To say that homeowners Anne-Maren and Tobias Phillips are not afraid of hard work is no understatement. When they first viewed their house – which was originally a pair of twostorey red brick Victorian workers cottages but had been put badly together some time in the 1980s – they could see how much of a challenge they had ahead of them, but were not put off. ‘We saw the views to the river and felt the character here and knew it was right for us,’ says Anne-Maren.


‘The whole of the ground floor was one uninsulated solid concrete slab,’ explains Tobias, who commutes daily between their Suffolk abode and the City. ‘This had been causing a lot of damp issues which the previous owners had tried all sorts of techniques to fix, but we did what was the only thing to do and dug back to the dirt.’



With a little help from their friends, as well as a lot of back-breaking work on their own, the couple, who have three children; Alva, eight; Idunn, five and Rasmus, two (Anne-Maren was pregnant at the time), set to work excavating the concrete and hardcore themselves. The floor was built back up with recycled glass insulation and a limecrete slab containing the underfloor heating. In order to rectify the issues in the walls and re-insulate, they had to rip out everything back to bare brick, stripping off all the plaster in the process.


‘We then insulated internally with hemp and boarded with Fermacell for a healthy, eco-friendly construction,’ says Tobias. ‘The whole houses is designed to breathe and let moisture escape. To be honest, even though it was a lot of work, it feels good to know and understand everything inside these walls and floors.’



The couple applied the same approach to the design of their kitchen, which is a mix of materials including stainless steel, recycled pine, slate and marble. ‘We’ve added some left over cupboards from the original kitchen on the end of the island and painted the end walls of the cupboard unit with blackboard paint,’ says Anne-Maren. ‘The brushed metal kickboard looks really great against the soft greyness of the limecrete floor and we sourced some leftover marble from the local stone mason for the worktop. We find it is just the best for baking and tempering chocolate on.’


The result is a combination of textured grey limecrete, brushed steel, red bricks and aged wood combining to look stylishly stunning in this family friendly and functional space. ‘We love the feel here. It just feels like home’ says Anne-Maren, ‘And a home that we literally made with our bare hands together.


Photos by Malcolm Menzies


Styling by Kay Prestney


Article by: Ciara Elliott