This stunning Dales cottage is almost twice the size thanks to a contemporary extension. Sharon Dale reports.
Moving from a three bedroom cottage to a tiny one-bedroom property just yards away, seemed like a strange decision, but sacrificing square footage has brought ample rewards for Rachel Ramsden. “The garden was the main attraction. It was a tiny house with a big garden,” says Rachel, who had to convince the owner to sell it to her.
“The lady who had it had lived here for 25 years and it was important to her that it went to someone who cared about the area. I already lived in the village and I love it,” says Rachel. After being given permission to buy it in 2007, Rachel set about putting her plans for a dream Dales home into practice.
She was keen to create more space and to make some alterations. The ceiling height upstairs was a particular issue and if you didn’t remember to duck, you were likely to bump into a low-slung beam. Plus, as the house faced side on, its main view was the garden and the neighbouring property, rather than the magnificent landscape.
The obvious idea was to build a two-storey extension on the cottage in Appletreewick, but after a neighbour objected Rachel withdrew the plans. “I didn’t want to upset anyone so I went back to the drawing board,” says Rachel, marketing manager at the Skipton Building Society.
It was her friend Jonathon Wingfield, of Acanthus WSM Architects in Leeds, who came up with a sensational solution. He suggested a single-storey extension on the front of the property with a run of folding, glazed doors to flood the space with light and give access to the long-range rural view. The Yorkshire Dales National Park was supportive and keen to keep the project as local as possible.
Rachel hired renowned local builder Merv Holme. Together with a host of other local tradespeople, they created a fabulous home that blends contemporary design with the character of the existing building.
What was a tiny cottage with a living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom of minuscule proportions is now almost double the size thanks to the extension that cost about £1,200 per sq metre. The property now has its original sitting room, a loo where the pantry used to be and a guest bedroom in place of the old kitchen lean-to. Upstairs, the low beam has been removed leaving a spacious bedroom, while the bathroom has been refurbished. The extension, built from local stone, is open plan and houses a kitchen, dining area and sitting area plus a generous storage cupboard next to the new front door.
“I can’t praise Merv and the others who helped me enough. I’ve never done anything like this before and it shows the benefit of using good local people,” says Rachel, who invested time and money in the decor. The kitchen units were designed and hand built by Simon Newbould, of Skyreholme. He also made the free-standing larder unit to house everything from jars and crockery to the microwave. It’s a work of art and the envy of all her visitors. It cost £2,200.
“This is a once in a lifetime project and I wanted to make sure everything was absolutely right,” says Rachel. “The kitchen was very cost-effective but the electric Aga was an extravagance although I’ve never regretted it. It makes this room warm and homely.“
Although she splashed out on some areas, she saved in others. Sourced by Simon, the glass panel above the Aga only cost £120. It’s a piece of glass painted with Farrow and Ball’s brightest orange. “I also found a fantastic bathroom sink and unit from Habitat for £100 reduced from £900 for the downstairs loo,” says Rachel.
The bespoke kitchen means there is a purpose-built home for everything including her collection of and the quirky craft and vintage pieces she loves, including the EAT letters from The Red House in Bedale, which specialises in unusual reclaimed objects.
Her latest buys are the Philippe Starck chairs that brighten up the dining table.
“I love sitting here in the morning and looking out at the views. They have transformed the house,” she says.
Although the original part of the house doesn’t have as much natural light, the colourful decor makes it bright and cosy. The sitting room has pink cushions and vivid blinds in Designers Guild fabric made by Cath Fearnley. “You won’t find any blue in the house. I love pinks, oranges and yellows. It’s all about warmth,” says Rachel.
The guest room painted in Farrow and Ball’s India Yellow, while the bed is adorned with a blanket crocheted by her mum when she was on an a tour of America, while Rachel’s own travels are reflected in mementos she brought back from her trips to her favourite Australia and New Zealand.
Upstairs, the bedroom has been given an injection of colour with a quilted throw from one of her favourite stores- Anthropologie in London. “I’m just saving up for some fitted cupboards in here and then it will be finished,” says Rachel, who is enjoying her new look cottage and her busy village life. She’s even taken over the role of clerk to the parish council, which was vacated by the lady who owned the cottage before her.
“It’s a small place but it is a fabulous community with loads going on,” she says. “I love it and I love my house. I don’t think I’ll ever leave.”
Architectural concept, Jonathon Wingfield, Acanthus WSM, www.acanthuswsm.xom
Builder, Merv Holme, Holme Construction, Appletreewick, 01756 720342
Kitchen, Simon Newbould, joiner and cabinet maker, Skyreholme, 01756 720499
Furniture, Jim Mason, joiner and cabinet maker, Appletreewick, 07763 022695
The Red House, Bedale, vintage and reclaimed, www.redhousebedale.co.uk
Anthropologie, London, fashion and homeware, www.anthropologie.eu
Chesters, near Ambleside, crafts and homeware, www.chestersbytheriver. co.uk
Art by Helen Peyton, Skyreholme, www.helenpeyton.com
Garden by Jonathan Gibson, Burnsall, 01756 720694
Blinds by Cath Fearnley, Appletreewick, 01756 720660.