The ultimate handmade home

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This quirky cottage in Addingham has been transformed into the ultimate handmade home. Sharon Dale reports. Pictures by Bruce Rollinson.

Lawyer Philip Williams isn’t your average “desk pilot”. Over the years, the multi-talented DIYer has got himself an NVQ in plumbing and an electrical qualification and honed his carpentry skills.

The cable reel was �20 from eBay and Philip made it into a dining table. The lightshades are from Made.com at Redbrick Mill, Batley

The cable reel was �20 from eBay and Philip made it into a dining table. The lightshades are from Made.com at Redbrick Mill, Batley

“I almost went to building college but then opted for university and a legal career,” he says. “At one point, I left law and set up my own business installing handmade kitchens and working as a handyman, which was enjoyable until the company got bigger.”

He returned to work as a private client solicitor five years ago but gets his “building fix” by working on his own home. His latest project is this quirky cottage in Addingham. Small, dated, dark and damp, many would-be buyers were petrified by the amount of work needed when it came up for sale three years ago. Philip relished the challenge that the 230-year-old property offered.

“There was water running down the walls and it was in a very sorry state but I could see the potential and I loved its character,” says Philip, who was keen to live in the village, near Ilkley, which has easy access to the Dales and to Leeds via the Wharfedale line.

The first job was to apply for planning permission to build a small single-storey oak and stone extension. The next was to dig out a section of the garden to ensure the sitting room was above ground level and damp free.

The sitting room where Philip uncovered the original fireplace and a blocked-up window

The sitting room where Philip uncovered the original fireplace and a blocked-up window

“The garden was right up to the house and came up to the window sill at the back and that’s where a lot of the damp came from,” says Philip, who also installed a damp-proof course.

Draughts and cold were combated with a new roof and insulation in the walls, floors and ceilings before reconfiguring the space on each of three levels. On the ground floor, what was one large room and one small one is now semi open plan and leads into the new extension. Philip’s decision to take out the internal doors and knock a huge hole in the chimney breast between the sitting room and the kitchen made this possible, although it was an expensive structural job requiring steels.

“It was worth it because I was able to put some kitchen units in there so I have more storage space,” he says.

His fearless approach also uncovered the old fireplace hidden in the second chimney breast and a blocked-up window in the sitting room, which he reinstated to provide more natural light. More daylight filters through from the new extension thanks to a trio of large windows. Philip’s least favourite feature was the staircase but after sanding the orange varnish off, he exposed the natural oak treads. They lead to the first-floor guest bedroom and an office in what used to be the bathroom. The second floor has a new shower room and a master bedroom.

Philip in the semi-open plan space that allows more light into the rooms

Philip in the semi-open plan space that allows more light into the rooms

Most of the walls are white, which is a great backdrop for artwork, including a screenprint by Talia Russell featuring the cottage and a view of Beamsley Beacon. A keen cyclist, Philip’s collection of prints featuring local and European bike climbs are from Ilkley-based outthesaddle.com.

His love of designing, making and upcycling is also evident. The dining room table is fashioned from a giant industrial cable reel that he found on eBay for £20. The kitchen worktops are made from scaffold boards and what were some old stone shelves have been repurposed as window sills.

Philip has also customised an Ikea picture frame by putting a slot in it so he can fill it up with his collection of tickets from music and sporting events.

“I love the creative challenge of making things. It’s more satisfying than buying them. The hearth is from stone slabs I found in the garden and I made the kitchen storage rack and my desk using Interclamp handrails that you see in public buildings,” says Philip, who paid special attention to the lighting. His state-of-the-art scheme, using industrial-style lighting and filament bulbs, adds atmosphere and illuminates dark corners.

The cottage with its new single-storey extension

The cottage with its new single-storey extension

Outside, he has made new gardens front and back. The stone that came from the chimney breast and from opening up the house into the new extension has been used to build gabion walls, planters and a wood store, while the patio is made from old stone roof slates.

It’s all impressive but the star of the show is a life-size sheep. “I got it from Pinecraft in Otley and had to carry it through town to my car on a very busy day. I got quite a bit of abuse, as you can imagine,” laughs Philip who painted his ewe in a Farrow & Ball green.

The final touch to the exterior was cladding the pebble-dashed garage and utility room in ebony stained wood, leaving the cottage looking fabulous inside and out.

“It is the most work I have ever done on a property. I spent most weekends and evenings here for 10 months before I moved in but it has been really enjoyable,” says Philip, who now has itchy feet after three years at the cottage and has put it on the market.

“I love this house but I’m ready for another project. It’s what makes me happy,” he says.

Forge Cottage, Addingham, is for sale at £350,000 with Hunters, tel: 01943 660500, hunters.com

The life-size sheep has been painted in Farrow and Ball

The life-size sheep has been painted in Farrow and Ball

* Oliver Smith, building and roofing, oliversmith.builders

Dave Doyle, DD Decorators, tel: 07967 825745

Wesley Bell plastering, tel: 07752 741066

Gardenware, Roman blinds and Sophie Allport crockery sourced 
from Addingham village shops H&G Adams Ironmongery and the Olive Branch.

Light shades, enamelshades.co.uk

Cycling prints, outthesaddle.com and blockculture.co.uk

Screenprint by Talia Russell, artfinder.com/taliarussell

The stairs look better after being stripped of their orange varnish. Left the original deeds to the house

The stairs look better after being stripped of their orange varnish. Left the original deeds to the house

The colourful guest bedroom with bed linen from Ikea

The colourful guest bedroom with bed linen from Ikea