This month marks 25 years since the magazine – then known as Individual Homes – was formed. To celebrate, the Homebuilding & Renovating team look back on their favourite projects from the last 25 years.
The Moated Manor
Michael Holmes, Content Director (image above)
My favourite home from my 24 years working on HB&R has to be Braylsham Castle in Sussex, as much for the remarkable story behind its creation as for the house itself.
I was working at the National Homebuilding & Renovating Show back in the early 1990s when an already sexagenarian John Mew approached me with a postcard depicting a watercolour of a fairytale Medieval castle, set on a moated island complete with drawbridge, which he then proclaimed he was going to build.
When several years later John reappeared on the stand clutching a photograph of the completed masterpiece, identical to the postcard in almost every detail, I was awestruck at what he had created.
The project is a triumphant manifestation of the spirit of self build — an Englishman creating his own castle, after a prolonged battle with the planners.
The Highland Remodel
Daisy Jeffery, Features Editor
I first came across Alan and Linda’s house when I was tasked with laying out the case study. The first thing I remember thinking was ‘wow!’ Never has a house left me so stunned as this contemporary gem created by visionary architect Alastair MacIntrye of Scotland-based practice McInnes Gardner.
As far as I’m concerned, what Alastair has created is the epitome of contemporary design done well — and to think this home started life as a pretty boring red-brick bungalow (albeit on a spectacular loch-facing plot). The jewel in the crown is the gravity-defying glazed viewing pod that cantilevers out over the rear elevation, allowing for views out towards the loch and mountains beyond.
A Country Renovation
Natasha Brinsmead, Associate Editor
So often we see projects which have been unsympathetically renovated, however this has to be one of my favourites — a shining example of how to do a renovation well.
The main house has been renovated with a two storey extension. The owners were adamant from the start that they would not use anything in the main construction of the property that wouldn’t have been available to the original builders in the 16th century, learning skills required along the way where necessary.
With its picture-perfect setting, light-filled interiors and abundance of weathered materials, this is a home that in every way displays the skills, determination and commitment of its owners.
The Contemporary Barn
Simon Maxwell, photographer
I was on the M4 at stupid o’clock and the rain came down. I was due to shoot one of the shortlisted Daily Telegraph Homebuilding & Renovating Awards homes 120 miles away in two and half hours’ time and it wasn’t looking good. I needn’t have worried — the clouds above Martin Hall and Kelly Bednarczyk’s architectural gem, The Nook, politely parted to enable me to get the exterior shots I was after and then the rain returned while I was shooting the interiors.
Working my way around the building in the morning with Martin was a fascinating process. I always like to talk to the owners if possible before the shoot (a process we often record on video) as the elements they like to focus on or explain can often dictate how I approach things.
For me, Martin and Kelly have achieved a rare fusion, a striking and architecturally valid project which also impresses as a warm and inviting home: two characteristics which do not always appear in the same description! Award-winning design and real life under the same roof? Yes, it can be done!
Renovated and Extended Farmhouse
Claire Lloyd, Deputy Editor
From a home built almost entirely by its owner for £95,000, to a squat-looking Georgian brick build transformed into an oak frame Tudor-style manor, the projects I’ve had the pleasure of viewing have been testament to the ‘broad church’ embraced by Homebuilding & Renovating.
Sarah and Richard Hayes’ home was no exception. The couple had unified a derelict farmhouse and an adjacent barn to create a home representing the best of old and new — heavily beamed rooms in the old house, combined with high vaulted spaces containing acres of glazing in the contemporary extension that stands on the footprint of the rundown barn.
From the ancient timber trusses that once held up the roof of the old barn, reinstated against smooth plaster in the new extension, to the circulation space specifically designed to house the couple’s ‘75m-long collection of books’, this home is filled to the brim with unique touches. I could easily picture curling up with a book and watching the changing skies through the full-height glazing.
Daisy Jeffery, Features Editor
Driving down quiet, tree-lined streets on a sunny day in June it felt like I was out in the countryside, not a stone’s throw from Leicester city centre. Yet this fortunate spot is where Nils and Lisa Feldmann found their grand Victorian home.
What Nils and Lisa have achieved here is what so many strive to do but so often fail at — marrying a period building with a modern extension and contemporary features. Fortunately, Nils is a RIBA Award-winning architect and his vision for the home has resulted in a consistent and extraordinary level of detail to restore the home’s period features while adding not one, but two modern flat roof extensions to the Victorian property.
The Feldmanns have purposefully created a defined line between the old and new elements. To painstakingly restore a property of this size with such enthusiasm is truly commendable, and to add two striking extensions which contrast with the existing yet work so well really does make this project such a success — so much so that the home won an award from the Federation of Master Builders this year.
An Organic Self build
Jason Orme, Editor
Darren Bray, one of the architects at PAD Studio, the team behind this scheme, talks a lot about contextualism — the idea that an individual house should only really be perfect for its unique setting, and no other.
PAD’s New Forest house, which we featured a few years ago, is the epitome of that philosophy. It took modern shapes, materials and spaces but planted them in a firmly natural setting, showing how contemporary design can really be the perfect solution even for the most sensitive of locations.
PAD Studio have gone on to be one of my favourite practices and I trust Darren’s judgement on design. How lucky the owners were.
A Renovated Ruin
Claire Lloyd, Deputy Editor
Reviewing our favourite homes from the last 25 years of Homebuilding & Renovating was rather revelatory. For me, a trend quickly emerged — and that was a preference for homes that successfully combine old and new.
Alex and Seonaid Maclean-Bristol’s project takes the notion of old meets new to another level. The starting point was a Georgian ruin; the house was originally built by the Maclean of Coll clan to accommodate guests.
The Maclean-Bristol’s new home, designed by WT Architecture, partially inhabits the old ruin, and features a new contemporary wing; the two are connected by a glazed link. The wing sits subservient to its predecessor, but draws on a similar palette of natural materials (namely stone reused from the site) and reworks them for the 21st century. Inside this highly sustainable home, glazing has been painstaking placed so as to capture the rugged vista. And the views… well, they need no explaining.
The Modern Cottage
Jason Orme, Editor
Talk about modern character! What was so exciting about this house back in the early 2000s was the juxtaposition of charming old cottage and remarkable modern interior — something rarely seen back then, when so many renovators were aiming to recreate period charm.
What made it extra special was that this was a million miles away from contemporary design by rote — it was daring, exciting and, crucially, full of character and warmth. All of the people who hated contemporary design at the time loved this home, and rightly so.
It has everything — and who can fail to enjoy the glazed internal courtyard.
Beach House Masterpiece
Alistair Nicholls, photographer
My favourite house is a renovation of a 1960s beach house in Shoreham by Sea. The original house had a floating butterfly roof that the owners retained. However, everything else was new — from the façade to new upside-down layout (with a first floor living room framing the wonderful sea view), to the clever spatial arrangement.
I’m often inspired by interiors but this was really special — not only was the architecture striking but the furnishings, joinery and materials all worked beautifully together. I could definitely have lived there!
The Seaside Retreat
Nigel Rigden, photographer
Picking a favourite house was harder than I thought it would be and I probably ended up taking it far too seriously, but at the end of the day the name Stan Bolt kept popping to the surface.
For an all-round package it has to be Battery Hill. This house has so much going for it — crisp clean lines, big light spaces, glass floors, a real sense of the outside and inside merging into one, plus that feeling of modernism that I associate with the British seaside.
For me, this house represents how I would like to live if I were a much tidier person than I actually am and it has my favourite feature: the infinity swimming pool — you wouldn’t get me out of that in a hurry.