After years of building properties for other people, Jackie and Graham Smart have finally created their dream home. Sharon Dale reports.
The open plan kitchen with both informal and formal dining areas stretches from the front to the back of Jackie Smart’s new house and it has proved to be a sensational, light-filled space. It’s the heart of the home and every bit of its ample square footage is used, thanks to a last-minute change of plan.
“It was going to be two rooms with a corridor running through it but we decided to make one big area instead,” says Jackie. “It is one of the best decisions we made. The room is so light and we have used the big dining table more in six months than we did in 20 years at the old house when it was shut away in a separate room.”
Creating the perfect layout for their lifestyle was all part of the pleasure when she and husband Graham finally found the right plot for their dream home.
The couple have spent almost 40 years building houses for other people through their Wetherby-based business Keepsake Construction, which was founded by Graham and his brother Keith.
“We always wanted to build one for ourselves but finding a plot in the right location was hard because we wanted to be in a village, ” says Jackie.
The site they settled on is in a quiet spot near Knaresborough and it was a gamble, as it was two plots side by side. On one of them there was a dormer bungalow, which they wanted to demolish.
“We bought the house and land in the hope that we could knock the bungalow down and reposition a new house on the site. We weren’t sure whether that was possible,” says Jackie.
It took a year, but they finally got planning permission and Harrogate Borough Council were satisfied with the design, which complements the Georgian property opposite.
Architect Andrew West, of West and Machell, paid respect to the local vernacular when designing the front elevation, which is built from creamy Yorkshire stone fitted with wood-effect upvc, sliding sash windows.
The rear and the interior are a blend of classic and contemporary style with large areas of glazing to make the most of the rural views.
The five-bedroom property also has the latest eco-friendly technology including a ground source heat pump to run the hot water and heating , a mechanical heat recovery and ventilation unit and higher than average levels of insulation.
Using Keepsake’s craftsmen builders, the house took less than a year to construct and fit out. There were no hitches and no dramas and, best of all, no snagging.
Years of practice building small developments and renovating and converting one-off properties mean that the team’s attention to detail is second to none.
“It was a great experience and Graham and I spent a long time planning and creating a wishlist of rooms that work for us.
“So for instance, after spending years shouting out to the person in the study, we decided that the best place for that room was near the kitchen,” says former linguist Jackie, who later trained in interior design.
Her experience creating show homes for Keepsake gave her a head start when fitting out her own. She also teamed up with brother and sister duo Lucy and Daniel Thompson, of Fabric and Co., in Harrogate.
They created all the drapes and soft furnishings and also supplied wallpaper and tackled upholstery projects including a stunning, quilted velvet and crystal headboard and built-in seating in the snug.
“I was keen to use local businesses and I also wanted to work with some young people, like Daniel and Lucy, who have fresh and exciting ideas,” says Jackie, who loves colour and likes to combine it with texture and pattern.
She chose the subtle Elephant’s Breath by Farrow and Ball for the kitchen units, which were supplied by Harrogate Homes. The room also boasts added a subtle, shiny wallpaper and an old, reclaimed beam that adds character.
The furniture is mostly new buys along with a few much-loved pieces brought from the couple’s old Victorian house in Follifoot.
“That was quite traditional and so not everything suited this property, which is why I mostly had a fresh start,” says Jackie.
The turquoise sofas in the sitting room , which are covered in Designers Guild fabric and the antique dining table are the only reminders of their last home.
Lighting was a challenge and while Graham worked out the location plan, Jackie sourced kitchen lights from John Lewis along with chandeliers, while the rest of the lighting came from Knaresborough-based Robinsons.
“Graham spent weeks on the lighting as we have used LED bulbs which are energy efficient and bright but the light they cast is shallower so you need more of them,” says Jackie.
The last job was the garden, which they designed themselves, and had planted by Beech Outside, the couple came up with their own garden design planted by Drighlington-based Beeches Nurseries
“We’ve been here six months and the garden is just getting established but I think the house looks like it has always been here, which is what we wanted,” says Jackie.
“I absolutely love it. It suits us and our lifestyle and it will stand the test of time.”
Jackie’s useful contacts
Keepsake Construction, Wetherby, tel: 01937 861260, www.keepsakeconstruction.co.uk
Fabric and Co, Cold Bath Road, Harrogate, tel: 01423 709947, www.fabricandco.com
Architects, West and Machell, Leeds, www. westandmachell.co.uk
Quick Slide, Brighouse, uPVC sliding sash windows, www.quickslide.co.uk
Harrogate Homes, kitchen specialists, West Park
Robinsons Lighting, Knaresborough, www.robinsonslighting.co.uk
Barker and Stonehouse, Knaresborough, metal chandelier on stairs, www.barkerandstonehouse.co.uk
Sol Earth Systems, Harrogate, ground source heat pump, www.solearthsystems.com
Terzetto, near Tockwitth, stone flooring, www.terzetto.co.uk
Beech’s Nurseries, Drighlington, garden planting, www.beechesnurseries.co.uk