I have been involved from an observational aspect with a young couple’s move out to the country to a most interesting conversion. The property originally belonged to a large stately home estate and formed the school and house. It has since been remodelled and the estate itself just has a selection of very expensive looking barn conversions. There’s a small folly type castlelated building there too which has been converted into very high end luxury apartments. The architects have done a simlply fantatic job and it has been heralded in local business papers as a tremendous success. It helped that the main architect had connections with the village and was absolutely sympathetic to the style. There is something wonderful about being able to take a dead village out of mothballs and with finance, breathe new life into the stone cottages and manor houses for new generations to love and cherish.
The manner of obtaining property has changed dramatically from when I was younger, starting on my quest to get on the mortgage ladder. In the day, when ready to fly the family nest, there was the small rented room with shared kitchen and bathroom. These were always easily available and I don’t recall anyone in my crowd ever experiencing problems finding a pad. After a few months of that came a move to a rented flat . All this time you saved like crazy to get the 10% deposit for your first home. Everything came in gradual steps. Today graduates are leaving university confident of buying a home wih their first job. There is much expectation, and frustration when the properties are too dear because of short supply. At least the much lower mortage rate of less than 6% instead of 18-20% from my day, makes paying for it easier once you’ve got that deposit!
There’s a house with the most glorious Art Deco designed interior in the larger town nearest to me. Charles Rennie Mackintosh himself did the entire design down to the wallpapers, choice of carpets, lighting and furniture. It turns out that he was a very good friend of a chap called Basset-Loake, who was making quite a name for himself in the world of model trains and model making on a serious scale. This chap inherited a business from his family and expanded upon it. Basset Loake is still in business today but has taken a diffent form I believe.
It’s this gorgeous house that intrigues me. B-Ls father bought it for his son’s wedding present when he married quite a socialite. Just as celebs today expose all their domestic secrets to Hello magazine, so the BLs were not averse to sharing articles about the fantastic CRM doing their design work even without ever visiting the property!
When you want to have a totally steamlined effect in the house, it has to be a matter going fro room to room and deciding which is the best way – light for reading, or just relaxing by. There is a great deal to be thought about when designing changes to a building. One major thought will concern who is to use the house – is it a family with lots of children needing their own space and places to put their own belongings. Is it a couple with no children but with a miriad of hobbies, sports lifestyles needing masses of storage. Getting to grips with the actual needs of the user of the house is therefore critical and needs an expert in the redesign and decor of all kinds of buildings. That way the best possible use will be made of any and all space available.
Houses are such an important thing in our lives. When we are small all we worry about is whether father Christmas is coming down the chimney this year. Never mind that we don’t actually have a chimney. Most modern houses don’t have a proper old fashioned one, but a flue can be fitted for that all important wood burning stove these days.
The next consideration is about the garden. When we’re small we just want to get out there and get messy – playing with the flower beds, digging up small bucket loads of soil and adding stones to them – innocent fun. When we are gorn up the major thing in our lives after finding Mr or Ms Right, is getting that first house is next. Then of course comes the question of furnishing. But that’s something the parents and extended family can help deal with!
Bonfire night – that wonderful old annual event from years ago – had been overlooked for a few seasons, in favour of that imposter form the states, the Halloween hullabaloo. We used to make reference to haloween of course, there was often a fancy dress party to be attended, with mum’s best efforts to make us the best ghoul, ghostie or witch. Mny a spare sheet got ripped and rearranged to ensure success in the judging.
One year the party was at our house – it was chaotic from the word go. Nowhere for us to put anything, the dressmaking room was out of bounds and no pals could safely dump anything anywhere anymore. A total cabinet refit was in process and Dad had his favourite firm dealing with things. As all business people were able to do then. These days I brose and find my favourite suppliers and providers. Simple.
When a new build is being considered, maybe to replace a crumbling old wreck of a bungalow or old factory, the first port of call, after the financial side of things, will be the building company and their pet architect. Getting ideas of scale, possibilities for the site, possibilities of getting anything at all past the planning department etc. are all matters that these folk are so used to dealing with in their every day business dealings. Nothing fazes them and the business of small build developments thrives on a tightly run network of various trades all coming together to make that dream happen.
Knowing how to achieve these things is half the battle. There are some fantastic companies out there who have worked closely with each other and made dreams come true for so many families. Their knowledge, dedication and committment makes the fee a mere thing of pride. Eventually!
With all the new buildings going up absolutely everywhere, there doesn’t seem so much time to reflect on house design per say. There are massive developments with thousands of properties planned over a phased period, each estate offering some kind of incentive such as a new school, medical centre etc. This prosperity is seen to be what the country wants.
There are smaller one off new builds too, always replacing a previous run down, unloved place. I do wonder sometimes if local planners ever get bored of considering and passing the plans for these quite unexceptional places! It would be great if someone somewhere would just stop a moment and think about an interesting, striking and useful design for a new property, or estate. Just like when the Arts and Crafts Movement got going last century – to bring some beauty into the drabness of the post war housing need.
On a recent visit to a heritage property, I was struck by the simplicity of the kitchen and utility area – it was a very small inner terrace house, which is unusual as most heritage houses are grand mansion types. This one is unique for being the only one in England with the interior designed almost entirely by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Reflecting the 1920s fashion at that time, the kitchen was nothing elaborate but it did have some spectacularly innovative ideas far ahead of it’s time. Electric Kettles, Electric Coffee maker etc. these things weren’t even properly invented and available in the UK at that time.
The bathroom was another notable feature – with modern hot water supply that wouldn’t go amiss today in our quest for future proofing our homes! That is what we have really modern and forward thinking designers and constructors for of course!
When you think about the designs for a new property, it is so tempting to sit down and list all the things you have missed in all your previous properties. These probably start with actual buiding features such as the orientation of the house. When I was planning to move from a previous property, before I even looked at any plans, I had a fixed ist of ‘must have’ items in my mind. It had to have a south facing garden; it had to have room for a vegetable plot in the garden; it had to have nice large double radiators and small windows and not be draughty at all !
The resultant purchase bore no resemblance to this list – my garden is north facing, the house is very cold all the time – oreientation and distinct lack of large double radiators.! Get the essential nitty-gritty sorted early before buying on or off plan!