Period cottages are quite pricey in England and snapped up pretty quickly when they come on the market. Bungalows, built after the war are easier to find but are often located near busy roads or clumped together in rows of almost identical houses. One of the advantages of bungalows, however, is that since they have no period features, it is easier to get building permits to make improvements or to enlarge the house if it is situated correctly on its land.
The brief from my client was to find a bungalow with potential in a great location with a good-sized, fenced garden as the English so love their gardens.
I visited more than thirty properties before my client and I settled on this three-bedroom house surrounded by fields and foot paths near a beautiful period cottage and within walking distance of a river. “Shangri La”, which I quickly petitioned to rename “Field House” was well-built and had room to add to if desired. It also had a mature hedge surrounding the property and a nice feel to it.
The back of the house facing the garden had an inexpensive glassed-in porch, which acted as the covered entry. Walking in to the front door of the house one immediately came upon a wall and had to turn left to the kitchen or right to a hallway that lead to the study. What should have been a sitting room had been made into the master bedroom and a utility room did not exist. The two bedrooms under the eaves shared a low-level toilet and a sink.
My first task was to draw up the renovations with two options. In the first option, I remodeled and redistributed the existing space making an open plan kitchen, and creating a utility room. The effect was to open the front entry so that one could see straight through to the garden in the back upon coming in the front door. I created a full bath upstairs with sky-lights and a master suite so it would open to the new terrace and garden. The second option involved a building extension to the front of the house with a dining room and a powder room as well as attaching a bathroom to the study so it could be used as an extra bedroom.
While those plans were in the permitting stages, I turned my attention to the embellishment of the garden. Large field-grown trees were planted to create a tree-lined driveway and flowerbeds were added with both evergreen and herbaceous plants. Mature climbing vines were then planted on the exterior of the house, the glassed-in porch was removed and a terrace was created on the back of the house leading to a gazebo. More large trees and schrubs were strategically placed throughout the garden. Large stone pavers were installed all around to resemble flag-stones.
Within four months the house was transformed from a simple “bungalow” to a charming home with a “ country cottage” feel.