July 13, 2019
The ethos of Dewlands Garden Design is to design you a garden that works beautifully in both an aesthetic and functional sense with your house. One of the ways we excel in delivering on this goal is by designing and building incredible extensions that make your house the perfect place from which to enjoy your garden. With four renovations and extensions under his belt, our founder, Eugene Hill, explains what he enjoys so much about designing and building extensions – and how his designs work to create a cohesive fusion of house and garden.
A different perspective
You might think that the first place to start for designing an extension is an architect, but Eugene’s combination of high engineering expertise and landscape design and creativity brings a different perspective that can help create a seamless living space, indoors and out.
“Being an experienced garden designer, having learnt and done the training to create beautiful outdoor spaces, means I think very well about how my houses and extensions work with the landscape and the garden. I’m always thinking about the views that can be created, the behaviour of the sunlight, how the garden will be used, how to make it practical – and I think people buy into that, it’s why people might use me rather than an architect.”
Of course, having an eye for design is one thing, but you need to know they’re going to stand up – and stand the test of time. This is where Eugene’s first-class degree in engineering and his hands-on experience is invaluable, but he is mindful of his limits: “I’m careful not to be overly ambitious; I do sometimes work with architects, but you need always to have an understanding of what your capabilities are, what can be done and how much risk you’re prepared to take on a project. Anything that’s an extension to an existing house, something rural with a contemporary twist, maybe a small studio, office, annex or barn conversion is perfect for me because I have ways of making it work with the surrounding landscape for a house that looks beautiful with the garden.”
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding – and Eugene has a number of successful projects to demonstrate his architectural design expertise, including a large extension and major barn conversion for his own family, plus other extensions for clients: “I think having hands-on experience makes a big difference when it comes to design. There are architects out there who have hands-on experience, but not loads. If you want something bespoke, a bit specific to that site, something that works with the garden, then the combination of my design background and experiences dealing with the hands-on building really comes to the forefront and makes me stand out.”
His own building projects have utilised local materials, such as Sussex sandstone and oak: “They give a traditional feel but make it look very modern inside, with clean lines and lovely material blending. And that’s what makes me a good person to come to for designing an extension – I’ve done it all for myself and lived with what I’ve created. My qualifications, practical experience and three-dimensional design skills allow me to create great extensions, and I’ve also had a lifelong interest in it.”
Early ambitions of design
If you know Eugene, it’s not surprising that his work has expanded into designing extensions that seamlessly blend house and garden – in fact, architecture was his first career choice, but a downturn in the housing market persuaded him to follow his father and grandfather into engineering: “I opted for engineering at university, but as a kid I was into working with three-dimensional shapes; I loved sculptures and clay, and I’ve spent my entire adult life thinking about making things with a practical, human use.
“I bought my first house at 21 in Newcastle and my first experience with working on practical home solutions came from there; it started with designing bits of furniture for the house and then solving problems outside. The house backed onto the Tyne, but had no way of enjoying the river; I jigged up a set of steps that went from the outside wall to some railings so that I could get out and enjoy the water. It’s little things like that – finding practical solutions to the problems I encounter – that has allowed me to build extensions as a garden designer.”
“Today I’m known for designing gardens more than extensions, but I think over time, my portfolio will demonstrate much more the buildings and landscapes that I’ve created and how they work together with the garden to create an ideal outdoor space that pairs beautifully with the house.”