Christopher Lawler & Peter Cave
Johnston Cave Associates (Architects)
When we first set eyes on our client’s listed house deep within darkest Oxfordshire and at the end of a long rambling drive, we couldn’t help but be impressed with its setting.
But as our client soon showed us, the landscape was wasted as originally being a farmhouse, its priority was to the land, not the landscape.
It meant the best views were never from the house, despite its elevation.
Our task was to change this as well as to bring the farmhouse into the 21st century, but without ruining it.
A project like this, requires a total reimagining of how a particular house functions. Could walls be moved, removed or opened up? Could additions be added that wouldn’t swamp the existing structure? Could anything actually be done that wouldn’t destroy the existing charm?
We proceeded on the basis of upping the status of the house - gentrification - in the best sense of the word. It meant that we could make a ‘later addition’; one that enhanced the status of the farmhouse but at the same time recognised it.
Conceived to be constructed in Ashlar stone, the new wing was in the end more cost-effectively rendered in lime mortar, but with struck joints to very effectively mimic the shadow lines of stone - a technique that John Nash used extensively in London’s Regents Park.
The wing was one very large drawing room with connecting snug, enjoying spectacular views over the countryside and perfect for social events and entertaining. For quieter times, the snug could be closed off making it perfect for intimate family gatherings. A study led off it with stairs leading to a large new wine cellar. Upstairs was a new master suite with dressing room and a series of remodelled bedrooms and bathrooms.
It was an opportunity to reexamine the flow of the original house which to be frank, was a dark maze.
The solution was to open the interior up to allow for the creation of a spacious new hall with a staircase that was simple, yet elegant and very much in keeping with the building. It meant that as you entered the house it drew you in to the heart of the home with the principle rooms leading off it - including a new kitchen and breakfast room.
Calling us back a few years later to remodel the tumble-down out-buildings obviously meant that our client was happy with our solution.
With the amount of space these buildings encompassed, we were able to create a swimming pool area and games room as well as staff accommodation.
A farmhouse perfectly reimagined.