One morning over breakfast on holiday, Mike Godfrey was idly browsing estate agents’ websites when he chanced upon a plot of land for sale in the Hampshire countryside, with far-reaching views of the surrounding hills.
He called out to wife Diane, rang the agent immediately and made an appointment to see the plot the very next day. ‘We’d always wanted to build our own home,’ explains Diane, ‘but had never been able to find the right plot, so we knew what a golden opportunity this was.’
Previously home to derelict dairy farm buildings, the two-and-a-half-acre plot came with planning permission for a new-build house and was only being offered for sale because another buyer had pulled out of a deal at the last minute. Diane and Mike moved swiftly to purchase the plot, not far from their existing home in the New Forest.
They then worked with ARC Architecture to design a more elegant house than had been approved (albeit based on a similar footprint) and re-applied for planning permission.
Diane, who took time out to front the project, and Mike, who runs a wealth- management company, had clear ideas of what they aimed to achieve with the design of the five-bedroom house.
The couple have two adult sons who visit regularly, and they also enjoy entertaining friends. ‘We wanted simple, understated elegance and a contemporary feel that felt appropriate within a traditional build,’ says Diane, ‘and a good sense of flow between the ground-floor rooms that worked with both small and larger gatherings.’
At the beginning of the 17-month-build, and after following up recommendations, they met Nick Anderson, director of kitchen company Guild Anderson, to discuss their kitchen.
‘Nick immediately understood our wish list and we loved the way he was able to give a contemporary twist to classic cabinetry,’ says Diane, who chose a palette of soft shades of grey and white to create a gentle and restful scheme.
‘Mike particularly wanted somewhere to have breakfast looking out over the fields and Nick came up with the banquette idea, which is a great addition to the room.’
And would the couple take on a new build again? ‘Not a chance! The all-consuming nature of the project surprised us both,’ says Diane, ‘but we are delighted with the result.’
Q&A with Nick Anderson, designer and director, Guild Anderson
How did you begin the layout? The kitchen has lots of large windows and several entry points, resulting in limited wall space for cabinetry. So we initially concentrated on creating what is, in essence, a simple and practical galley-style layout, based on a symmetrical wall run and island. The wall run has tall housing for appliances at one end, balanced by a Bowman cupboard at the other, with a window centrally positioned between the two. The dishwasher and storage for crockery and cutlery are close to the sink, positioned away from the main cooking zone.
Can you tell us about the island? It has a dramatic nine-drawer front to accentuate its role as the main feature of the room, and provides plenty of prep surface, cooking area and storage. It is also designed so that one person can be cooking and another clearing up, without getting under each other’s feet. Typically, island seating faces ‘into’ the kitchen, but here we wanted to create an area for breakfast with views over the fields, hence the table area with comfortable banquette seating. The downside, however, is that anyone sitting here has their back to the prep area – so the bar stools at the other end of the island are for Mike to perch on as he chats to Diane while she cooks, and vice versa.
And the design of the cabinetry? In keeping with Diane and Mike’s wish for a timeless look, it’s classic framed furniture, with a simple moulding applied all the way around the drawer fronts, and only vertically on the doors, to enhance their elegance. This design gives a bolder, more contemporary twist on traditional hand-painted furniture.
Photos by Paul Craig.