A Remodelled 70s Architect Designed House

The drive down from Glasgow the night before had been a long one, so it was great that Friday’s first house was just round the corner from our guesthouse in St Annes where we had overnighted.

We arrived at a pair of impressive contemporary style gates, reached via a private road from what is apparently the most desirable road in the whole of the Fylde Peninsular.

They swung open to reveal a house that mixes 70s architecture – one and a half storey design with asymmetrical roof – with contemporary external materials: horizontal timber boards, large floor to ceiling windows, panels of natural stone and grey powder coated aluminium trim emphasising the roofline and first floor level.

A clever remodel of an original 1970s one-off architect designed house, the building has retained its original angular form, and much of its layout and structure, but has been given a new contemporary exterior that has given it a new lease of life: many would simply have knocked it down and started again.

Inside, contemporary design touches have been mixed with the best of the original 1970s details. On entering, timber blinkers – thin vertical sections of polished wood like the dividers of an open shelving system, screen any view into the open plan living space to the right.

As you enter and your line of sight aligns with the blinkers, the room is gradually revealed: a simple but clever way to separate public and private space.
The living room has been opened up into the kitchen dining room – one of the few major changes to the original layout, but one that ensures a strong link between inside and out via large floor to ceiling windows, creating views across both front and rear gardens.

In the living space, the original floor to ceiling in-wall speakers have been retained and recovered in a 70s style textured fabric – although the sounds now come from a new Bose multi room system. A modern, slightly shorter take on 70s shagpile carpet adds a lovely warmth to the room.

In the hallway, large 70s downlighters have been retained in the ceiling and restored, supplemented by modern recessed directional downlighters.

The original open tread staircase has been restored and brought up to date with steel tension wired balustrading. The piece de resistance, however, is the original leopard skin wallpaper on one wall in the hallway – the ultimate in cool 70s retro chic.

A Transformed 30s Brick Bungalow

The second house of the day was another clever remodel, this time in Preston, and this time involving the total transformation of a very ordinary 1930s red brick bungalow. Its architect owner wanted to create something individual but with only a modest budget and so the starting point was a smallish and unfashionable property worth £60,000.

The bungalow is still in there if you look for it, roof, Accrington brick walls and all, but has had two almost symmetrical monopitched timber and steel wings grafted into it, forming a sort of flattened M-shaped profile, increasing the footprint considerably whilst also totally disguising the building’s original form.

With large windows and horizontal timber board cladding, the rear elevation in particular is very striking. It might have been more space efficient to have rebuilt the roof entirely and link up the two monopitch roof planes to create a very large usable roofspace for little extra cost, but the planners were concerned about the increase in massing, and so it was not to be.

The bulk of the new space forms a semi open plan living room, with a tall vaulted ceiling and large expanses of glazing looking over the rear garden.

This opens onto a new corridor hallway, which links the master bedroom at the front, the central semi open plan dining room, and the kitchen, all of which are located within the original bungalow.

These spaces have all been linked by cutting large doorway openings into the bungalow’s external brick walls – some of which have been left visible as an internal feature.

Upstairs the small attic space above the original bungalow has been converted to form a home office and living room, reached via a very elegant timber and steel staircase.

There are some really clever design ideas in this project, and the owners have worked incredibly hard by doing much of the work themselves on a DIY basis, also helping to constrain costs.

A Classic Oak Framed Farmhouse

The last house of day was a classic oak framed, half-timbered house on a large rural plot near Sandbach, Cheshire, built in place of an old farm bungalow.

With the exposed oak frame already silvering and the self-coloured render infill panels beginning to age, and Staffordshire blue plain clay tiles on the roof, this very traditional style house is already beginning to look established within its setting and will soon blend in seamlessly with the fabric of the landscape.

A classic self-build project, the house was designed for its owners by T.J. Crump and Oakwrights, using traditional green oak construction techniques, upgraded to introduce 21st century levels of insulation between the oak framework to create a modern energy efficient structure.

If you like exposed beams, trusses and ledged and braced doors, then you will love this house’s interiors, which exude a natural warmth and character. The kitchen breakfast room is a classic farmhouse style affair with a vaulted ceiling and exposed oak trusses, and a range style cooker set into an inglenook at one end, and simple painted shaker style units and wooden table and chairs.

The living room is large and features an inglenook fireplace, and a very attractive glazed ‘sunroom’ section where the oak studs have been infilled using double glazed units.

Like many of the houses in this year’s awards, this one has been designed for flexible living, with a bedroom and full bathroom on the ground floor, in addition to those upstairs. Also in common with several other projects, it is occupied by a multi-generational household, a feature we are very likely to see more of in the years ahead.

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