“When friends and family walk into our new home, they find it strangely familiar,” laughs Louise. “I’m quite sentimental, and we copied various details from the old house where I grew up.”
Louise and her husband, Simon, had both grown up in the countryside, and when they started a family of their own they decided to leave their flat in London and move out to the country.
“Simon inherited a run-down house with 68 acres of land from his aunt” Louise continues. “The house stood in a really beautiful and secluded country setting, but combined all the worst elements of boxy 1970s architecture.”
Nestled in a wooded valley near Salisbury, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the artificial stone house was too small for Simon, Louise and their children, ten-year-old Joe, and Miranda, eight. Instead, they designed a replacement four bedroom home which combines the charm of a traditional farmhouse with modern technology, such as a sprinkler system and a ground-source heat pump powering the underfloor heating.
“We needed to rent during the build, so speed was important to us, and after visiting self-build shows for inspiration we chose to use a Potton timber frame,” says Simon. The couple worked with an in-house designer to develop a totally bespoke design based on the company’s Rectory range, incorporating fine casement windows and a sweeping feature staircase.
Despite the fact that this was their first self-build, the couple decided to jointly manage the project, and undertook a great deal of the work themselves, such as laying floors and decorating. Louise researched products and materials whilst Simon liaised with Building Control and the various subcontractors.
Once the foundations and slab were completed to precise dimensions, the timber frame was delivered and erected by Potton in just two-and-a-half weeks. A family team of builders were employed to finish off the interiors, including carpentry, with another family team of specialist bricklayers working on the exterior finishes.
Such attention to detail shines through in the finished house, which was built using high-quality natural materials and incorporates a number of bespoke features. “We’re so fortunate to live in such a beautiful home,” Louise concludes.
Careful Brick Detailing
Louise’s father is the chairman of the York Handmade Brick Company, and supplied 20,000 specially selected Lindum Blend Bricks for the project. Louise knew exactly the look she wanted and how to achieve it. Dentil work on the parapet, chimney and string course, plinth surrounds, pilasters on the south-facing elevation, sloping cants on the window cills and traditional chamfered quoins all helped to create a look that blends well with its country setting.
“We took particular care with the brick detail because, as Dad has always told me, ‘The bricks are about 5% of the cost but 75% of the look’,” Louise explains. “Personally, I think new brickwork needs breaking up with interesting details. The chamfered quoins presented a particular challenge, and it took eight special bricks to make each one.
NB: Louise and Simon’s home won the inaugural Kingspan Potton Dream Home Award in 2011.