Design aficionados Robin and Patricia Silver are selling their beautiful self-built home. Sharon Dale reports.
Robin and Patricia Silver are best known as founders of The Home at Salts Mill in Saltaire. The interiors store opened 25 years ago and is the go-to place for those who recognise and appreciate good design.
There are few who can rival the Silvers’ extensive knowledge, their enthusiasm for their specialised subject and their democratic approach. While a Swan chair designed by Arne Jacobsen will set you back £2,660, you’ll also find Ritzenhoff mugs from £10.50 each, all carefully chosen. Everything has earned its place and the couple can tell you the story behind every item.
They have taken a similar approach to their own home, which is now on the market with Beadnall Copley for £865,000.
The property in the sought-after village of Huby, near Harrogate, is a sensational self-build and a lesson in thoughtful design.
The light, the views, the flow and the decor work together to create a calm, harmonious feel. While the rooms have been carefully curated, each feels comfortable and homely.
“According to a friend of ours who studied feng shui, the location and the flow here is perfect and the house does have a very calming effect,” says Patricia, a former fashion designer.
She and Robin had the house built 18 years ago after buying an old orchard plot on a private road. Along with its location in Huby, which is within easy reach of Harrogate, Otley and Leeds, the site backs on to woodland.
Determined to build a modern home, the couple had to fight for what they wanted thanks to the planning authority’s aversion to a contemporary design.
“They wanted us to build a box with a garage round the back and that’s the last thing we wanted,” says Patricia.
She and Robin compromised slightly on the front elevation and had to use red rather than their preferred grey brick but they got what they wanted at the rear.
Inside is everything they hoped for: a flexible, energy-efficient, light-filled living space that looks as fresh and modern now as it did when it was first built.
Set over three levels, the steel-framed property also has an integral heated garage. The contemporary front door opens onto an entrance hall with a glazed atrium and a polished concrete floor.
Concrete runs through the whole ground floor following advice from their daughter, Ruth Hudson Silver, now a York-based architect.
It has proved to be a great investment as it unifies the space, and is robust and warm thanks to the underfloor heating.
“It’s like a giant radiator and very easy to keep clean. We were very lucky because our builders knew a man who laid concrete floors in dairies, so he was well practised and did a great job,” says Patricia.
The immaculate kitchen has a curved wall and is minimalist featuring top quality units by Siematic, which look as new today as they did when they were installed.
“The kitchen was chosen because we knew it wouldn’t date. It was a big investment but it has stood the test of time,” says Patricia.
Glazed panels separate the large sitting room and dining area from the kitchen while another set of the floor-to-ceiling glass dividers create separation from the adjoining garden room while transferring natural light.
A generous utility room ensures that the messy business of laundry and cleaning contraptions is hidden away.
Bespoke cabinets in the sitting area, including one with a piano hinge door to conceal the TV, were built by a joiner and ensure that clutter is kept out of sight.
“It’s a very tidy house as I like surfaces to be clear, except for my bedside, which has two huge piles of magazines next to it,” says Patricia.
On the first floor, there is a spacious landing that doubles as a library for a vast collection of art and design books. The principal bedroom has a partial wall behind the bed, which hides a dressing area with fitted wardrobes and the en-suite. There’s also a guest bedroom with en-suite, a third double bedroom and a house bathroom.
The 23ft long room on the second floor, which has views to Almscliffe Crag, could be a fourth bedroom.
The walls in the house are mostly white and grey and act as a neutral backdrop for colourful artwork, including Hockney and Festival of Britain posters along with framed fabric.
The latter is by Patricia’s favourite designer Lucienne Day, whose work she collects. She also has a passion for vintage Poole, Bitossi and Arabia pottery.
This reflects Robin and Patricia’s love of mid-century design, which spawned luminaries likes Charles and Ray Eames, Arne Jacobsen, George Nelson, Florence Knoll and Robin and Lucienne Day.
The couple’s furniture, much of which was conceived during that period, is proof that design classics never date.
“And quality never goes out of style,” adds Robin.
The Danish dining chairs from Carl Hansen were designed in 1964, the Womb chair in the sitting room was conceived by Eero Saarinen in 1946 and the sculptural Bird chair in the garden room is a 1952 design by Harry Bertoia.
Almost all the furniture is available from The Home, so if the new owner wants to replicate the interior design they can.
It’s a lifetime’s collection for Robin and Patricia and they will be taking it with them when they move.
“We recognise we should move while we can, not when we have to but I’ll be in floods of tears when I leave because I have loved living here ” says Patricia. “We are keen to build again but this time on one level, so we are looking for a plot or for an old bungalow that we can knock around.”
*16a Holly Park, Huby, near Harrogate, is £865,000 and is on the market with Beadnall Copley, tel: 01423 503500, www.beadnallcopley.co.uk.