In re-imagining the design of this Grade II-listed farmstead and converting a series of outbuildings, the architects added a sense of playfulness to everyday living.

cottage with a contemporary glass tunnel - conversion - grand designs

Image: The original cottage has been joined to the converted outbuildings with a modern, glazed tunnel. Photo: Jim Stephenson

It’s hard to imagine a house that would be more beloved by the children that live in it than Stanyards Cottage. The ’sticks and stones’ Grade II-listed cottage may seem inconspicuous at first glance, but in its renovation of this family home, architects Alter & Company have created an imaginative interior landscape. 

An undeniably happy space, a playful nature is at the core of this design down to the addition of novelty elements which while maybe not for the faint of heart, ensure that this family can take real enjoyment of their home. 

A new connection 

interior of glazed tunnel connection between houses - grand designs

Image: The tunnel signifies a change between the more traditioal and more modern spaces. Photo: Jim Stephenson

One of the key elements of the homeowners’ brief was to link up the cottage with a series of farm outbuildings. Alter’s intervention is an angular glass volume that bridges the space between the main house and the outbuildings. “The reflective and transparent tunnel purposely standout as a new piece of connective architecture,” the architects explain. “By its very nature, it implies a type of time travel – from a rural, historical past, to a new modern playful present and future.” 

Creating a landscape 

cottage interior with mix of materials - grand designs

Image: The space introduces plenty of levels to add interest to the large area. Photo: Jim Stephenson

The news spaces are expansive, creating an interior landscape through height and the use of raised platforms, all overlooking the main spaces. 

“By incorporating the farm buildings into the house, we sought to create a series of interconnected spaces with a dynamic relationship between indoors and outdoors,” Alter & Company explain. “The resulting configuration of rooms creates a sense of continuity between older and newer spaces with varying proportions, while several "sculptural landmarks" are used to enliven the journey through the building.”

The materials used are hardwearing and robust, with OSB and diamond plate metal stairs offering a youthful industrialism.

Read more: 4 pitfalls to avoid with architectural salvage

Fun factor

cottage renovation with children's slide - grand designs

Image: The slide sits among the original, restored outbuilding elements. Photo: Jim Stephenson

The materiality of the space continues to feel grown-up and respectful to the heritage of this period property; however, that hasn’t stopped the introduction of playful elements. Ask any child to draw the dream home and undoubtedly it will include a slide, but it’s just the obvious elements that add to this sense of wonder. 

Some of the buildings' original features, which were removed and restored before being reinserted into the reconfigured interiors, offer a history of the building that plays into the imagination, while the varying levels and hidden and sliding doors all suggest its a home that’s meant to be explored. 

hallway with children's netting above - grand designs

Image: In the hallway, netting has been suspended level with the second storey, providing more space for the kids to play and read. A yellow caged ladder leads up to this area Photo: Jim Stephenson


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