Angus and Nicola Waddington’s new house was always destined to be something special. The couple are both architects – running their own practice in County Armagh – and together designed an award-winning family home for themselves and their children, Reuben (eight), Isaac (six) and three-year-old Frances. Not only is the self-build set within stunning scenery, but it’s also carbon neutral — producing all its own energy needs.
“We considered taking on a renovation project, but then realised it made far more sense to build a new house,” Nicola recalls. “After looking at a number of plots in Ulster, we found this one and instantly loved it.”
The 0.8-acre south-west-facing site is situated in peaceful farmland with far-reaching views, and is bounded by an ancient stone wall and mature beech trees. “It’s quite a windy site, however, so the house was designed in an L-shape to create a sheltered courtyard,” explains Angus.
The L-shaped home benefits from two staircases, one of which is contained in the white-rendered tower, topped by an oak and glass lookout point. “The tower gives the house its identity, and looks beautiful when it’s lit up at night,” says Nicola.
Local building contractor William Bell, who was recommended to the Waddingtons, was asked to produce a fixed contract for the basic structure, while elements such as the kitchen, bathrooms, tiling and flooring were subcontracted to specialist companies.
The couple chose black basalt for the gable ends, which was laid by stonemasons in traditional courses and has been mixed with lighter-coloured stone taken from the surrounding fields. The stone stands out in strong relief against the white-rendered walls.
Inside, a dramatic double-height semi-glazed space contains the main living room, but there’s also a separate playroom and a smaller, self-contained snug — designed for winter days. A sleek open plan kitchen/dining area, with an unheated utility-cum-larder, which is ideal for storing food, lies in the centre.
Upstairs, the guest bedroom, three children’s bedrooms and a family bathroom are separated from the master bedroom by an internal bridge running through the top-lit hall, while a long gallery leads to the library balcony, overlooking the main living space. “The house was designed to create a series of surprises,” says Angus. “It’s a building full of hiding places and peepholes waiting to be explored — which seems to appeal to adults and children alike.”