“Our home and business are inextricably linked, so the farmhouse is constantly evolving,” begins Victoria. Since they moved into the dilapidated estate house more than 20 years ago, the couple have renovated the house throughout and converted disused outbuildings into a gallery, studio, offices and workshop.
“It worked well at first, but as the business grew and we had a family, we realised we needed more private space,” says Victoria. With this in mind, the couple decided to take on their biggest project to date — a large extension which would transform the way they live.
- The homeowners: Robert and Victoria Fuller
- Location: Thixendale, near Malton, North Yorkshire
- Project: Extended and remodelled Georgian farmhouse
- Build time: September 2012 – September 2014; exterior works completed 2016
- House cost: Already owned
- Build cost: £60,000 for extension; £80,000 for office extension and en suite bathroom conversion
A Challenging Planning Process
Planning proved to be a huge hurdle, however, even though the house is not listed. The Fullers originally applied to build a large, two-storey extension to the side of the property to create a spacious sitting room with en suite bedroom above.
It was, the couple thought, a straightforward application: the house is not overlooked and there were no objections from the locals. Yet it took three long years, a series of rejections from their district council and some radical redesigns to the original plans, before approval was finally granted.
“We spent £20,000 trying to get the plans passed,” says Victoria. “We did everything we could to make it work, from changing the pitch of the roof to altering the height and size of the extension, but they still said it would be too dominant in relation to the original house. What we really struggled with was that we couldn’t get anyone to actually come and look at the site. It was incredibly frustrating.”
Forced to rethink their plans, the Fullers managed to get permission for a new two-storey office and art studio at the back of the house, which freed up space adjacent to the main house for a new en suite bedroom.
“In the end it turned out much better than we had hoped. The council is keen to encourage rural businesses so they looked favourably on the office extension. They also agreed to a single-storey extension at the other end of the house, which is now a large open plan sitting room,” says Victoria.
A Phased Approach
Even though they were both immersed in the business and, by this time, had two young children, Victoria and Robert decided to project manage the building work. They employed a local builder, who had helped them to renovate the house, to build the foundations for both extensions at the same time. The work set them back an unexpected £40,000. “We hadn’t budgeted for the fact that the office is built into the hillside to the back of the house, and needed shoring up.
The land is on solid chalk, but a specialist company still had to reinforce the hillside with steel and concrete,” says Robert. “We started building in the middle of a recession but we didn’t want to postpone the build in case the planning permission ran out. Once we’d started we just had to keep going.”
Once the office was built, Victoria and Robert turned their attention to the house, dividing up Robert’s former studio into an additional gallery space and an en suite bedroom. “We wanted to pace ourselves so that we could fund all the building work as we went along.”
“The size was dictated by the scale of a corner sofa, which we had specially made, and a large dining table. We also wanted to use natural materials – plenty of wood and stone – to reflect the rural location.”
The extension has almost doubled the ground floor family space and creates a large, open plan link to the original dining kitchen. The blockwork extension was straightforward to build — the challenge came in the sourcing of materials, including reclaimed bricks to match the original house and vast A-frame oak timbers for the vaulted ceiling.
Steel lintels over the windows and doors have been disguised with timber facing, and the stone fireplace has been positioned off-centre to create space for the bespoke corner sofa.