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

Thu, Jun 20, 2013, 09:52

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.

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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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