You may recall from our previous blogs, that we have been following our clients', as they journeyed through the process of buying a house, extending and renovating.
We’ve guided them through the development since the very beginning, from when they first decided to create their own individual long-term family home. We have tracked their progress through a series blogs which take closer look at the reality of undertaking a major home building project, experiencing the ups and downs a family.
Now that the project is complete, we’d like to share with you how we’ve breathed new life into a dated three-bedroom detached house, transforming it into a five bedroom, light and airy contemporary space, that’s bespoke and perfect for the whole family to grow into.
Click here to follow their journey from the beginning or if you’re ready here’s a short project refresh before we start…
Location, location, location
Having lived in a new build property for many years, the couple knew that with a growing family, they’d need more space to comfortably enjoy life at home. However, their previous property didn’t offer the potential to add space and value by extending. They decided to find a plot or a property to gain more space, to be closer to the local schools and to enjoy life together.
The old saying goes that you should look for the worst house on the best street and it is great advice for anyone looking for a renovation bargain. No matter how amazing you make the property, it can only be as good as the area it is in.
Our clients' found a dated property in need of modernising in the right location, with no chain, however there was a drawback with the plot. It was too costly to knock it down and rebuild, and our clients liked some of the original features, so we suggested that our team could remodel and extend the property to suit their needs. We gave them some great ideas and guidance with regards to how a design could work and crucially what would most likely get planning approval.
They made the offer and it was accepted.
The property was chosen not for only its location, but also the size of the plot and the potential to remodel on the site. The garden is very large and private, providing the scope and ability to extend and reconfigure without creating a negative impact on the neighbours or the street scene.
Their brief was to maximise the potential of the extensive plot to expand and remodel the existing three bedroom detached house. They wanted a house that they could grow into with their two young children, without the lack of space becoming a problem in the future.
They wanted open plan space to spend time downstairs as a family as well as a snug area to escape with their friends whilst entertaining. At their previous house the kitchen wasn’t that spacious and there was only comfortably room for them as a family, so they were keen to have a larger open plan kitchen, dining and lounge area that they could share with friends and family. The couple both work from home from time to time and required a quiet area to concentrate, they also wanted two good sized rooms for the children, a large master bedroom with an en-suite and bedrooms for guests to stay over.
Another request was that they also wanted to make sure it wasn’t too 'cutting edge' so that the design was affordable and therefore buildable'. We explained how we control costs on a project and that good design doesn’t have to have a high price tag attached.
Initially they intended to keep as many of the original art and crafts features as possible. The house had the original stained-glass windows, original doors and handles and Minton tiles in the hallway. After discussing the cost of restoring the original features it was going to prove more costly than it was important to retain the details. They soon realised that they were only keeping the windows to try and save them for the house and if they were to select new windows, they wouldn’t choose that style. In terms of value for money it wouldn’t be worth keeping the original features especially when it wasn’t to their taste. This project is their forever home and wanted a style that they felt excited about rather than doing a duty to preserve. They decided to sell the feature windows, doors and ironmongery to a local salvage yard. However, they decided to retain the Minton floor tiles in the hallway.
Our clients' new property has a large, private, enclosed, mature rear garden, creating a perfect opportunity to open out the back of the house to provide level, easy access for entertaining and spending time alone as a family.
Using the initial project brief we started to develop outline proposals. We presented a few initial concepts from their project brief. We met to talk them through the design ideas and drawings to work together to identify the right design concept for them.
As with any project we want the final design to reflect our client’s aspirations and to provide them with a home that adds value and improves their quality of life.
The Ground Floor
On the ground floor we’ve replaced the single garage to create a new office space. Positioned at the front of the property, we've maximised the south facing aspect, creating a bright and warm working environment. it provides an outlook onto the driveway allowing them to see who’s arriving whilst they’re working. Located directly below the master bedroom's en-suite at the front of the property the office is in an ideal location for reduced levels of noise from above and it’s also away from the social areas to the rear of the house.
The lounge and dining space were previously open plan and ran the full length of the former house from the front to the rear. We’ve kept the original lounge space at the front of the property and a new wall now closes off the lounge from the original dining room. The chimney has been opened out and we’ve reused the existing fireplace by introducing the wooden burning stove. The family chose the wood burner to create a cosy new snug area at the front of the house to gather during the colder months of the year.
The original Minton tiles in the hall were covered during the building works to protect them and they’re now a stunning feature as you arrive into the hallway. The hall then opens into the former kitchen space which we’ve opened out by extending into their large back garden. To reduce the impact of the size of this new open plan kitchen, dining and living space we’ve created smaller pockets of social areas within the room for people to gather for various activities.
Immediately to the left when entering the new extended family room there’s a corner sitting area for the television and computer games, to the right is a long walled kitchen with a cooking island and there is a large open plan dining area which seamlessly opens outside, maximising the private garden views.
Our clients' spent time testing the range of floor tiles available for this family space. They gathered a number that they liked and invited friends and family to walk on them barefoot to test for comfort and grip. They chose a large tile that covers the indoor living space and continues out onto the new rear patio with a flush threshold. By recessing the base tracks and frames into flooring their furniture can span the threshold if they wished, and there is nothing that to step over too. When the full length bi-fold doors are fully open the floor extends from indoors to the exterior, drawing the eye outside thanks to the continuous finish of the floor tiles and the flush threshold.
Now that they have a usable indoor, outdoor living space they are more likely to spend their days with the doors open, enjoying lots of daylight and fresh air. Although the room is north facing, the roof lights and full-length bi-folding doors supply an abundance of natural light and warmth from the sun. The underfloor heating keeps the room at an ambient temperature and feels nice underfoot on the new tiles.
