After falling in love with a secluded one-acre plot, which was home to a rather uninspiring single-storey property, Ian and his wife Lynne decided that they were prepared to compromise on the house as the location was so fantastic. Featuring austere bare brick internal walls, brown-painted joinery and a small, cramped kitchen, the property was far from being their dream home.
‘We moved to the bungalow from a three-bedroom estate house on the north side of Guildford, which was quite a busy place,’ explains Ian. ‘This is a much quieter country location, and it was a step up in terms of the house size, too, but the décor definitely wasn’t to our taste.
‘One of the main things we disliked about the original bungalow was that everything was so brown and dark inside,’ he continues. ‘It was really uninspiring, and we decided early on that we would plaster over the internal brick walls, but we lead busy lives and somehow never got around to it.’
- The owners: Ian Hiscock, a software consultant, lives here with his wife Lynne, a personal assistant
- The property: A detached, three-bedroom bungalow, built in 1990s
- The location: Dorking, Surrey
- What they spent: The couple paid £500,000 for the original bungalow in 2002 ad have spent £200,000 on extending and renovating it. The property has recently been valued at around £900,000
The bungalow had been a self-build project, completed by the previous owners in 1990, and was structurally sound, with concrete roof tiles and handmade bricks imported from Amsterdam. After years spent enduring the relentlessly brown interiors, Ian and Lynne decided to give their home a much-needed makeover. Their ideas involved adding a conservatory to the living room and knocking down the wall between the kitchen and dining room to open up this part of the house.
‘We’re not particularly creative, so we contacted a few local architects for help, but they were all pretty uninspiring, to be honest,’ says Ian. ‘Then Lynne found designer Martin Swatton’s website and saw how he had transformed properties for other clients, including many bungalows.’
Martin visited the Hiscocks’ home and spent time talking to Lynne and Ian about the way they live, before making some suggestions that they had never previously considered. ‘It was Martin’s idea to move the kitchen into the living room and have one open-plan space,’ says Lynne. ‘We were keen to keep the television out of this open area, so the old kitchen has been converted into a separate TV room.’
Martin also suggested building a side extension utility room and extending the rear bedroom to create a new master bedroom, with an en suite bathroom in what had previously been a small home office. Every room would be improved and the hard landscaping cleverly designed, right down to building a camouflaged bin store.
Glass plays an important role in the design, and two exterior walls in the new vaulted living room are formed from glazed folding-sliding doors, opening up the entire corner of the room to the terrace beyond. The gable end is glazed up to the roof, and a structural steel frame extends out onto the terrace, forming a protective canopy supported on timber-clad upright posts.
Many of the windows are unusual shapes, including a long, thin horizontal picture window in the living room and big, deep windows in the new en suite bathroom, where the apertures were previously a more traditional shape.
‘We began to get excited about the possibilities,’ says Ian. ‘Permitted development rights had been removed when the previous owner built the bungalow, because we live in an Area of Great Landscape Value, but Martin engaged with the planners and demonstrated that the extensions would be sympathetic to the environment.’
In fact, the front of the bungalow has not been dramatically altered. The brickwork is now painted pale grey; dark, stained-oak cladding has been added to the projecting wing, and there is a new oak entrance door, but nothing prepares you for the complete transformation of the rear of the building and the new glazed extensions.
Starting the project
Designer Martin commissioned architectural practice Designcubed, who worked with him to develop the specification and produce building regulation drawings. The practice also tendered to a number of building companies and carried out site monitoring and general contract administration during the build.
‘We first met Martin in May 2011, we were building by November, and back in the house in May 2012,’ says Lynne. ‘We moved into a tiny apartment in a nearby converted barn for six months. The builders moved into caravans on site and completely stripped out the bungalow. It was strange watching our home being reduced to a shell.’
Cheltenham-based Farrdenn Construction was selected following the tender process, and worked for five months during severe winter conditions to complete the project. Martin offered creative support throughout, liaising with the builder and architect, visiting the site and helping Ian and Lynne with the numerous decisions they had to make.
‘I’m the control-freak type and wanted to know what was going on at all times, but Martin is a perfectionist and paid great attention to detail at every point,’ says Ian. ‘We had a fixed fee with the builder, and, although there were some variations as we went along, we wanted to stick to the original budget as closely as possible.’
Building work begins
Deep foundations were excavated in clay soil for the three extensions, and the rear of the house was virtually demolished to make way for these new additions. Structural steelwork was assembled in the front garden, then craned over the house and erected to support the extensive glazing and the rear of the building. As at the front of the house, the external brickwork has been painted a pale grey, while the the new utility room form a practical sheltered bin store and porch. ‘Ideally, we’d have liked to replace the main roof with new slates, but it would have taken us over the budget,’ Ian explains.
Internally, the exposed brick walls have been plastered over and painted, instantly brightening the rooms. A glazed screen with a stained oak frame was erected between the dining area and entrance hall, visually opening up this part of the house and allowing light to pass through. ‘We don’t have any curtains at the back of the house, but it really isn’t a problem because the plot is so private at the rear,’ says Lynne.
Work progressed smoothly and involved laying oak flooring throughout the house, fitting out the bathrooms and kitchen, plus installing new radiators and trench heating. Martin made product suggestions at every stage and even accompanied the Hiscocks on shopping trips to offer advice on furniture and fittings.
‘We don’t particularly enjoy shopping, but Martin narrowed down the choices so that we weren’t overwhelmed,’ says Ian. ‘He suggested the suspended fireplace in the living room right at the start of the project, designed a purpose-made oak unit for the TV room, devised the lighting and produced colour schemes.
‘The running joke was that everything in the house was going to be grey, because colour would be introduced in the furniture and accessories – the green splashbacks, orange chairs and bright cushions. We can’t praise Martin highly enough and we were so lucky to have such a great team, including the architect and builder.’
Within only five months, the bland single-storey bungalow has been totally transformed, and the result has exceeded Ian and Lynne’s expectations. ‘It feels like a totally different property,’ says Ian, who admits that the couple had to clear out many of their belongings before they were able to move into their sleek, stylish new home.
‘We really like the unusual shape of the windows, and the full-height glazing in the living room gives us scenic views of trees and sky that we could never previously enjoy,’ says Ian. ‘Everything in the new design is so functional and practical – from the way that doors close to how the handles feel. Best of all, though, we’ve finally removed all the brown brickwork and paint!’
|Decoration and furnishings||£15,000|