After a lifetime of doing up old property for pleasure, artist Rob Moore fulfilled an ambition that is shared by many serial renovators.
He built his own home, tackling everything from the design to project managing and decorating.
“I’ve always lived in old houses and I’ve always done them up but I wanted to have a go at building my own home with a purpose-made studio,” he says.
Single building plots are rare in the Yorkshire Wolds, so after selling his cottage there, he decided to look further afield. The search led him to Barrow-upon-Humber, a pretty estuary village just over the Humber Bridge and a short drive from Hull.
The plot was ideal and so, together with Salt Architects in Beverley, he designed his dream home: a large studio at the front with a “smallish” light-filled house behind.
His main contractor, Stubbs Brothers, was, he says, “brilliant” but there were still challenges. The water company refused to allow the builders to connect to the mains during the first stages of the build. “They couldn’t build without access to water but, fortunately, my neighbour agreed to let us use hers. I’m not sure what we would’ve done otherwise.
“The other stress was the number of decisions you have to make in such a short period of time. It took almost a year to complete the house and over that time I lost one-and-a-half stones in weight,” says Rob.
The property is constructed from red brick and render with powder-coated aluminium windows. The underfloor heating is run from an air source heat pump and he has installed solar panels, which means his fuel bills are minimal. Inside, there is a double-height entrance hall with a shower room leading to a large open-plan living space.
The stairs, which lead to two bedrooms and a bathroom, are wider than average to allow Rob to bring large canvasses down from the mezzanine above his studio.
The bathroom houses his most lavish purchase, an egg-shaped bath that cost £3,400 from Porcelanosa in Doncaster.
“It was an indulgence but I love it so it was worth it,” says Rob, whose studio is attached to the front of the house after plans for a glazed link were abandoned due to cost. It features a striking, sloping roof and is rendered in white with bi-fold doors.
It is the most important space in the property as he spends much of his time in there now that he is a full-time artist. He left his job as Dean of the School of Art and Design at Hull University four years ago to devote more time to his work.
“I’m in the studio from 8am until 3pm in winter and I stay later in summer,” says Rob, who has been an artist and teacher since leaving art school.
“I knew from an early age that art was what I wanted to do and I have always drawn, painted and exhibited.”
His work in oils is largely abstract and for years it was large scale. His most recent pieces are smaller and reflect his love of landscape in general and the Wolds in particular.
Together with fellow artist Adele Howitt, he also helps to run Studio Eleven, a gallery with workshops at the old Fruit Market in Hull. It showcases the work of both young and established artists and makers and has been a welcome addition to the waterfront area.
His own work is available at exhibitions and online via the Watermark Gallery, which specialises in works on paper.
“I don’t usually sell anything online but Richard and Liz Hawkes who run Watermark have such integrity and they also do fantastic conservation work, so I decided to do it,” says Rob, who has just curated an exhibition at Dean Clough in Halifax.
Living Landscape features pictures by six oil painters, including himself, Jean Davey Winter, Patti Lea, Richard Hatfield, David Fulford and Jake Attree.
Work by other artists, including Patti, Malcolm Whittaker and Dawn Brooks decorate his own home, though he rarely puts his own paintings on the walls due to the pain of self-criticism. The only place visitors can view it is in the studio.
The enormous room is furnished with old desks, a vintage chair and his painting paraphernalia and sketchbooks.
Centre stage is a printing press from Hawthorn Printmakers in York, which Rob is “road testing” as printmaking plays an increasing part in his work.
The rest of the house is furnished with contemporary new buys, as he jettisoned most of the furniture and furnishings from his previous property.
The kitchen is hand-built by Murdoch Troon, from Boston, Lincolnshire, and the dining table was a bargain from online store Achica, which specialises in discounted, modern homeware.
Outside, what was a forest of brambles is now a beautiful garden with raised beds, railway sleepers and a pond that Rob built himself.
It is the perfect spot to stand and admire his first self-build, though it may soon be a memory. He has just put the house up for sale and plans to move back to the Wolds.
“I didn’t realise how much I would miss the Wolds,” he says. “They have seeped into my work and I feel I need to go back, but I have no regrets about coming here. It’s been a great adventure.”
Rob’s house is for sale for £320,000 with Paul Fox, paul-fox.com
Living Landscape is at Dean Clough, Halifax, until April 24, deanclough.com