River­side home with a bed that can be floated up to the ceil­ing

Trans­form­ing a tiny pump­ing sta­tion into a stun­ning river­side home took time and in­ge­nu­ity. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

WHEN Muriel and Ray Tate an­nounced they were down­siz­ing from their con­verted barn, noone an­tic­i­pated their next move.

In­stead of a cot­tage or bun­ga­low, they opted for a mi­nus­cule, di­lap­i­dated pump sta­tion with a sin­gle room mea­sur­ing 5m x 6m and a win­dow­less 3m x 3m base­ment.

“Peo­ple thought we’d gone mad,” says Muriel.

“It was tiny. We could’ve fit the whole place into one of the bed­rooms at our old house.”

But the Tates knew the derelict build­ing could be a dream home and thanks to in­ge­nious de­sign and their at­ten­tion to de­tail it has proved to be just that.

Part of its success is down to its sen­sa­tional lo­ca­tion. The pump sta­tion, now re­named The Boathouse, over­looks the River Wharfe in a peace­ful, pri­vate spot close to Wetherby that is teem­ing with wildlife.

The rest is down to a clever con­ver­sion and ex­ten­sions car­ried out with the help of Leeds-based Beech­wood Builders.

“We’d never done any­thing on this scale, though we’d al­ways mod­i­fied houses to get them how we wanted and we are both quite prac­ti­cal,” says Muriel.

“We hadn’t planned on down­siz­ing quite so much ei­ther, but we knew we wanted some­thing up to date with all mod cons and this gave us the chance of get­ting ex­actly what we wanted.”

At first, they cre­ated a liv­ing space on the ground floor and slept down in the base­ment. They later added an ex­ten­sion that vir­tu­ally dou­bled the size of the prop­erty and this was fol­lowed by a stun­ning, oak-framed garden room.

Ray, who sourced the oak from Wales, de­signed the frame. The re­sult is a large, light-filled sit­ting area with views over the river.

The big­gest chal­lenge they faced when they bought the Boathouse in 1998 was flood­ing, which they over­came af­ter wak­ing up to find the base­ment cov­ered in two inches of water.

They had the room tanked, sealed and painted with a poly­mer sealant to pro­vide a wa­ter­proof skin. There is a water pump un­der the floor and they re­placed the door on to the river­bank with a sub­ma­rine-style door.

“We found that at a marine spe­cial­ists in Nor­wich,” says Ray. “We are the first peo­ple to use it for a domestic ap­pli­ca­tion. It’s usu­ally used in boats.”

The thick rub­ber seal has en­sured that the room with­stands the worst the Wharfe has to of­fer.

The door isn’t the only in­spired touch.

The house is filled with Ray’s ideas and in­ven­tions, in­clud­ing the fire door to the well dis­guised shower room off the liv­ing area, which is also sound­proof.

He also packed the prop­erty with in­su­la­tion and two wood burn­ing stoves, which means it costs very lit­tle to heat.

His great­est cre­ation is the “bed in a box” in the din­ing room. It is low­ered into po­si­tion at night with yachting ca­bles and marine blocks. Dur­ing the day it is winched to ceil­ing height and se­cured with bolts that con­nect to down­lighters in the base of the bed. “We thought of a bed in the floor or in the wall, but a bed in the roof was the best idea, though peo­ple said it couldn’t be done. We worked out a way,” says Muriel.

There is a slid­ing wardrobe to hide clothes and clut­ter and con­cealed stor­age above the tongue and groove ceil­ing boards built into the pitch of the roof.

Ray also cre­ated an in­ter­nal air cir­cu­la­tion sys­tem to keep the house warm. It en­sures that heat cre­ated by the log burn­ing stoves moves ef­fi­ciently round the space, while the air stays fresh.

The use of colo­nial-style shut­ter doors, neu­tral decor and con­cealed light­ing also means that the three rooms up­stairs can be sep­a­rated or opened to cre­ate one huge area that is per­fect for par­ties. Fur­ni­ture is also multi- func­tional and in­cludes a tiny con­sole ta­ble that folds out to seat eight.

“The space is very flex­i­ble and there is a great sense of space. The din­ing room can be a bed­room and so can the garden room thanks to a sofa bed, which is good when peo­ple come to stay and, of course, there is a bed­room down­stairs,” says Ray.

The last project was to set out the garden.

To the rear is Grange Park, orig­i­nally the site of a grand coun­try man­sion. The man­sion was de­mol­ished in the 1960s but the out­build­ings were con­verted in the late 1990s into in­di­vid­ual houses, apart­ments and park­land.

At the front, there are ter­races and seat­ing ar­eas over­look­ing the river.

“We love this place more than any­where we’ve lived. There’s some­thing very sooth­ing about liv­ing by the water. I stand on the deck­ing with a cup of cof­fee and watch the king­fish­ers and I think how won­der­ful it is to be here,” says Muriel.

“We’ve also had ot­ters re­cently, which is amaz­ing.”

The lo­ca­tion makes it dou­bly dif­fi­cult for the cou­ple to em­bark on an­other down­siz­ing ex­er­cise.

“We are sell­ing to free up some eq­uity so we can travel more and, as we are get­ting older, we feel this is the time to do it while we still can,” says Muriel.

Fam­ily and friends won’t be sur­prised to hear that they still aren’t quite ready to take the easy op­tion.

“We’d quite like an­other project,” says Muriel. “We en­joyed this one, we’re still pretty fit and it will stop us get­ting lazy.”

Beech­wood Builders, tel: 07774 668090.

RIVER VIEWS: The Boathouse over­looks a peace­ful stretch of the River Wharfe, near Wetherby, top. In­side, the prop­erty has flex­i­ble liv­ing space, above cen­tre, and a host of clever de­sign so­lu­tions which in­clude a bed that can be winched up to the ceil­ing to give more room, above left. The garden room, above right, can be­come a bed­room thanks to the sofa bed.

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