Ingrid and Warren Furlong have self-built a traditional farmhouse using stone from their own land and reclaimed materials.

“People are usually surprised when they discover our house isn’t old,” says Ingrid of the farmhouse she has self-built with husband Warren, within rural County Wicklow. “That was exactly our aim. We love the style and character of old farmhouses, and that is what we wanted to create.”

Unlike most, Ingrid and Warren were fortunate enough to already be in possession of a plot, in the form of a ruined small dwelling on their family’s farm. Surrounded by mature trees, the plot had the air of long habitation. Over the last 14 years, the couple have added to this lineage by creating their own homestead — building a traditional-style farmhouse, a two storey outbuilding for Ingrid’s catering business and space for guests to stay.

“As we were interested in traditional Irish stonework, we started to look at local buildings,” Warren explains. The couple frequently stopped to examine some particularly attractive examples of stonework and were often invited in to discuss the merits of one or another stone. “And that’s how we found stonemason Bartie Kehoe from County Wexford,” says Warren.

Such research proved invaluable, as the recommended stonemason informed the couple that they could actually use their own stone to build with. “We hadn’t realised it, but the walls of our house were there just waiting for us,” says Ingrid.

With their ideas for the exterior taking shape, the couple duly appointed an architect to help plan the interior layout of the house to suit their own needs. The rooms would be large and comfortable, and the house suitable both for family and for entertaining.

Once the plans for the three bedroom home were approved, Warren began the work, taking on the role of project manager and employing trades directly instead of using a main contractor. He also undertook a lot of the labour himself to save money.

The finished house now fits seamlessly into its rural location as if it had been standing there for generations, built with local stone and local labour, but with all the comforts of modern living. It is a testament to thinking outside the box and creating something thoughtful which will stand the test of time.

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