room for im­prove­ment

Kate Cooper and hus­band Andy re­vamped their hig­gledyp­ig­gledy home, cre­at­ing open-plan spa­ces and re­lax­ing cor­ners

25 Beautiful Homes - - NEWS - Fea­ture DILLY ORME | photography DAVID PARMITER

Cre­at­ing large open-plan spa­ces to suit mod­ern fam­ily liv­ing was the num­ber one pri­or­ity in this Berk­shire prop­erty

best buy ‘The wooden break­fast bar stools are by Rus­sell Pinch, made as a pro­to­type for Bench­mark. I bought them in its ware­house sale for a bar­gain’

When Kate Cooper was on ma­ter­nity leave with her new­born son, Sam, it be­came very ap­par­ent that the fam­ily re­ally needed room to grow. Kate was toy­ing with what would have been a dis­rup­tive ex­ten­sion in the town­house she was liv­ing in with her hus­band, Andy, their two-year-old daugh­ter, Penny, and baby Sam. Then a chance meet­ing with an es­tate agent set her on a dif­fer­ent path.

‘Ini­tially this house was de­scribed as be­ing 1970s and need­ing a lot of work,’ says Kate. ‘But I was in­trigued and popped to see it with­out telling Andy. When I saw the site, I re­alised it of­fered much more po­ten­tial than our cur­rent house. It was an am­ple size, but the ori­en­ta­tion didn’t feel right. How­ever, there was plenty of scope for de­vel­op­ment. For ex­am­ple, the front, south-fac­ing gar­den was not be­ing utilised due to a drive cut­ting across it.’ But tak­ing on the chal­lenge proved suc­cess­ful. ‘It was def­i­nitely the right move,’ says Kate. ‘The house has grown with us. When we moved in Penny, now 12, was a tod­dler, Sam, now 10, a baby and Rosie, now 6, not even born. She ended up tod­dling her way through what be­came a build­ing project, five years after mov­ing in.’

Kate, who is di­rec­tor of ar­chi­tec­tural prac­tice Ab­so­lute Ar­chi­tec­ture, and Andy wanted the house to work as a re­laxed home, where they didn’t need to be too pre­cious and the chil­dren could use all ar­eas. ‘Our idea was to have big, light, open and so­cial spa­ces with no bar­ri­ers, but also some pri­vate spa­ces to re­treat to,’ ex­plains Kate. ‘ We did orig­i­nally plan the lay­out so that we could in­stall glazed screens be­tween the hall and kitchen, but we love the open­ness. The house is in such a

d e s i gn t i p ‘Keep an over­all pal­ette fairly con­sis­tent and use accessories to high­light and con­trast. You can al­ways change or move pieces if you get bored’

pri­vate lo­ca­tion that we didn’t need the usual for­mal­i­ties of a hall ei­ther. I think the open­ness and double-height en­trance space are unique, bring­ing in plenty of light and al­low­ing us to give the house an over­all con­tem­po­rary look. It has also worked as a great way to con­nect the house to the gar­den.’

As well as max­imis­ing space and light, Kate fac­tored in sus­tain­abil­ity up­grades into the over­all de­sign. ‘ We in­su­lated the house ex­ter­nally and it makes an amaz­ing dif­fer­ence to the com­fort level,’ she ex­plains. ‘ We then kept things sim­ple with the decor. The small de­tails be­came re­ally sig­nif­i­cant – light switches and ra­di­a­tors are all prom­i­nent vis­ually, so we wanted to get those right. A big suc­cess was the light­ing con­trol sys­tem in our open-plan ar­eas. It’s bril­liant to have all the lights set at the push of a but­ton. Our huge coat cup­board was also a good idea – we have a whole wall of shoe and bag shelves. The big les­son we learnt is not to com­pro­mise too much and take your time to get what you want. We’ve taken 10 years in to­tal to fin­ish the project but we’ve done it at a re­laxed pace, as and when we can.’

Kate loves the sim­plic­ity of Scan­di­na­vian de­sign, in par­tic­u­lar the sense of crafts­man­ship. So she has stuck to a sim­ple pal­ette and filled the house with things she has col­lected over the years. ‘Some are new, some junk shop finds and some pieces passed down from my Welsh grand­par­ents,’ she ex­plains. ‘I like the sense of his­tory and quirk­i­ness that th­ese things add.

‘I love lots of do­mes­tic 1950s ar­chi­tec­ture,’ she con­tin­ues, ‘ in­clud­ing Scan­di­na­vian and Bri­tish, for its use of nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als and in­ten­tion to cre­ate houses that re­ally work. We have added a few glam­orous touches for a bit of fun but tried not to be too con­sciously on trend. Ul­ti­mately, we want this house to re­main a time­less clas­sic.’

‘if you’re about to re­vamp your prop­erty, write a de­tailed brief of how you want to live in your house. use this to ad­vise an ar­chi­tect who can help you re­alise your dream by turn­ing those words into spa­ces. Style is the re­sult of good de­sign, not

some­thing pre-con­ceived. Mod­ern de­sign

does not nec­es­sar­ily mean that ev­ery­thing

has to be sharp and shiny – con­tem­po­rary

style is of­ten at its most beau­ti­ful when

ex­e­cuted us­ing soft, tra­di­tional ma­te­ri­als. if you’re start­ing from scratch, con­sider off­site con­struc­tion. Whether it’s com­pletely or par­tially built off­site, it can help with costs, sus­tain­abil­ity and speed.

Good ideas for a mod­ern style can come

from any­where – what about that art

gallery you vis­ited in the sum­mer with

the great stair­case? You can take an idea

you liked and use it in your home. Be­ing eco-con­scious is not all about be­ing clever – it’s about do­ing sen­si­ble things well. For in­stance, when build­ing a new wall or roof, why not put in an ex­tra 20-50mm of in­su­la­tion? it will not cost the earth but will save on heat­ing. it’s bet­ter to do things once and do them well. Build things to last.’ JUDE Tug­man, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Ar­chi­tect Your home

profe ssional a dvice

Re­planned home truths the prop­erty De­tached house Lo­ca­tion Berk­shire Rooms Hall, sit­ting room, kitchen-diner, study, util­ity room, cloak­room, play room, four bed­rooms (two en suite), two bath­rooms pur­chased 2008 pre­vi­ous prop­erty ‘Be­fore mov­ing here, we l

SIT­TING ROOM Vin­tage fur­ni­ture and a col­lec­tion of colour­ful ceram­ics give this area a retro look. FB2 double-sided wood­burn­ing stove, £2,280, Fire­belly Stoves. Flos glo-ball pen­dant light, £321, heal’s. the Lars ac­cent chair in Diego grey, £399, Made.com, would also suit this set­ting ROSIE’S BED­ROOM A bunk bed with a cup­board and draw­ers un­der­neath of­fers in­valu­able stor­age. Sim­i­lar Stompa bed, £1,049, John Lewis

BATH­ROOM ‘This space is a re­lax­ing re­treat, where I can en­joy some quiet time,’ says Kate. Moleanos beige honed lime­stone tiles, £ 47.99sq m, Man­darin Stone

MAS­TER BED­ROOM Soft greys cre­ate a serene scheme. tight Space Stor­age king-size bed, £970, Loaf

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