Why you won’t feel cooped up in this new-style country house
Rein House has brought contemporary architecture and design to the Yorkshire countryside. Sharon Dale reports.
IN a hidden-away spot just outside Aberford, Jane and Neil McAndrews have created a rural idyll where happy-looking hens cluck-cluck round the garden and horses gaze languidly at them over the fence.
All that’s missing are the cottages and that’s because they’ve been replaced with one of the county’s most contemporary country homes.
With its white render, huge expanses of glazing and a stylish minimal interior, the house would sit just as well in LA as it does in Leeds 25.
It’s certainly very different from Jane and Neil’s previous home, a period farmhouse a couple of fields away.
A friend gave them the chance to buy the plot, which housed three ramshackle cottages, and they couldn’t resist the chance to self-build.
“The cottages were past renovating, which meant we were able to come up with our own design. We wanted something to reflect the 21st century rather than a pseudo Georgian or Tudor place,” says Jane.
Their own ideas were translated by architect Gary Lupton and, after a year of negotiating with the local authority, they finally got planning permission.
“We lived in a caravan on site for a year while the build went ahead and we were really lucky in finding fantastic builders. Everything went smoothly,” says Jane.
The house, completed in 2005, is a German-style construction with a single skin of breeze block clad with Sto polystyrene blocks and render.
The couple were keen to be as green as possible so the windows are triple-glazed, self-cleaning glass, Viessmann solar panels heat the hot water and an air source heat pump warms the house, which also has underfloor heating.
The McAndrews also arranged the space to suit their needs. It includes an enormous open plan ground floor with three bedrooms and two bathrooms above.
There is also an attached twobedroom annexe, which comes with a 95-year-old tenant.
When they bought the cottages, the elderly lady in the end one did not want to leave her longterm home, so the McAndrews temporarily moved her into another property and created a two bedroom home for her on the site of her old one.
“The annexe can stay separate but we also designed it so that it can be incorporated into the main house to create a five or six bedroom property. There is a fabulous room above the annexe that is fully glazed on the corner and offers dramatic views, so that could be another bedroom or it would make a fantastic studio,” says Neil.
The enormous picture windows mean that the property is full of light and rural views, including one from the bath.
The long slit window is eye level with the top of an old bay tree and Jane enjoys looking at the birds while she’s soaking.
Compared to older country homes, it is warm, draught-free and inexpensive to run thanks to the green heat, high levels of insulation and the fireplace they had built in the middle of the living area.
“We had oil heating in the last house, which was very expensive. Our heating bills have been halved since moving in here,” says Neil, a commercial property developer.
He and Jane also had a fresh start with their furnishings. The interior was furnished by Robert Mason in Leeds and the lighting is by Du Luce.
“We brought almost nothing with us from our old home,” says Jane. “It was very cathartic getting rid of most of our belongings.”
Although it looks like the sort of house where shoes are banned and mud is feared, the opposite is true. It is homely and designed to be practical for its outdoorsy owners. There are no skirting boards to dust and the ground floor is covered in wipe-clean porcelain flooring. There is also a central vacuuming system.
“I don’t like cleaning, so I made sure this house was easy to look after. I don’t even have curtains because they get dusty,” says Jane, who is also known as Mrs Cluck Cluck.
After getting her first four hens as a birthday present 15 years ago she has saved a number of former battery hens from the chop and now runs courses in chicken keeping for novices.
Her own hens have pretty houses in the rustic part of the garden, which contrasts with the area at the rear and side of the house
Designed by Marco Schrang to complement the modern house, it features a series of beautiful reflection pools.
“It’s absolutely wonderful. I love the pools as they make it feel like the house is floating and Marco used the same porcelain tiles outside as we have indoors for the patio.
“When you open the doors it feels like part of the house, like you’re sitting in a field,” says Jane, who will miss them when she sells her home.
She and Neil are serial movers and are planning to fulfil a dream of living in the Dales.
“We love taking on new projects and this is our eighth home in 25 years.” says Neil.
“It’s testament to this house that it’s the longest we’ve stayed anywhere. It’s very special and we know we won’t be able to find anything like it in the Dales but we hope to recreate the interior.”
Rein House, Lotherton, near Aberford, is for sale for £1.3m with Beadnall Copley, tel: 01947 580850. www.beadnallcopley. co.uk
FREE REIN: Rein House is an energy-efficient contemporary home in Lotherton, near Aberford. its modern interiors are designed to be stylish and low maintenance. The house belongs to Jane and Neil McAndrews, and Jane is also known as Mrs Cluck Cluck as she runs courses in chicken keeping and keeps her own hens at the property.