“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.

Georgian farmhouse before being extended

The farmhouse before the renovation and extension

The Project

  • 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.”

£60k blockwork extension with oak frame vaulted ceiling

The new single-storey extension has created a much needed open plan living and dining space. The Fullers wanted their extension to reflect the rural location and historic character of the original building, so they spent months researching to find the right building materials

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.

Exterior of the single storey extension

Trying to find reclaimed bricks for the extension of a similar style and era was challenging. Eventually they found 8,000 bricks that had come from a series of farm buildings in rural Lincolnshire

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.” 

Living room with oak frame vaulted ceiling

The Fullers decided against installing bifold doors in their extension for good reason — they live in a valley and the winds are often strong, so there are very few days in a year when they can open the room up to the elements, and so they chose fixed double-glazed windows and single doors instead 

“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.

Four poster bed in extension of Georgian farmhouse

The main bedroom was one of the original rooms in the house which was renovated shortly after the couple moved in. By rethinking their plans for the house, the Fullers were able to create a new en suite bedroom in an area that used to be office and studio space

Georgian Farmhouse with single storey extension

The Georgian farmhouse after the extension

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