Inside story on award-winning cottage near Whitby

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This beautiful home in Grosmont has won top awards for building excellence. Sharon Dale reports. Pictures by Gary Longbottom.

There was serious danger of a Gwyneth Paltrow moment when Karin Henderson attended the building industry “Oscars”. Up against some very flash, multi-million pound projects, she and her husband, Graham, were certain their property would be an also-ran at the grand final of the LABC awards.

The cottage transformed with an extension and a cantilevered balcony over the river.

The cottage transformed with an extension and a cantilevered balcony over the river.

“We were very relaxed and enjoying the event thinking we had no chance of winning and then they read our name out. I couldn’t believe it. It was like David beating Goliath,” says Karin, who admits to shedding a discreet tear or two.

Three LABC building excellence trophies now have pride of place in the Hendersons’ newly extended and renovated cottage in Grosmont, near Whitby. The Georgian house won local, regional and national awards for the Best Extension or Alteration to an Existing Home. The judges were bowled over by the sensitive and stylish transformation that makes the most of the property’s position alongside the River Esk.

Sara-Jane Hill, of North Yorkshire Building Control Partnership, praised the “careful design, combined with enthusiasm and a drive to build a home that suited the owners’ needs. Great credit is due for their vision and hard work and to the builder for his skill and the quality of the build.”

The couple were on a visit to their bolthole in Whitby when their son, Nick, who owns Hendersons estate agency, mentioned that the Grosmont cottage was on the market. Their main home at the time was in Crete but Karin couldn’t resist viewing it.

The wood burner from Town and Country Fires  is cosy but the house is so well insulated it is rarely needed

The wood burner from Town and Country Fires is cosy but the house is so well insulated it is rarely needed

“It needed a lot of work but it was owned by a lovely couple who had lived here for 40 years and had a really good feel to it,” says Karin. “By the time the viewing had finished I knew just what I wanted to do to the house. I knew I wanted a glass balcony over the river and I’d decided where I was putting my Christmas tree.”

She and Graham have since made the cottage their main home but modernisation turned out to be far more ambitious than they originally anticipated.

“At one point we were down to three walls, no roof and no floors,” says Karin, who hired architect Tim Harrison from the BHD Partnership and Martin Thistle Construction as the main builder. Martin and his team were faced with a tight site and a complicated new roof structure but rose to the challenge.

The existing property was completely reconfigured inside and an old lean-to was demolished to make way for a two-storey extension and a garage. To satisfy the North York Moors National Park planning authority, the extension had to be discreet so architect Tim designed it with a lower roof height.

Karin and Graham in the kitchen, which is housd in the new exension. Cabinets from Howdens

Karin and Graham in the kitchen, which is housd in the new exension. Cabinets from Howdens

“That was so it doesn’t look like one big property,” says Graham, who managed to win permission for uPVC windows on the grounds that maintaining wooden frames would have been very difficult on the riverside section of the house.

“We made a replica of one of the box sash windows with uPVC frames and a cream coating that is as close to the original wood ones that we could get,” says Graham.

The project started in August 2014 and was finished in May 2015 with no hiccups thanks to the experienced architect and builder.

What was a bedroom, sitting room, loo and tiny kitchen on the ground floor has been transformed. The extension created space for a large kitchen which leads to a spacious dining area with a wood-burning stove.

One of the bedrooms with bedding from Dorma and Laura Ashley

One of the bedrooms with bedding from Dorma and Laura Ashley

There is also a new entrance porch and a sitting room. Upstairs, what was two bedrooms and a box room has been extended to four bedrooms, two en-suites and a family bathroom. The couple also installed insulation and oil-fired underfloor heating. The stand-out feature is a cantilevered glass balcony that “floats” above the river and a 
decked area, which is a sheltered sun trap. “I’ve even got an olive tree there,” says Karin.

The couple admit that they have gone well over their intended budget but are now putting the finishing touches to the interior. Happy to splash out on plantation shutters, Graham put his foot down at a bespoke kitchen. Karin designed her own using Howden’s cabinets and the couple managed to source a huge single piece of granite for the island.

“It took six men to carry that in and it took some finding,” says Graham. “It was worth it though as I didn’t want a worktop that was pieced together.”

One of the most satisfying moments for Karin came when she topped off the chimney. She loves heights and was happy to ignore the considerable health and safety risks. “I had no fear of heights at all so I climbed up the scaffolding and the roof ladder before standing on the ridge. I loved it,” she says, confident that the cottage will be a long-term home.

“It gives us the best of both worlds. Grosmont is in the country but it’s close to Whitby and it has a pub, a shop and a train station.

“The cottage is tucked away and being next to the river is wonderful. It’s so peaceful and we get salmon, otters and lots of birds. It’s a magical place to live.”

The house bathroom with bath from Soakology and towel rail from Victorian Plumbing

The house bathroom with bath from Soakology and towel rail from Victorian Plumbing

* Architects, BHD Partnership Ltd , bhdpartnership.com

Builder, Martin Thistle construction, tel 07717 184272

MB plumbing, Mike Barker, tel 07960 094262

Plastering, Ryan Gildroy, tel 01947 600540

Joinery, Mark Fenwick, tel 07779 253131

Electrician, SI Electrical, tel 01947 825755

Heating engineer, Keith Atteridge, tel 07977 401519

Rose Engineering, glass balcony, roseeng.co.uk

Painters and decorators, WM Hodgson and son, tel 0778 6617041

Nuheat underfloor heating, Nu-heat.co.uk

Scarborough window company, tel 01723 582667

Abbey Art Stone, stonework, cills and corbels, abbeyartstone.co.uk

Town and Country Fires, wood-burning stove, townandcountryfires.co.uk

Fabraweld Fabricators, Scarborough, steel work, www.fabraweldltd.co.uk

Coastal inspired accessories

Coastal inspired accessories

Karin is unafraidof heights and insisted on "topping off" the chimney

Karin is unafraidof heights and insisted on "topping off" the chimney

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