The Avanti Group Boiler House Designs
I T'S all about space, light and design for living, according to the couple, whose artistic backgrounds have influenced how this house works for them. Julian, an arts manager at Nottingham University, and Helena, an artist and researcher, moved to Nottingham from Manchester for work.
Helena was born in Nottingham and says that returning has given her a renewed confidence and energy, allowing her to refocus her creativity and allowing them to continue on their work path – they plan to move back to Manchester.
"We'll be sad to go but it's where we met and where our friends and our daughter live. We've had three stimulating years here but we feel it is the right thing to do for us – it's a bit like leaving a party early."
The couple, along with their daughters, had previously lived in a Victorian house before Julian and Helena moved to Nottingham. While they loved the house, Julian said they wanted a "house that worked": no ill-fitting windows, or deteriorating plasterwork, no draughts...
So when this 1969-built home came into focus, they knew they could make it their own and like new – new 60s-style, that is.
Julian said: "We saw the potential in the house. It is an unusual home with lots of natural light."
Helena recalls seeing the house for the first time. They were being shown the area by a friend.
"As we turned up this road (Park Road) it was like being on holiday. We holidayed in Cornwall when we were little and in the spring, it is just like this – a little Cornish lane with the trees growing over the road."
"I was instantly struck by the design and as soon as I saw the open-plan 60s staircase, I knew instantly we were going to buy."
Julian added: "For me, it was the views on to the garden."
It's one of a pair of Scandinavian-inspired houses designed by Architects Design Group. The couple have completely upgraded its interior but kept to the sentiment of its period and the original architect's vision. In fact, they invited the architect, Bob Cullen, back to see it so that they could fully understand his influences.
Helena said: "The 60s was a great period. There was a sense of energy and risk. I love the optimism of the time and the 'just go for it' attitude, which is what we see in the architecture, and we have honed in on that in the way we have decorated it."
There is the Scandinavian influence with the original wooden partially-vaulted ceiling in the lounge, picture windows, the light of the hallway and the clean lines of the open-plan dining kitchen. Specially-sourced wallpaper has been selected for the bedrooms... and yet there are modern fittings that blend in, such as the array of A and A+ rated integrated kitchen appliances and the luxury family bathroom.
It's true that while there is a nod to the past, the couple haven't neglected the present or future. Sustainability and insulation have been considered, LED lighting installed, cavity wall insulation, a new heating system with a Vaillant condensing combination boiler and a 16-panel Sharp solar PV array, which produces approximately £900 per year from a feed-in tariff – guaranteed and index-linked for 25 years (23 years remaining) – and free electricity when generating, estimated at a further £141 per year.
Julian said: "When we moved in, the house had an energy rating of 'E'. It is now 'B' – it's been an interesting challenge to get the energy costs down".
It is clear that the couple have enjoyed this house. Helena said: "We really like its design and it's so easy to look after.
"We had thought of extending and got architectural firm Marsh Grochowski in to design an extension to create an additional ground-floor living space, bedroom above and an en suite. We have planning permission for this but once we started living here... well, it just worked for us as it stood."
While the couple didn't carry out the extension work, they did implement improvements suggested by the firm.
They replaced solid doors with glass to feed the light from the hall into the kitchen and changed window styles and sizes so that the light and views are uninterrupted (the windows creating "frames" to the views).
They've added an electric remote-controlled Velux roof light on the landing, again increasing natural light, and have separated spaces within the utility room/cloakroom/WC.
Outside, they've cleared spaces so that there are plenty of seating areas around the house. "It is simply a case of seeing the house in relation to the garden so that the whole is used and enjoyed", said Julian.
"For instance, we've altered the windows in the study (this could be used as additional reception room or fourth bedroom), so that it's connected with the garden, rethinking how we use the house and enjoy the light and space – we hope in line with what Bob Cullen had envisaged."
Another aspect of the house that the couple love is its location. Park Road was built as an early-Victorian garden suburb, although today it has a mix of housing.
Helena says: "We have amazingly quick access to Beeston. It's three minutes' walk to the bottom of the road and to Chilwell High Road where there are interesting shops – a deli, arts and craft shop, trendy wool shop, cafes and restaurants... It's just 20 minutes' walk to the railway station and from here you can be in London in just under two hours.
"There'll be a tram stop at the bottom of the road and we have plenty of buses into Nottingham.
"It looks a bit chaotic at the moment with the tram works but that won't last for long – I just don't think people appreciate what a clever place we are in when it comes to transport links to the city, university and wider region."
And for those who want to drive, the house has a double garage and parking as well as its gardens and there is quick access to the M1 motorway.
Helena concluded: "This is a great house and location and 58 Park Road is now waiting for new people to enjoy it."