When Jo and Dave Edwards relocated for work in 2010, they chose to settle in Howden because they had family in the area. At the time, their two grown-up children were at university and about to embark upon their careers of their own so they chose a flexible family home off Knedlington Road, a leafy residential street on the edge of the town.
Fast forward 11 years and the couple have since retired, their children have long since flown the nest and they now have two grandchildren. As their lifestyle has changed, Jo and Dave have gradually adapted the house to suit their needs, with certain spaces reclaimed so that they can spend more time enjoying their hobbies.
Jo, who worked in education before retiring, says: “We’re from Hull originally but had lived near Halifax for about 20 years. When we discovered Howden, we didn’t know how lovely it was – we don’t really want to tell everyone the secret! It was the perfect spot for the family to move to as our children still lived with us when they came home from university. Since we retired we’ve been revamping the house; it’s a fresh start for our new chapter.”
The couple are no stranger to renovation projects, having previously lived in a quirky period property in Luddenden, which had a cellar with an earth floor that they turned into a large kitchen. However, as their house in Howden was built only around 2008, the improvements they have been carrying out have been largely cosmetic.
Originally the show home for a Hoveden Homes development, the three-storey property occupies a generous corner plot and is surprisingly characterful for a modern home. There’s definitely a nod to the traditional Georgian architecture of Howden’s historic town centre. The developer even created the impression of blocked up windows, a common feature of many period properties owing to the Window Tax of 1696.
Jo says: “It offers the best of both worlds, it’s a modern home but with interesting features, such as unusually shaped rooms, patterns in the brickwork, deep skirtings and coving. There is great attention to detail and a quality that we really liked about the property, but it’s very different from working with mud and rocks as we did at our previous home.” As well as creating a film room on the third floor and a space where Jo can indulge her love of crafting, the couple have largely focused their efforts on “developing the character” of the house. As the living room had only an electric fire previously, they have added a working fireplace and chimney breast, creating a feature through all three floors.
They recently hired the services of Howden-based suppliers to create a large, open-plan dining kitchen by knocking down the wall between the original kitchen and dining room. The building work was carried out by contractor Jamie Barnitt and the new kitchen was installed by the Hob, which also transformed Jo and Dave’s downstairs cloakroom and en suite bathroom.
Jo adds: “The team from the Hob also suggested things that we’d never have thought of, such as laying the flooring diagonally across the kitchen to take your eye on a journey across the space – it’s an optical illusion that helps to make the room look bigger. They also created a huge cupboard next to the dining space, which contains everything you need to set the table.
Dave loves to cook and really missed having a gas hob, so they were able to combine both an induction and gas hob for him, as well as adding a proving oven for when he makes homemade pizzas.
“We chose a quartz splashback to match the worktop, but we had it made higher than it normally would be so that it’s easier to look after if people make a mess when cooking. There are no wall units as we wanted to maximise space and light to make the room look bigger. We also moved the island unit as it used to cut across the space too much. I never thought I’d be lucky enough to have such a beautiful kitchen.”
Jo describes her style as “eclectic” and enjoys blending older items of sentimental value with all the comforts of a truly modern home. Art Nouveau-style Tiffany lamps bought from Barnitts in York, old photographs and treasured pieces of furniture passed down through generations of her family appear perfectly at home in their contemporary surroundings, largely because the overall look and feel of the house is timeless thanks to the wealth of traditional features and a largely neutral colour palette. A lazy Susan made from an old oak barrel, which Jo picked up at the market in York, and a solid wood dining table surrounded by leather-backed chairs from Beverley Pine add warmth and texture to the otherwise sleek, white kitchen.
Statement pieces, such as the Barker & Stonehouse chairs in the film room, add a vibrant pop of colour, with many of the rooms punctuated by touches of teal or mustard.
*Pictures by Greg Pedder.
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