On the level '“ it's bungalow bliss

Turning a dated bungalow into a modern home took design prowess and professional help. Sharon Dale reports. Pictures by Gary Longbottom.

Buyers are waking up to the fact that dated bungalows hold plenty of promise.

They often sit on decent-size plots and offer scope to extend both up and out. But while you gain more square footage, creating a cohesive look and feel inside and out can be difficult.

That's why employing a good architect is a good investment.

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Mark and Sarah Stower are delighted they brought in the professionals when deciding what to do with their bungalow near York.

“We originally thought that we would do a loft conversion but we consulted an architect and he came back with a much better idea,” says Mark.

The result is a beautiful, contemporary home that perfectly suits the needs of Mark, Sarah and their two daughters, Heidi, seven, and Rosie, three.

The decision to buy the detached, 1970s bungalow came after the couple opted to move from the edge of York to a semi- suburban village in easy travelling distance of the city. The village is popular as it fringes countryside so choice was limited.

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“We really wanted a project and |I had my eye on this bungalow because it had potential. Two sales had fallen through it ended up being put into auction,” says Mark, who paid £200,000.

They lived in the house for a year before asking James Arkle of Arkle Boyce Architects to help with a redesign.

He came up with a host of fresh and exciting ideas to help them make the most of the building and the rear garden.

James says: “We were originally approached to undertake a loft conversion but we felt this would be a compromised solution given the lack of roof space.

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“So, in collaboration with Mark and Sarah, we developed a scheme to demolish the existing, unsightly flat roof extensions and the asbestos garage and to extend the ground floor accommodation into the unused side garden.

“The original bungalow is now bedroom space and the extension creates a new, open plan living space that also encloses the south-facing garden. This has made the perfect hidden oasis.”

A graceful, sail-style roof on the rear extension is a clever architectural touch that adds interest.

The original proposal was to timber clad the whole property but planning officers weren't keen. After extensive negotiations, it was decided that the Stowers would use materials that partly reflected the neighbouring properties.

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So, the existing bungalow was rendered and a 1960s-style, long brick from York Handmade Brick Company was used on the side of the extension. This was a nod to tradition while giving a sleek contemporary look.

The rear, which is hidden from public view, is clad in Frake, a sustainable hardwood.

James Arkle says: “The garden feels altogether different now thanks to the folded roof and the elevations clad in timber. We included large, glazed sliding doors in the house and they look onto the garden and courtyard. It means that the house feels a million miles away from its suburban setting.”

All who see it agree that it is a creative and welcome alternative to the average suburban home extension but planning permission wasn't straightforward due to some opposition. But after reducing the size of the extension and agreeing materials, the Stowers got the go-ahead.

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They were helped by the fact that the neighbourhood is characterised by a general lack of uniformity.

The couple also successfully argued that the existing driveway at the side of the house should be relocated to the front of the property, where it had originally been.

“It was a nightmare. It led straight onto the road and it was incredibly difficult and dangerous to get a car in and out. Moving it has been a big help and it means that we have a bigger and more private garden,” says Mark.

The work was carried out by Westfield Construction and took eight months, during which time the family moved into rented accommodation nearby. They spent a long time liaising with the builders and negotiated a fixed price contract.

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“We did a test before work started which showed we were on six metres of clay so needed extra deep pile foundations, which added £18,000 to the contract price. I would advise anyone planning an extension to do their homework first as something like that could come as a shock otherwise,” says Mark.

The decor inside is neutral and contemporary with engineered oak flooring and off-white walls.

The kitchen is from Howdens with a quartz worktop from Belgravia Stone.

“We looked at more expensive kitchens but decided that while the children are young it would be better to go for something cheaper,” says Mark, who added pendant lights from Habitat.

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A wood-burning stove on a concrete plinth gives a cosy feel and the window above frames the trees outside to create a living picture. The vintage Blaupunkt stereogram belonged to Sarah's grandmother and the dining area features an Ercol table and chairs.

The old part of the bungalow has been reconfigured to provide three bedrooms, a bathroom, en-suite and a spacious hallway with a wall of storage cupboards. The front door has also been moved. The cost of the transformation came in at £175,000 and has been well worth it.

“The house is light and spacious and it flows beautifully. We love it,” says Mark. “What James did is brilliant. I never dreamed the bungalow we bought could ever be this good.”

Arkle Boyce Architects, www.arkleboyce.co.uk

Westfield Construction, www.westfieldconstruction.com

York Handmade Brick Company, www.yorkhandmade.co.uk

Howdens, www.howdens.com

Belgravia Stone worktop, www.belgraviastone.com