THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
An industrial-style extension adds a contemporary edge to a traditional farmhouse
Having already renovated a cottage, Eleanor Meeks thought she was prepared for anything this new project could throw at her.
She and her partner had bought a traditional tile-hung and brick property in a country setting, edged with mature trees and backing on to open fields. It had the potential to be gorgeous, but, explains Eleanor, ‘A family had been living there for more than 50 years and the house was in desperate need of attention. It was certainly the challenge I was looking for!
‘You could actually put your hand through some of the internal walls where the lathe and plaster had crumbled,’ she says. ‘And then, when we took the wallpaper off the ceiling in the main bedroom, it all came crashing down!’
Originally a two-up, two-down cottage dating back to the 1650s, the house was added to in Georgian times and had a low-ceilinged kitchen and pantry at the side. ‘Our original plan was to extend the kitchen out into the garden, until a friend suggested the more radical idea of converting a dilapidated outbuilding at the rear into a large kitchen/living space,’ says Eleanor.
Working closely with the local planning department, the couple came up with a sympathetic, industrial-influenced design that reflected the building’s previous incarnation as a workshop.
‘Today, the exterior is clad in oak boards that will fade to a silvery grey, with a corrugated
aluminium roof, inspired by farm buildings in the area,’ says Eleanor. Eight factory-style metal and glazed doors also run along the length of the back wall, maximising the glorious view of fields and trees. With matching windows on three other sides and a lofty ceiling that follows the line of the rafters, this vast, double-height room feels wonderfully light and spacious.
The deliberately plain and functional feel is lifted with bold bursts of colour, including a large, red Smeg fridge in one corner. A long rectangle of plywood with an eyecatching yellow surface resting on wooden trestles serves as the dining table and is surrounded by an eclectic assortment of mismatched country chairs – old and new, painted and bare. ‘I didn’t want a ‘finished’ look. It wouldn’t have suited the space at all,’ says Eleanor. ‘I think that using traditional materials and mixing old with new fits the room perfectly and gives us the best of both worlds.’
Over in the far corner, a contemporary, L-shaped, grey sofa and comfortable old armchair are drawn up invitingly close to the woodburning stove. This snug spot, liberally scattered with cushions, vintage Welsh blankets and the odd sheepskin throw, is where the family loves to watch films. ‘We pretty much live in the kitchen extension now and barely venture into the rest of the house, except to sleep,’ says Eleanor.
With all that glass, underfloor heating was installed beneath the stylish concrete floor to keep the room at a perfect temperature, and
it continues into the old part of the house via a vernacular-style hall. Here, oak floorboards have been treated with a mix of Swedish Osmo oil mixed with a little greyish-blue paint. The tones work well in the low-ceilinged sitting room with its traditional inglenook fireplace, exposed beams and leaded-light windows. ‘We’ve used darker colours in here to make the room feel more cosy,’ Eleanor explains.
She’s also filled the room with bespoke lighting courtesy of the lampshades she’s covered with eyecatching fabrics, including her favourite vintage Sanderson florals, and the striking glass lamp bases she makes from large jars and bottles found at flea markets.
In the main bedroom, soft, linen bedding in muted shades from The Linen Press contrasts with the zingy lime yellow colour above the picture rail, which enhances the low light coming from the small leaded windows.
The bathroom required a more thorough overhaul, so elegant, vintage-style fittings were sourced to complement a rolltop bath snapped up on Ebay, with a basin resting on an old chest of drawers and an antique mirror adding to the vintage feel.
Downstairs is a wet room where Victorianstyle encaustic floor tiles in a swirling blue and grey pattern are teamed with crisp white Metro wall tiles, echoing the successful mix of old and new, contemporary and traditional. ‘Each part has its own appeal,’ says Eleanor, ‘and we get to enjoy the best of both worlds.’
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COLOUR FOCUS A world map and zingy yellow chair create a fun look in the boys’ room WET ROOM Just off the hall is a wet room that continues the traditional-meetscontemporary theme with Victorian-style encaustic floor tiles and crisp white Metro wall...
MAIN BEDROOM In the main bedroom, a bold burst of bright yellow lifts a neutral colour scheme and enhances the light BATHROOM The rolltop bath was an Ebay find
CUPBOARD An old wardrobe works well with the stripped, painted floorboards and vintage lamp