Architect Ian Hogarth admits his latest project in Bude is about creating life-enhancing living space that avoids the bland and embraces the light…
Once you recognise Claire Farrow and her architect husband Ian Hogarth as the proud owners of the London house with its own light-up dance floor which featured in Grand Designs, you will probably expect something a little colourful and fun in their latest Cornish adventure.
And the four houses which now sit side by side on Ash Row overlooking Crooklets Beach in Bude are vibrant additions to this popular part of Cornwall. The Yellow House gets its nickname from the colour of the walls. Architect and developer Ian said he wanted the colours of the four houses – blue, yellow and pink – to be reminiscent of ice cream.
Ian, who grew up in Morecambe, and wife Claire, who holidayed in Cornwall as a child, already
own a home in nearby Northcott Mouth when they bought the piece of land – then occupied by an uninspiring bungalow – in 2013.
Claire admits it was designed to keep Ian busy during family holidays. ‘Ian has itchy feet,’ she says. ‘We bought it at auction and it gave Ian something to do when we were on holiday.’
Although this is their first adventure as property developers, Ian and Claire are old hands at building for themselves. Their most famous build – and their current home – featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs five years ago where a scrap of land in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea was turned into their dream home – most memorably featuring a light-up dance floor in their basement. The house still attracts 1,500 visitors during their annual open day.
Working together, Claire is in charge of finding the sites and managing the budgets, something that is a steep learning curve for Ian, an architect more used to considering his own wishlist – or that of a client – than the budgetary constraints of a property developer who has to consider building cost verses selling price.
Originally the plan was to build three houses, but in the end they found room for four, each one painted in vibrant colours, reminiscent of the colourful ice creams on sale at the nearby café.
‘I would hate to do a bland house,’ admits Ian. ‘And if you can’t use ice cream colours at the seaside, where can you?’ Public opinion on the colour remains divided. ‘The planners didn’t like the colours,’ admits Ian. ‘But colour doesn’t come into planning. The local residents were split: about 60 per cent said they didn’t like it but 40 per cent of people thought they were amazing.’
Colour aside, planning was easily granted – the only contentious issue was flood defences as a small stream runs along the front of the houses.
And look beyond the coloured render of the walls and you will find a sympathetic design which connects to the nearby houses, mostly by use of gable ends. The houses are built using polar walls (polarwall.co.uk), which is two sheets of polystyrene filled in the middle with concrete. It creates incredibly strong walls with great insulation. Together with the heat recovery ventilation system and the under floor heating, the cost of running the house will be minimal – with the added plus of no radiators. ‘There’s no radiator in the world that is that attractive,’ says Ian. ‘Open plan houses are hard to do with radiators; you always get hotspots and cold spots.’
We begin on the second floor which is dominated by a large open plan living space where large windows and glass doors take in the view of Bude.
It is quickly apparent that light is the major architectural feature in the Yellow House where even small internal window swaps light with a small area set aside from the main living space for office working. Small accessories in each room provide a welcome flash of colour against white walls and pale floors. The open plan living area is awash with orange. Here a descreet white gloss designer kitchen sits against a wall interspersed with Miele appliances – including a spacious wine chiller while a large bespoke dining table features chairs in a vibrant orange – a colour which is repeated in other accessories. A corner is cut out of the living space for an outdoor deck, but disappearing glass walls create an indoor/outdoor living space encased in frosted glass for maximum privacy.
A large white gloss kitchen island is home to a near-invisible Miele induction hob and a second seating area and provides a useful boundary between the brightly lit dining space and the living room where a corner sofa big enough to house several families faces a wood burner and flat screen TV cleverly set into a bespoke wall recess. The room is dominated by two of Ian’s interior design ideas. A slab of concrete which houses wood for the burner and his old long board surf board, retired from
active service after its nose was broken. ‘That’s what happens when a 60-year-old goes out for a surf,’ jokes Ian.
Perhaps more surprisingly, the living room is split by a wide fixed ladder which disappears in to the loft space inviting one to explore a yoga studio which sits above the kitchen.
In three storey houses the stairs can often dominate, but here simple white stairs have been cleverly hidden behind a laser-cut metal sheet on the second and first floors which allows light through. A strip light hidden inside also doubles as a light feature at night.
The Yellow House features decked areas on all three floors looking out towards the beach that sits at the bottom of the road to the right and also a nearby links golf course. Outside the wall colours include the specially-created pink render named after Mexican architect – and Pritzker Prize winner – Luis Barragán.
The 2,508 sq ft house is currently configured with six bedrooms across the ground and
first floor including a family bathroom, four en suite wetrooms, two with access to their own sun deck as well as two double bunk bedrooms which provide sleeping for four people each. Each room has its own accent colour which takes on a dayglo feel in the bright sunlight of North Cornwall’s coast.
There are many architectural touches to be discovered on a slow tour. Doors are frame-free to
help them disappear into the wall and soften the central corridor space. Door handles are set lower at hand height, taking them out of your line of sight. And the ground floor boasts its own beach entrance, passing through an outdoor wet room including a shower and hose to clean your wetsuit before entering a spacious utility room.
But ask Ian his favourite feature of the house and the answer is something of a surprise. ‘It wouldn’t be something inside the house – but outside: the view.
‘As a developer you have to teach yourself to take care of the purse strings – you can understand how developers end up building bland house – but I would rather live in a house that is life-enhancing and that was the aim here.’
Now just about complete, one of the houses has already sold, while two – including the Yellow House – are about to earn their keep as holiday lets. A third is for sale with an asking prize of £775,000 helping to fund the couple’s next Cornish adventure, which Claire says has already begun.