make a comfortable family home in walk-in condition.

As well as geothermal heating, with thermostats in every room, it has solar panels, triple-glazed windows, a heat-recovery system, instantly heated water for the kitchen sink, central vacuuming, and a centrally (or room-by-room) controlled sound system.

The house also has double-width American oak flooring throughout and some of the bathrooms are fully tiled wet-rooms.

The couple are moving to Cork and their house – in a quiet country setting near Straffan – is for sale through agent Will Coonan for €850,000.

The north-facing front of the house has small windows and gives no clue to how bright Meadowlands is inside: all the large floor-to-ceiling windows are at the south and west-facing back of the house, and there are recessed roof windows everywhere letting light pour in.

A bright double-height entrance hall opens into a large sittingroomwith two seating areas: one surrounding a cast-iron open fireplace, the other next to the floor-to-ceiling windows facing the large back lawn. Double doors open onto a large patio.

The bright cream kitchen and dining area has a solid oak-topped island unit which conceals a warming drawer under the built-in microwave. There is a double Aga with an electric oven and gas hobs and polished quartz worktops.

Local Clane company Delmer Kitchens made all the carefully crafted units.

There are floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides of the large dining area, with French doors opening onto the patio.

A cosy family room off the kitchen has a double-height ceiling, roof-lights, and a solid-fuel stove. A utility room off the kitchen opens into a big games/music room with a pull-down cinema screen.

Two of the five bedrooms are downstairs, both opening onto the back garden. One has a mosaic-tiled en suite wet-room and there’s a separate fully tiled bathroom. Upstairs are three bedrooms and a study which has windows looking into the sittingroom. There’s a big dressingroom on the way into the main bedroom and a large en suite with a Jacuzzi, walk-in shower and twin sinks.

Another bedroom is used as a study beside a teenager’s bedroom: its fitted wardrobes include a floor-to-ceiling shoe closet.

Outside, there’s a large lawn, flowerbeds, and an orchard. Beyond the lawn is a large field which could be used for horses.

There’s as separate garage, a bio-cycle waste system and security lighting.

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