Plastering done, the project is transitioning from building site to house — and with it our mood brightens. We can see what we’re getting, where the investment is going, and we’re beginning to imagine what life here will be like after the remodel is complete.
Amending our Design
During the remodel we decided to amend our design to make more of the fabulous hallway and landing space we’d be creating. This involved moving the stairs from their poky and complex location at the back of the hallway to a more central position in a straight flight.
This, and our concurrent decision to knock a hole in the wall between our front living room and the hallway to insert a fixed glazed panel, were pretty much entirely aesthetically led — but critical for us in terms of getting what we wanted.
Jason’s remodel project is nearing completion with windows
and the new oversized front door fitted
One of the many design problems the house presented was the tiny size of the landing and the dark and miserable hallway. I also felt that, in design terms, the internal feel of the house would be best served by having long architectural views through its length. It is a wide house, and you never really got a sense of it before.
The statement design choices found us attempting to tap into the 1969 origins of the house and bring out a mid-century vibe. Additionally Sarah, my wife, was keen to counterbalance my modern design-isms and ensure we had a cosy, warm, family home. Hence — lots of wood.
The staircase was obviously a critical part of the new home and we wanted something ‘wow’ but also ideally ‘cheap’. Working with Ben Schuck, our builder, and the local joinery firm, we designed a staircase in sapele that would have the spindles reaching from handrail to floor.
As an added bonus, it provides a useful under-stair area.
Jason worked with his builder, Ben Schuck, to design a bespoke staircase with spindles running from the floor to the handrail
This was achieved for around £2,500, including the fitting by Ben and his merry team. Ben also suggested the fixed glazed panel between the hallway and front living room. Framed in sapele, it’s a fabulous feature — and a great example of builders being actively involved in making homes better.
The Front Door
An oversized front door is part of the design language of modern homes these days. With a 6m-high entrance tower, anything else would have looked perfunctory to say the least. We used a talented local joiner, Philip Harding, to build us a new solid front door finished in the same RAL colour as our lovely aluminium windows (from Velfac). It looks beautiful and came in at a significant saving on the big door manufacturers in this field.
One of the other major design problems we encountered in this remodel project was the kitchen — it was pretty small and not terribly functional.
The new kitchen island extends into the old rear living room.
We were knocking some walls down anyway to create a large open kitchen/dining/living room (along with, it seems, the rest of the population) and wanted to come up with a kitchen layout that didn’t dominate this new space, which is around 11m long and 4.5m wide (up to 8m in parts).
In the end, we fed the kitchen island out into the old rear living room so that it clearly became part of this space, but in the overall scheme of things we’ve been restrained in terms of units.
We converted an old walk-in cupboard into a pantry, and decided against wall units. We chose units from Benchmarx, appliances from AEG and, perhaps most importantly from a tactile-design-quality perspective, a tap and sink combination from Blanco — all give plenty of design appeal, I think.
So much of kitchen design concentrates on the big picture, when in actual fact it’s the weight of well-made taps and the sharp sink design, as much as the unit doors, that makes a difference on a day-to-day basis.