Vic­to­rian coun­try house with an award-win­ning new look

This home near Scarborough has ben­e­fited from an ar­chi­tect’s hand and an artist’s touch. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

AL­THOUGH the prop­erty brochure for Leb­ber­ston Hall stated “in need of mod­erni­sa­tion”, nei­ther the es­tate agent nor the ven­dor could have imag­ined just how far the new own­ers would go.

“The idea was to build a very mod­ern house from scratch, but this has turned out bet­ter,” says Shirley Vau­velle. “It’s now very con­tem­po­rary, but it has that sense of his­tory.”

She and her fam­ily swapped their rus­tic farm­house in Hud­der­s­field for the Vic­to­rian coun­try house, near Scarborough, even though it ticked all the wrong boxes.

Their search area was Leeds and they wanted a build­ing plot not a ren­o­va­tion, but es­tate agent Si­mon Blyth, who sold their old home, per­suaded them to view af­ter spot­ting the hall’s charms.

“I fell in love with the feel of it. It needed a lot of work, but the house and the gar­den had amaz­ing po­ten­tial,” says Shirley, an artist.

They had al­ready iden­ti­fied ar­chi­tect Ric Blenkharn, of Bramhall Blenkharm in Mal­ton, as the right man to cre­ate their dream home. He came up with a rad­i­cal plan to turn the gloomy rab­bit war­ren of rooms into an ul­tra-con­tem­po­rary, light-filled home.

This in­volved re­con­fig­ur­ing all the in­ter­nal space and cre­at­ing two ex­ten­sions to the house, which Scarborough Coun­cil plan­ning of­fi­cials agreed to. Two ex­ist­ing garages and a sta­ble were con­verted into a spa­cious, open kitchen with a glass wall over­look­ing a court­yard on one side and a fea­ture pond on the other.

On the other side of the house, a two-storey high room was cre­ated where the orig­i­nal lean-to kitchen had been. An out­dated con­ser­va­tory was re­placed with a glass orangery and the bay win­dows, which they dis­cov­ered weren’t sup­port­ing the house at all, were re­placed with large floor to ceil­ing ver­sions.

The work started in May 2004 and ended in Oc­to­ber 2005 and the prop­erty, which is now al­most dou­ble its orig­i­nal size, has six bed­rooms and five bath­rooms, two enor­mous sit­ting rooms, the orangery, a games room, study and the kitchen din­ing area down­stairs.

“At one point there were just four walls left,” says Shirley, a mixed me­dia artist, who has added some of her own touches, in­clud­ing her paint­ings, sculp­tures and ce­ram­ics.

“I was also very keen to in­tro­duce a lot of tex­tures. I trained and worked in tex­tiles so cre­at­ing a tac­tile el­e­ment to the house was very im­por­tant.”

The enor­mous con­crete fire­place in the sit­ting room was her idea, re­fined by Ric.

“The win­dows in the ex­ten­sion re­ally brought the light and the views of the gar­den into the house,” says Shirley.

“But it still looked like a large box in there, so I sug­gested cre­at­ing a fire­place which stretched right up through the two storeys. It was Ric who sug­gested us­ing con­crete, but it had to be done in sec­tions to pre­vent it crack­ing.”

The kitchen units were im­ported from Bel­gium and the work top is sec­tions of Basaltino (lava rock), which weighed more than two tonnes.

“Orig­i­nally the kitchen was go­ing to be on one level, un­til a friend said it would end up look­ing like a com­mu­nity cen­tre,” says Shirley. “That was when I de­cided to in­clude a step, to break up the space and define the ar­eas.”

There weren’t many pe­riod fea­tures left in the early 19th cen­tury prop­erty when they bought it, but they sal­vaged what they could, in­clud­ing the main stair­case. The old cel­lar steps were left ex­posed, along with a safe in the hall­way. The pantry un­derneath the main stair­case was con­verted into a snug with rough stone steps and curved walls.

The build and dec­o­ra­tion costs for the prop­erty were slightly more than ex­pected, not least be­cause Whitby her­ring­bone stone had to be used to build the ex­ten­sion at the back, but it has been worth ev­ery penny ac­cord­ing to Shirley.

The light-filled home, which won “Best One-Off House” at the national LABC awards, has helped in­spire her work and prompted greater suc­cess.

“I turned the fam­ily room into a stu­dio and the light is just amaz­ing. I use the plants in the gar­den in my work and I also col­lect drift wood and other pieces from the beach, which is close by,” she says.

Af­ter eight years, she is sell­ing to down­size now her two el­dest sons have grown-up, but it is with much sad­ness.

“I know I’ll never have an­other stu­dio like this but I’m hop­ing to find some­thing smaller and I’d like to do some­thing sim­i­lar to this. I’d like to take an old house and make it lighter and more mod­ern. I can def­i­nitely see my­self knock­ing a few walls down.”

www.shirley­vau­; Bramhall Blenkharn, www.*Leb­ber­ston Hall is for sale for £995,000 with Carter Jonas, tel: 01904 558200, www. carter­ It has an en­trance hall, sit­ting room , fam­ily room, games room, study, kitchen break­fast room, gar­den room, mas­ter bed­room with en suite bath­room and walk-in wardrobe, five fur­ther bed­rooms, three with en suites, a bath­room, base­ment, work­shop, gar­dens with pond three acres.

UL­TRA-CON­TEM­PO­RARY: This stun­ning trans­for­ma­tion of a Vic­to­rian coun­try house has cre­ated a light-filled, mod­ern home full of char­ac­ter. The gar­dens in­clude a large pond that adds to the tran­quil­ity of the sur­round­ings.

LIGHT FAN­TAS­TIC: The house, and its stu­dio filled with nat­u­ral light, has helped in­form and in­spire Shirley Vau­velle’s work.

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