The Stables and Coach House, neglected for decades, had walls creeping towards collapse and rotten beams threatening to fail. Sunlight struggled through dusty windows and cobwebs to reveal glimpses of treasures within: a pinky-grey Pennant stone floor, giant oak floorboards, worn timber and iron stable partitioning and hay racks all survived. Our client, a polo player, felt a deep affinity with the history and patina of the old stables and wanted to create an open plan entertaining space away from the main house with a relaxed living space as a counterpoint to the formality of their Georgian house and its grand rooms. Our brief was for luxurious informality, whilst keeping the sense of timelessness of the Stables and Coach House.
A detailed condition survey was undertaken with a Structural Engineer who advised on the elements that could remain, needed repair or, as last resort, replaced. We sought initially to make the building structurally sound, which required the careful weaving of steel around existing timbers to strengthen timbers and prevent walls moving further. The buildings were all reroofed with the original slates, stone walls repaired and pointed with lime. To allow the building to breath we used timber fibre insulation finished with a lime plaster, giving a softer finish than modern gypsum plaster.
Where possible we relaid stone floors. In the stables we replaced concrete with a new underfloor heated stone floor which matched the original in colour and texture and brought a continuity to the whole. The old oak boards, bowed and twisted, were carefully cleaned, waxed and buffed to reveal their true colour and texture; whilst they would be condemned in any new build, retaining their original elements brought more to the whole than the simpler solution of boarding over. The original partitions were similarly repaired to bring a richness to the room with their time-worn rough texture, practically supporting the stairs at the same time as separating the kitchen and stairs from the main living space.
Lighting consists of minimal fixed lights that are focused where essential in bathrooms and kitchens, but otherwise chandeliers and floor and wall lamps are utilised; this brings a warmth and flexibility depending on whether the couple are watching a film in the evening or hosting a small supper party. We have become experts in hiding the technology we are reliant upon, and in this project we tucked all the media and security systems out of sight whilst keeping them accessible, allowing the space to double up as a home office when required.