Designer cottage: The hideaway home of Calvin Klein architect

Designer cottage: The hideaway home of Calvin Klein architect


If you’re in the market for a holiday home in a dream location, then take the advice of vendor Mark Newdow – go house hunting in winter. If a property still grabs at your heart when the skies are low and the days are short, then it’s the one.

This, says the American architect and owner of the 250-year-old cottage on the Kerry coast, is what he told his wife Terry back in 2005 when she set her sights on a house in Ireland. A self-confessed romantic, Terry wanted “something set on a cliff that looked like it was from the 17th Century”.

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In the end, she fell for Canfee, a two-bed, stone-built cottage. It may not be on a cliff, she admits, but it is set into a hillside, and the view out over the Kenmare River estuary to the MacGillycuddy Reeks is unspoilt by 21st Century blemishes.

“It is,” says Mark, “like being in a Turner painting.”

Unfortunately, at the time, there were several other bidders who had also fallen for Canfee. This being the peak of the boom, the couple eventually got the cottage for €382,500, just €2,500 less than its current asking price. And since then, points out Mark, they have poured in €80,000 into a new roof, insulation, floors, heating, wiring, and restored fireplaces. They also fixed up a shed with a new roof and there is another ruin that, subject to planning, would make an artist a fine studio.

“The bones were fantastic,” says Mark, who numbers Calvin Klein’s HQ in New York, and Atlanta Airport among his designs. “It just needed to be brightened up, and reheated. We did all the basics, repointed the exterior, and I put up authentic cast iron gutters instead of plastic ones.”

Inside, they painted the walls, oak beams, wood panelling and ceilings white. The cottage is just one room deep so the large living room, dining room and kitchen all have a window to the front and rear – and those views. The kitchen has an AGA and fitted country-style units.

The first floor has two double bedrooms with pitched roof and Velux windows, and a bathroom. The decor throughout is simple but elegant and, says Mark, very easy to maintain.

This is a place for those seeking peace and quiet. The property sits on approximately one acre of grounds with mature birch and oak marking the perimeter and giving great privacy. It is surrounded by a 40-acre farm so there is little danger of that view ever being interrupted.

“Our only neighbours are four-footed ones,” says Mark.

Now, after 14 years, the couple have put Canfee on the market. “We’re getting older and our family is still in the US,” says Mark. “So it’s no longer practical to come over.” They intend to return to the States where they will split their time between Florida and Cincinnati.

The cottage is ideal for lovers of the outdoors. Just behind the house, there is Knockatee to climb. Thirteen kilometres back along the Beara Peninsula towards Kenmare is Glenichaquin Park, a spectacular coombe valley scooped out by glaciation. It has a 140m waterfall that feeds a series of lakes along the valley floor – and is a perfect picnicking spot.

The much-loved O’Sullivans Bar four kilometres away on Kilmakilloge pier is a regular spot for a pint and a plate of crab, salmon or mussels fresh from the sea. Walk further along the coastline and you come to the beautiful 68-acre Derreen Gardens, once the home of the Fifth Marquess of Lansdowne, and a good stop for tea and cake.

There is the Post Office in nearby Tuosist for milk and bread, but the weekly shop requires a trip further afield to Kenmare town, 20km away, where there is a plentiful supply of places to tempt the shopper to stop for a meal, including the Breadcrumb Bakery, Jam and An Cupan Tae.

CANFEE, Tuosist, Kenmare, Co Kerry €385,000

2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom

Era Mid-18th Century

Size 92sqm


Agent (064) 664 2101

Viewing By appointment

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