Taking a novel approach to bringing a design to life is nothing new in ONE17's book.

We report on a Dickens of a project.


All photography © ONE17

Despite what it says in big stainless steel letters on the gateway from the street, the last house on the right as you travel south west along Westgate, the main street in the large Yorkshire village of Honley, is anything but bleak. Perched up above the road behind a protective stone wall backed by a further layer of sheltering planting, this handsome detached family home enjoys an enviable position. It has privacy, views across to the neighbouring park, good sized mature gardens and a coach house reached across a cobbled yard.

Plus there is access to a wealth of amenities within a short stroll of the kitchen door. Honley has everything:  butchers, bakers, trombone makers – honestly – plus cafés, restaurants and the kind of old-fashioned ironmongers that draws you like a magnet and you emerge blinking into the sunlight hours later weighed down with all manner of tools and equipment you didn’t know you needed.

So, in the words of the younger members of the office, what’s not to like? Well, not much in truth, but when the owners of Bleak House, Jill and Ian Swire, approached ONE17 with a view to remodelling some of the accommodation, it was clear that evolution, not revolution was the order of the day.

A new rear entrance with porch and cloakroom did away with the old back door that brought you straight into the kitchen. Talking of which, a larger and remodelled kitchen was designed, as well as an enhanced utility room. A great result in itself but this original north eastern section of the house was only single storey. Careful planning enabled a staircase to be inserted to access a new floor of accommodation above. This new first floor suite is totally private, with no access to the rest of the first floor. The large bedroom and ensuite bathroom offer a perfect retreat from the hubbub of the rest of the house but are only a short flight of steps from the heart of the home.

At the other end of house, the attractive south west aspect and attendant afternoon and evening sun were not being exploited to their fullest extent. A new garden room, echoing in plan form the existing adjacent lounge, makes a bold addition to the “ship’s prow” of the house that looks out across the garden. The extensive areas of glass in this new room take maximum benefit of the orientation. What’s more, a linear library links the garden room with the main central hallway by wrapping itself around the formal dining room and creating a more fluid and interesting sequence of spaces than the series of discrete rooms that previously existed. This has been made possible by the new rear entrance that made the seldom-used ‘front’ porch and doorway redundant.

The project is interesting not only as an architectural scheme. It highlights the total service that ONE17 can offer with structural engineering, interior design and project management all involved. In fact Bleak House is being built using a new procurement path that ONE17 is finding very attractive to clients. Instead of putting much of the scheme in the hands of a main contractor who chooses subcontractors and negotiates with them at arm’s length, the client enters into a cost plus management contract with ONE17, whereby we set up a client project bank account and manage the engagement and payment of suppliers and tradespeople undertaking the work from this account on an open book basis.

Tradespeople have greater security of payment – if the client does not keep the bank account in funds, work simply stops – and concentration can be on the quality of the work, not haggling. If you think this approach could work for your project, please contact us for more details.

Ultimately a satisfied client, a beautifully finished project and the minimum of disruption to what is always a stressful business is the aim. Bleak House before the remodelling began was a distinctive and attractive home.

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