From manor house to floating home of the future

Selfbuilder & Homemaker meets Tony and Nicky Maude who swapped their listed manor house for an ultra modern home that’s the model of minimal living.

Tony and Nicky Maude lived in a listed manor house but dreamed of building a modern, sustainable home that would be easy to maintain and provide the space they needed to entertain friends. In 2012, their dream came true when they moved into the ultra modern and award winning White Lodge, which they designed with the help of Dyer Grimes Architects.

The journey

Selling their classic but expensive to run manor house, Tony and Nicky wanted to stay in the area and continue to enjoy all the benefits of Surrey country living. However, at the same time they also aimed to declutter their lifestyle, simplify their domestic surroundings and reduce their utility bills.

Fortunately they did not have to look far and found, only a short distance away, an unloved, prefabricated, 1960s detached bungalow. The almost derelict property was shielded by tall trees and enjoyed panoramic views across the Surrey Downs and beyond. The site appeared to be perfect, apart from being located in an area surrounded by traditional pitched roof properties and controlled by a Council whose strict planning requirements strongly favoured retaining the local vernacular. But when you have a dream, and a good architect, you can make things happen. So Tony and Nicky bought the bungalow, and its perfect position, not knowing whether they would ever obtain planning permission.

The challenges

Their brief for the design of the ultra contemporary home included flexible, open living and entertainment space, to be illuminated by extensive glazing that would also make the most of the mature grounds, the surrounding countryside and the all-essential swimming pool. The home was also to embrace high sustainable standards of build and maintenance.

Dyer Grimes Architects’ ultimate design would have to take into account Tony and Nicky’s requirements to persuade a potentially restrictive development control regime to grant planning permission, remodel a site which sloped sharply away to one side and create a contemporary home that would complement the area’s existing, traditional residential properties.

One of the early challenges was the local planning authority, which had a long-standing policy that ensured all new build homes matched the immediate area’s traditional vernacular. But this was not to stand in the way of Tony and Nicky who did not want planning restrictions to preclude their stretching the planners’ imaginations and pushing the boundaries of contemporary design.

The proposed home’s design would also have to overcome the confines of the sloping site, which could have greatly limited the overall size of the building and the planned landscaping.

To add to the design challenges the property’s construction had to embrace sustainable features that would be both easy and cost effective to maintain while taking advantage of renewable materials and energy.

Working closely with both its clients and the planning authority, over 18 months Dyer Grimes Architects produced a design that won the approval of the planners to infill and level part of the site and build a contemporary, three-tiered, six-bedroom home, with 480m2 of flexible living space, into the remaining sloping section.

Modern building technologies were combined with the highest quality materials, including hardwood cladding and white render, emphasised by large windows which flood the home with natural light and provide visual access to the local area’s panoramic views.

In addition, attractive landscaped grounds were planted to surround the glazed ground floor living space and the first floor ‘hovers’ over the kitchen-diner area and swimming pool.

This is achieved by the cantilevered design of the property, which creates the illusion that a large part of the home is hovering above its own reflection in the glass-ended swimming pool.

The clever structural design and innovative construction methods incorporate slender steel columns, high performance glazing and an advanced insulated render system. This is enhanced by intricate detailing, including a shadow gap wrapping around the building between ground and first floor levels.

Making full use of the screening provided by the established, mature trees the three-storey home is approached at the lower ground floor level via a stepped promenade that leads to the front entrance on the ground floor level. Here the main living spaces are accessed from a spacious entrance hall. To create additional space, when required, the large separating walls can be easily slid into specially designed wall pockets. This allows the living, dining and reception rooms to become one open plan space. Perfect for entertaining large numbers of friends.

The lower ground and the bedrooms on the first floor are accessed via feature timber and glass stairs. To increase the private outside space available the property also has a large roof terrace, which is accessed from the upper floor landing area.

A bay window on the north facade provides views back to the entrance gates, while glass walls to the south and west allow panoramic views of the landscaped grounds and swimming pool.

Interiors

Nicky’s interior design followed the couple’s desire to declutter their lives and minimize their surroundings.

