Parts of West Sussex house Rick and Jenny Knowles’ have renovated have been found to date back to the 1500s. In the past it has seen various uses, including as a college for military officers and a doctor’s surgery.

Rick and Jenny’s aim was to work with the historic fabric of the building while adapting it to suit modern life. A newly formed rear extension has provided a much-needed link to the garden and created a spacious kitchen diner too.

Project Notes

  • Project: Renovation and extension
  • Location:West Sussex
  • Build time: Aug 2014 – Feb 2015
  • Size: 255m2
  • Plot cost: £430,000
  • Build cost: £300,000
  • Value: Unknown
renovated half timbered period home built from brick

From the front, the building appears largely unchanged, although old windows have been replaced with new timber designs. Forge House, as the property is known, is a two-storey building featuring a half-timbered façade. It is situated on a prominent corner in the Storrington Conservation area so retaining the look of the front of the property was important.

Rear Elevation

before image of forge house in West Sussex

At the rear, the old community toilets have been removed and a new extension added in order to provide a spacious kitchen diner with through views to the garden.

   Rear elevation of a renovated period home with open bi fold doors to kitchen diner

Kitchen Diner

The rear has been extended to provide a light, open plan kitchen diner. Glapor, by Ty-Mawr, is a recycled foamed glass gravel that was used as a sub-base for the underfloor heating screed within the new room.

“It was such an elegant solution,” says Rick. “Firstly it was a recycled material, but also the air gaps between the lumps of glass enabled free flow of air to the floor.”

kitchen diner with eclectic modern fittings and bi folds to garden
timber beam opening to modern kitchen diner

Timbers dating back to the 1580s were discovered when stripping back the house — they now frame glazed doors, which provide views through the ground floor.

Living Room

This project was all about combining existing features with modern living — so original doors, fireplaces and mouldings play a big role.

living room with full bookshelves in renovated home
lounge with yellow walls and mounted shelving


This house is a lesson in how to combine old and new elements — here, sleek modern sanitaryware sits alongside an original fireplace and a column radiator.

renovated blue bathroom with black and white floor tiles and walk in shower


Throughout the building there are hints of its previous uses and the changes it has undergone, while cleverly placed windows now bring in much-needed light.

bedroom with Victorian brick fireplace in renovated forge house

Words: Matthew Henderson; Photography: c/o CDMS Architects


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