Thursday, 30 June 2011

A handsome house and a funny story

Just a quickie because I am supposed to be changing the bed for the impending visit from Father in law (and also tweaking the new Border Oak website - getting more and more nervous that people won't like it though....eeek!)
I found these photos today, of a house that we are currently building, and was so tickled by how perfectly proportioned it was I thought I would share. Although it is quite large, it doesn't seem that imposing - more of a friendly face than a fame hungry celebrity I would say.
Its based on a design called Oakapple Court - which has been in our portfolio for about 25 years which I think puts it in the 'enduringly popular' category. And because the basic principles of design are spot on and the materials are the highest quality it will simply get better and better over the next 500 years. Which reminds me of a funny story.....
One of our designers met a planner, conservation officer and highways representative on a sensitive site we are hoping to buy. In the heart of a medieval village, with very delicate surroundings and a colourful history, we knew it would be contentious. When 'debating' the style of proposed homes the planner pointed to a little oak framed cottage next door  and bemoaned how wonderful the original oak frames are in comparison to 'new' houses. The conservation officer agreed and pointed to a range of barn conversions in the distance which he felt were intuitive, sensitive with a distinct sense of craftsmanship. They both felt these houses represented the type of design ethos we should aim for. Our designer tactfully pointed out that we converted the barns 20 years ago and built the perfectly pretty cottage a few years later. 

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

a house in a tree lined street

I guess that when we all imagine our 'dream' plot we can't help but think of wide bucolic views, orchards in blossom and a babbling brook (that doesn't pose a flood hazard). Dad often jokes that most people are looking for a site that is 'secluded but not isolated, rural but especially well serviced and with a thriving (but quiet) local pub with a buxom barmaid and an organic village stores next door. And with easy access to a motorway but free of road noise.' In other words IMPOSSIBLE. 
And as we spend a lot of our time looking for 'perfect' plots  it is refreshing to see that often the least expected/promising sites deliver the most rewarding end result.

And this fabulous Border Oak house in a typical suburban leafy road (with easy access to several motorways by the ways) , tucked within a range of mid century  homes illustrates exactly how clever self builders can be.  The owners took a good location, in a popular area and made it remarkable. 

Read all about this project in an upcoming issue of Build It Magazine - I will let you know when its in the local shop (or rather the organic general store next to the Michelin Starred pub in a village surrounded by orchards and populated by buxom barmaids)

Although it has a narrow frontage it has interest and depth - the jetties provide intrigue and shadow with the recessed porch drawing you in. The profile of the roof is varied and strong.

It can be very difficult to build on a site this tight at either side - the brick wall to the left is a fire proof wall. The garden is very long so the house design makes the most of this feature.

The kitchen provides a wonderful view over the garden.

Mixing neutral chalky colours with textures of granite, oak and ironmongery creates a cohesive but informal country effect.

With lots of glazing sun can stream through and connect the interior with the passing seasons

The large inglenook protrudes into the sitting room slightly because the narrowness of the plot didn't allow for an external stack - but in a room this large it makes no adverse impact.

Doors, landings and corridors have been aligned to create long views through the building - a clever space illusion design device.

You really can't beat a vaulted ceiling  - height, drama, space and character - definitely worth  the extra cost I think.

A shaped entrance into the beautiful ensuite

And finally a clever little room over the porch - an unexpected bonus.
I do hope you like it too - it certainly shows me what imagination and vision can achieve and how an 'ordinary' plot can be transformed.

I have just commissioned about a zillion new photos by the way (well that is obviously and exaggeration) and the new Border Oak website is V-E-R-Y close (but oh so far away) so I hope to bring you more and more posts to tie up with that. And we also have some top secret news that I will bring to you once GCHQ stop bugging my landline..............

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

awards season again

Each year seems to whizz by faster than the year before doesn't it? It can barely be 5 minutes since this Border Oak project claimed victory at the Homebuilding and Renovating/Daily Telegraph self build awards - but lo and behold the Awards are now open for 2011 entries .
The entry form can be download here and this years prize is a luxury spa break (whoo hoo!) The standard of winners is always high, usually controversial but certainly interesting!

And if you are a Border Oak client and would like enter your home by all means drop me a line and I will be more than happy to advise or help.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

manor house monday

OK, I doubt very much that I will ever remember to post about a manor house every Monday (Farmhouse Friday,Single Storey Saturday anyone?) but Mr A was out and about last week and brought back some photos of a Border Oak house so big that he couldn't get the whole thing in one picture.  Seriously BIG.

And, although I can sometimes be a bit unsure of very BIG new houses (it's just a jealousy thing) this house has great potential because the the architectural/vernacular detail is about right. This is the kind of house that will get better and better with age - which can't be said about many of us (Richard Madeley maybe? Rob Lowe, probably).

this is only about a third of the one elevation - the section to the left is the 'service' wing if you like, the gable and double porch on the right are the 'front' of the main manor which works backwards. I think it is about 10,000 sq ft. Might be more with the attics and basements.

the blue sheeting protects the brick work from the tannin and is trimmed at the end of the build.

I like the slightly random brick infill patterns - a bit of informality on a house this size adds to the organic feel as an original manor would have been much altered, extended and remodelled over the passing centuries. So bizarre to think that not much separates the craftsmanship used to build this house and its direct Medieval counterpart.

The 'back' section of the house looks great too, with many classic 'Border Oak' elements. I think the brick work really helps break the mass of oak and the chimneys provide excellent 'punctuation'. The reason the house works is probably because proportionally it is strong. They haven't just stretched it and made it wider and taller to get the size they needed but have added incrementally and observed vernacular spans and pitches. Can't wait to see the end result.

P.S I know this is a Sunday, not a Monday, but I couldn't wait til the morning to post (well, I am out all day tomorrow)