The limited furniture was selected to complement the home’s white rendered walls and

massive panoramic windows. The first floor’s dark tiled flooring, is simple, stylish, comfortable and effective. Large square formed sofa suites help frame the living areas, the dining area has a 12 setting suite and the kitchen is marked by a massive mahogany, under lit central island and breakfast bar. The normal kitchen clutter is hidden behind flush fitting, storage units with soft touch opening mechanisms.

The feature staircase, with its wooden treads, acts as a transition from the dark tiled first floor to the wooden floored upper level. Here the flooring matches the roof terrace decking and helps bring the outside in. The bedrooms’ massive window spaces illuminate the rooms, which are all minimally furnished and dressed in white linen.

The finished interior look is clean, truly uncluttered and a model of minimal living. Nicky explained:

“My key focus was the large kitchen and family room, which is where I anticipated we would spend most time together as a family, and entertain friends.

“From the beginning I tried to find the right balance between uncluttered minimalism and practical living, having a messy husband and two messy sons. I was lucky enough to be able to look at each room as a blank canvas and design bespoke modern furniture for each room rather than best fit old furnishings that we had accumulated over the years. All that was sold or given away.

“Tony also wanted a smart home, integrated lighting, a cinema room and the whole house wired for sound and video. I took this into account but made sure there was no visible wiring.

“Overall, the whole experience was amazing. It is something which I enjoyed from start to finish. There’s always road bumps along the way, but I have to say working with Galowers Builders and Dyer Grimes Architects was simply a pleasure.

“Now we are able to simply enjoy the house and grounds and there’s not too much I’d change. I guess the many hours thinking about the minutiae paid off!”

Sustainability

Great emphasis was placed on constructing White Lodge in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. To support this objective a challenging sustainability target was set; to generate 20 per cent of the energy required by using renewable energy sources.

To achieve this the structure has a hybrid steel frame, with load bearing masonry, prefabricated concrete ground floors and sustainably sourced timber upper floors.

White Lodge also draws 12 per cent of its energy usage from renewable sources. A thermally efficient envelope, super efficient gas boiler, underfloor heating, solar hot water collectors on the roof, a highly sustainable drainage system and an air source heat pump, which circulates heat around the entire house, all help to keep energy bills to a minimum. In fact, White Lodge costs Tony and Nicky a fifth of the running costs they experienced in their former listed manor house.

Accolades

White Lodge has subsequently won four major design awards and has attracted the attention of the media world, while featuring in a number of music videos, model shoots and TV programmes.

Tony and Nicky explained:

“We set out to push the boundaries of country living and create a house in which we could live and entertain effortlessly, and without the ongoing maintenance costs of a period country estate. As soon as we met Dyer Grimes Architects we knew we could realise our dream – but we didn’t envisage that the end result would win us such accolades. Hailed a ‘modern marvel’ by the Evening Standard and in demand by TV and film location companies. We’ve even had Ridley Scott’s team knocking on our door.”

Project awards:

2013

  • Best Family Home – British Homes Awards by Sunday Times
  • Best Residential Architectural Property Award – International Design & Architecture Awards
  • Highly Commended – Best Family Home Award – Evening Standard, New Homes Awards

2012

  • Highly Commended – Architecture Single Residence South East – International Property Awards

Costs:

  • Original house purchase was £850,000
  • Overall build including land, pool, deck and landscaping circa £2 million
  • White Lodge has not been valued

Contractors & suppliers

Project architect: Dyer Grimes Architects

Structural engineers: Nick Maclean Ltd

  • 8A Chamberlain Street, London NW1 8XB

Quantity surveyor: Bonfield Ltd

  • 140 Gloucester Avenue, Primrose Hill London NW1 8JA
  • 020 7586 7550

Main contractor: Galower Builders Ltd

  • 102 Long Lane, Stanwell, Middlesex TW19 7AE
  • 0178 424 3187

Lighting consultant: Dominic Myott Lighting

  • 45 High St, Welwyn, Hertfordshire AL6 9EH

Swimming pool: Tanby Pools

  • 01883 622 335

Kitchen and living room joinery: Chambers Furniture

Fitted furniture: R&R Joinery Ltd

Timber flooring: Ultimate flooring, Richmond Hill

  • 0208 332 1772

Bathrooms: Lewis Charles Bathrooms, Redhill

  • 01737 773 792