This is a project that couldn’t be closer to my heart. My parents were ready to downsize and wanted to spend more time with us and our children. With the perfect site just beyond our own front door, building them the home of their dreams seemed feasible and ideal. My brief was to create a modern, single-storey, two-bedroom home for them, with large windows that maximise fantastic views over a tranquil lake. That’s not the only source of water, though: my mother has always dreamed of having her own swimming pool, so I have incorporated one into the heart of the space. This is an ongoing project, so watch this space to see how The Pool House evolves over the coming months.
The plot is opposite our own barn conversion, which lies in farmland just outside Rotherfield. The site itself was once the farmyard and storage area and features a rustic Sussex sandstone wall that had fallen into disrepair. We brought it back to life by including it in our design, using the natural downwards slope of the landscape and ensuring that what was once a retaining wall now forms the external walls of the new building. This means that, from my family home, all we can see is that original stone wall, and the privacy of both generations is ensured. Another plus is that by reusing as much of the stone as possible to clad the outside of the new build, we’ve reduced the environmental impact, lowered costs and retained the rural charm of the overall plot. Working with our talented plantsman, we’ve created a deep flowerbed along the wall to enhance the view from the main house and provide privacy for all generations of our family. The aim is to create not just an ordinary annex, but the ultimate space in which my parents can enjoy their retirement.
The Pool House is designed to blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living, with the central outdoor pool creating a focal courtyard. The impact on the environment was at the forefront of our plans – we’ve used green building techniques to minimise heat loss and carbon footprint.
A cantilevered roof means a walkway around the house is covered, providing protection in all seasons. We’ve weather boarded the outside of the house, too – it already adds charm and will look even better as the wood ages. The addition of a planted Sedum roof blends the property into the East Sussex countryside, as well as improving thermal retention and drainage and creating a biodiverse, sustainable wildlife habitat.
The house forms a courtyard around a heated spa pool that sits in its centre, overlooking the natural lake in the grounds in beautiful Rotherfield near Crowborough. With large windows to admire the view and let in light, it makes the wildlife and foliage part of the living experience. The open terrace is perfect for both shade in summer and cover in autumn, so my parents can soak up the idyllic countryside views all year round.
As a designer, it’s so important to keep listening to clients, and to be aware that they may want to add or change elements of the design once they can visualise the space and how they will live in it. Working with my parents was no different in this and I feel if I can keep them happy, I can keep anyone happy! As I do for all our clients, I want to create a space my parents will love for years to come – and they might even let us use the pool, too!