This story originally featured in The Book of Interiors Volume 2 (2005)
Along the Fairway
The carriage trundles past the splendid four-storey chateau, across the Liffey, rolls, beneath a bank of weeping willows and then swings down a cobbled street of new houses. The smell of fresh cut grass ripens the air. The driver reins up outside a house of twinkling granite and sweeping balconies. The broad Kildare sky explodes above the Gallic mansard roofs, its blue eternity echoed in the generous sash windows. A curious stillness fills the air, to be followed by a "phut" and the sound of a distant figure throwing a golf club irately into the air.
Such is the scene one might encounter when arriving at Ladycastle, an exclusive
development of 83 new houses and apartments currently springing up alongside
the Smurfit Course at the K-Club in Straffan, Co. Kildare. The development
is the work of Menolly Homes of Lucan, the team behind Farmleigh
Woods in the Phoenix Park.
The Smurfit House is the largest of four types of house styles available at Ladycastle. The four-bedroom showhouse was decorated by Garuda Design of Belfast, the company behind Browne's Townhouse & Brasserie and Peploe's Wine Bistro, both on Stephen's Green. Design Homes of Dalkey and Beggs & Partner of Belfast were also on hand to design the kitchen and bathrooms respectively.
One enters into a munificent hall, wallpapered in a mulberry paisley. A cream carpeted staircase and banisters gradually climbs the left-side wall, while at ground level the eye is drawn across a floor of solid oak to a white bench of velvet cushions sheltered beneath a miscellany of Hogarthian caricatures and blue urns. The entirety is reflected through an antique wood-framed mirror positioned above a stunning crackled white Italian table
The four double bedrooms are all located on the ground floor while the dining room, kitchen and living room are upstairs. Each cream carpeted bedroom is bedecked with linen from Top Drawer and cushions, rugs, carpets and bedcovers from Garuda. French side-tables, desks and wardrobes from Cawleys make up the general furnishing while one room features a magnificent mirror. In one of the smaller rooms, a wall-length wardrobe is dramatically fronted by twenty X-shaped silver-rimmed window panes, reflecting a silver-grey carpet on the floor beneath. The silver theme is enhanced in the curtains, bedside lamps, mirrors and leafy sketches above the bed. Even the light switches are carefully manicured to have that rustic metallic effect. One might expect this to invite an "argentine overload" but the effect is remarkably subtle and successful.
The Master Bedroom boasts French Windows that open out onto a patio overlooking the golf course, somewhere between the 18th fairway and hole. Another bedroom follows a classical French theme of white furniture, chequered curtains and colourful, moody art. The French theme is perfectly apt in such a setting; the Bartons who built Straffan House in 1830 were the same family who co-founded Barton & Guestier Wines in France. Indeed, the building now known as the K-Club was modelled on Madame Dubarry's great Parisian Château at Louveciennes.
The bathrooms by Beggs & Partners are deliberately simple and clutter-free - Duravit sinks, stainless steel taps, Showerlux baths and tiles from David Scott Agencies of Belfast. The smallest bedroom en suite has a futuristic bamboo coloured Philippe Starke "Bacino" sink-bowl set upon charcoal grey tiles.
Rising up the oak staircase, a rectangular Italian mirror dominates the wall above. A reflective armchair sits beneath antique maritime prints of London and the Thames. An oakwood floor runs throughout the second floor, softened by rugs. separate double doorways present themselves- left for kitchen, centre for dining room, right for living room. All three rooms have French windows at the far end that open out onto an impressive terrace, with steps, overlooking the golf course.
The drawing room features stylish grey-striped wallpaper and a coloured velvet sofa, also striped, with alternate lines of silver and rust. Black shaded wall side-lights and silver curtains augment the contemporary. A vast silver rimmed mirror occupies one wall while a shimmering rug features lines reminiscent of a backgammon board. A low-lying circular table from Garuda acts as the centre piece and is surmounted by glass balls.
The dining room next door features a large stained mahogany table and chairs overlooked by a circular mirror. The room is elegantly decorated with wooden lamps, black baroque urns and Oriental wall-hangings.
The dining room opens directly into the kitchen. Here one can either cook in comfort - or recline by a delightful fireplace, curled upon a sofa of linen and silk, a glass of red stationed upon one of two glass-topped wooden tables. The kitchen -a vision of cream colours, clean lines and flecked brown marble countertops - is by Design Homes in Dalkey. A large island unit occupies centre stage with ample storage space and an overall ambience of brightness and space. The kitchen appliances are state-of-the-art - Gaggenau, Neff, Brittana and so forth - while excellent touches like a wine rack above the fridge and window blinds reinforce the aesthetics of functionality. An ever-useful pantry waits dutifully next door. This is a house where attention to detail is such that your only worry is whether your irons are in good working order for the next round.
Photography: Barry Murphy