A contemplative family home full of considered details
When presented with the opportunity to design a new-build on a large site, you could be forgiven for assuming that architects have free reign to quickly design an amazing home, unrestricted by an existing house or the proximity of neighbours. But these sites, too, present their own challenges.
Peter Legge Architects was commissioned by a young family to design their family home on one such site. It was not only sloped, but the house also needed to be north-facing to have a back garden that would feel private. However, architect Patrick Lloyd explains that, as a practice, “We think the idea that north-facing living spaces have to be dark and unpleasant simply isn’t the case, as long as careful consideration is given to the design,” and so this was merely another thing they had to take into account.
Patrick says that while the clients knew the kind of feeling they wanted their home to have, they were flexible in terms of how this was to be achieved: “they simply wanted a warm, comfortable family home.” Their approach was based on achieving this deceptively simple brief, and so they focused on how the spaces in the house would work together.
“We wanted the spaces to flow and interconnect, but also have the ability to compartmentalise when necessary, hence the large sliders on ground floor level,” Patrick explains. The space can therefore feel quite open plan, emphasising its size and allowing light to travel through, or each room can be closed off for cosy evenings.
To ensure the house worked functionally, it has many clever practical features, such as ample built-in storage. Patrick says that “The priority was that it worked as a family home, and so practicalities were always to the forefront. The clients didn’t want the televisions to dominate the living and family spaces and are therefore concealed within built in joinery units.” The window seats in the living spaces are another detail which provide a flexible element to these rooms.
The palette of materials selected was designed to provide rich textures and tones, while maintaining the mood of simplicity and warmth, and the attention to detail is noticeable at every turn. “The combination of lightened oak floors and natural oak joinery, painted brick, and brass fittings and fixtures was developed with the client and was very much a reflection of their design sensibilities,” Patrick explains.
“We spent considerable time on the joinery details, with bespoke sliders, storage, dining table and bench, as well as a careful curation of all light fittings and sanitary ware.” This ensures that although the home is in many ways pared back, it feels contemplative rather than cold.
This atmosphere is also thanks to the light, which has also been considered in great detail. “The house is really an exercise in light,” Patrick says. “The main living spaces are north facing, so we placed large voids and openings that penetrate deep into the plan; from the stairwell, over the kitchen, and into the family room, drawing direct light from the south via the roof lights above and down to the spaces below.” The result is a home that creates interest through these shafts of light, playing with areas where there is more shadow.
The slope of the site was also used to create interest as you move through the house. There is a gradual reveal of the garden, which can be glimpsed from the front door and as you venture further through, the view opens up. “As you move through the house there is a stepped descent; from front hallway and living, to kitchen and dining, and down to the family space that addresses the rear garden,” Patrick explains.
“The ceiling level remains the same for all of these spaces though, so that the floor-to-ceiling height increases as one descends, increasing the sense of space. In our projects we often try to create pleasantly unexpected encounters as you move around, as is the case here.”
PHOTOGRAPHY AISLING MCCOY
WORDS MEGAN BURNS