This 80-year-old's 'party house' is a thatched cottage with a gym, sauna and wine cellar
The 80-year-old who built this large thatched cottage for himself asked his interior designer to go wild with colour and she obliged
Exterior of The Cool Thatch House, Lavey, Co Cavan
There are few things as picturesque or evocative of Ireland as an old thatched cottage nestled between stone walls and fields of green – but they tend to be dinky one-storey homes, full of character and charm but lacking in proportion.
The Cool Thatch House (yes, that is its real name) in Lavey, near Ballyjamesduff in Co Cavan, is probably unlike any other thatched cottage you’ve seen in Ireland. A 3,500sq ft five-bedroom house on a hill in Lavey behind electric gates, it was built by the 80-year-old owner Michael Leddy as his “party house” and comes with a gym, sauna, wine cellar and an interesting colour palette.
Interior designer Lorna Kee, who designed the exhibition home at the Ideal Homes show in April 2014 and won the tender for the interior design of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Ballsbridge, was hired by Leddy to decorate the house on the condition that she embrace colour.
It’s a standout property that has attracted a lot of attention from passers-by and local people.
“On a sunny day, the bright yellow of the thatch and the white of the walls are beautiful against the blue sky; it’s very dramatic to the eye.” says Kee.
Inspired by the larger thatched properties the owner saw dotted around England, particularly Cornwall, the Cool Thatch house was built last year on a site across the road from the cottage Leddy built for his family when he was 18 years old. Kee says you could fit the original family home into one of the living rooms of the Cool Thatch house.
Leddy, a former builder and developer who is based in Dublin with his wife, Maisie, insisted the party house would be a grey- and taupe-free zone, says Kee. “I was a bit freaked out by that: it was a challenge because I’m so used to the safety net of grey and taupe.”
The bedrooms are all lavish and one, the lavender room, is a riot of purples with handprinted lilypad wallpaper by Voyage. The colour scheme of another south-facing bedroom was the result of compromise on both sides. Leddy wanted it to be bright yellow, but Kee persuaded him to go for a grey, yellow and cerise theme.
In the main bedroom Leddy wanted the exact shade of peach as in the main bedroom of his Dublin home. She added coral and a feature wall of Matthew Williamson wallpaper with tigers jumping out of flowers. Another bedroom in the Cool Thatch House has a hidden bed that turns into a desk. “He wanted a James Bond bed.”
No expense was spared on the fittings and fixtures. The windows are copper-clad and several rooms are floored in glossy Porcelanosa tiles with underfloor heating beneath.
There’s a large kitchen with handmade units and a beamed ceiling but the standout feature of the house is lavish fabrics used throughout.
The curtains were what brought Kee and Leddy together in the first place. She was showing her “couture curtains”, made from four types of fabric, at the Ideal Homes show and Leddy liked what he saw. His curtains were made from white velvet, Voyage patterned velvet with huge peacocks, green velvet and a raspberry-coloured fabric. These curtains can cost up to €2,000 a pair, “but you can enjoy them for 10 to 15 years,” says Kee.
Leddy bought the patchwork-effect sofas for the sunroom and apparently spends a lot of time in the gym doing his daily workouts, and relaxes afterwards in his sauna.
In a press release for the house there’s a quote by Juan Montoya,“A room should never allow the eye to settle in one place. It should smile at you and create fantasy.” Well, the Cool Thatch house has certainly achieved that.