Off the kitchen, there’s also a good-sized utility room which has external side access to the driveway and a downstairs W/C.
The First Floor
On the first floor there was previously a master bedroom at the front of the property, a double bedroom at the rear next to the family bathroom and a small box bedroom adjacent to the master bedroom. The family only really need three good sized bedrooms to live comfortably, but the existing layout didn’t work for them at all. Although three bedrooms would fulfill their need, they ideally wanted three large double rooms for their family and extra space for guests to stay.
We suggested to use the first floor of the property to create the three large doubles and then to use the loft to accommodate further bedroom accommodation for guests. We rearranged the layout to make the most efficient use of the space by using the former front box room as the new landing and staircase up to the loft.
The space above the former garage is now their new master bedroom with a walk-in wardrobe which leads to the new en-suite at the front of the property. The former master bedroom and rear double have become two good sized bedrooms for the children, and they’ve retained the family bathroom for all to use. The former south facing window from the box room at the front of the property provides plenty of natural daylight onto the new landing and stairs to the attic. There’s even space by the window for a small reading snug to curl up in with a good book.
The Second Floor
The attic makes a great area for guest accommodation, the two new double bedrooms have a shared shower room and W/C giving it an almost self-contained feel away from the hustle and bustle of the busy household below. The new bedrooms are extremely spacious with built in storage space into the eaves of the roof. The roof lights not only provide a large amount of natural light, but also ventilation too. The family often leave them open to ventilate the whole house. The location for guest accommodation also means that the family maximise their own bedroom space on the first floor, leaving the second floor as occasional space.
For the size and scope of the project that our clients' took on we advised at the outset that adding the extra bedrooms and a bathroom in the attic would add extra value to their new property. The house and plot size are befitting of a home that has a larger number of good-sized bedrooms and amenities. By adding the extra rooms, it positions the house into a different market and price bracket if they ever decided to sell in the future. In fact within weeks of them moving in they had someone knocking on their door to ask if they wanted to sell.
Now that they’re settled in their new home, they’ve commented how nice it feels to be living in their new location as well as enjoying the luxury of their new home. They recently drove the children to see their old property and they said how different the approach is to their old house in comparison to their new home. As they headed up the road to their old house, it reminded them of the journeys that they spent negotiating the numerous speed bumps just to reach the house and out again.
The new location is closer to school, links to the major roads and motorways and they have more amenities on the doorstep.
They now have a new family tradition too, a cycle to the local pub for Sunday lunch (when they’re not using their new amazing kitchen). The tradition was born during the final stages of the build. Before the kitchen was complete, they would cycle to a pub for their evening meal. They’ve found a local culinary gem as a result and it’s something that’s stuck ever since.
When the house was first complete, they had the feeling that it was more like a luxury holiday home that they were staying in, and it took them time to get accustomed to it. The house has exceeded all of their expectations, it’s so light and spacious, especially the extended family living space and kitchen. They spend most of their time in this area, especially the corner snug. The room has everything they need to be together as a family, there’s a large comfy living area and media centre, dining facilities, their new stylish kitchen and the seamless access their private garden.
Their new home has been a hub of activity since it was completed (just in time for birthday celebrations) with friends and family calling in and they had many people around to enjoy the birthday celebrations too. Although there was a significant number of people over, it didn’t feel overcrowded. There are so many areas within the house which create natural spaces to gather, the snug, the kitchen, the dining area and the seamless flow out the the garden; the occasion felt very relaxed and enjoyable.
It’s wonderful to hear that the house is already ticking all the boxes as per their brief. Our team at Croft Architecture have created a new home with plenty of space for them to grow into as their young family matures. The open plan extended family kitchen area unites the family daily whilst providing lots of space to entertain and gather with the wider family and friends. The full length bi-fold doors and the continuous use of tiles from the kitchen through to the patio connect the house with the garden from the inside out. Even though they have the perfect space to entertain a large gathering of people, they also have smaller pockets of seclusion, allowing them to spread out meaning that the open plan rooms feel less expansive.
We asked them if they would do it again and their response was;
“If you’d asked us as soon as we’d completed the project our answer probably would have been no. It’s fair to say that despite the time we’ve had to plan and think about the project in advance, the reality was very different. We knew that we would need to make decisions, but during the process discoveries were made etc. and this meant that we needed to make the same decision more than once. Knowing what we know now, yes, we would always consider using an architect to create the home that we want for 'our lifestyle'. Croft Architecture helped us to turn our vision into a reality. It’s just what we wanted and more.”
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Preparing for a home building project
As architects, helping clients with their projects we could be compared to helping people to travel on an expedition to the ‘four corners of the earth’. People who decide to take on a home building project need to have a certain degree of vision, to be pragmatic, resilient and maybe just a little bit crazy for embarking on such a life changing project. Building a house is a bit like one of those big worldwide adventures we’d all like to go on; it works best when you have an experienced guide with you every step of the way to allow you to fully enjoy what you set out to achieve.
If you’re contemplating a project of your own, do you have the personality traits that will help you through a building project? It’s definitely not a solo journey – you need a support team and back-up, that means surrounding yourself with great people – good architects who have experienced the design, planning, construction process of many different types of buildings lots of times before. They’ll bring value for money to your development, imagination and design flair, project management, for peace of mind that your scheme is heading in the right direction, whilst keeping a watchful eye on your budget and managing your risk!
Give us a call on 01785 248542 or message us to find out how we can help you with your project.