Take a home tour of a courtyard style pool house and studio extension

A dilapidated Georgian villa and a collection of ramshackle outbuildings in Cheshire gave Ben and Jo Morley the chance to create a unique courtyard-style home.

By Caroline Ednie | 26 December 2017

A dilapidated Georgian villa and a collection of ramshackle outbuildings in Cheshire gave Ben and Jo Morley the chance to create a unique courtyard-style home.

The build timeline

Courtyard style pool house and studio extension 1

Image: Andrew Lee

Ben and Jo Morley’s approach to improving their glorious Georgian villa was one that eschewed instant gratification in favour of a slow and steady 15-year transformation.

Starting simply and unglamorously with gutting their run-down Cheshire house, the Morley’s vision gathered pace with a 2009 project to extend the ground-floor kitchen, dining and living area, and recently culminated in the completion of the final phase of their development – a pool house with an artist’s studio above.

‘We did a lot of the work ourselves when we bought the house in 2000,’ explains Ben. ‘In the meantime, we saved money and decided to look at replacing the various outbuildings and additions, including a badly designed hallway built in the Seventies, plus a carport and stable block that were in a bad state of repair. The idea was to knock them down and rebuild.’

The design plans

Courtyard style pool house and studio extension 6

Image: Andrew Lee

First to go was the carport and old cramped kitchen, replaced by a large open-plan cooking, dining and living area extension designed by Glasgow-based architects Cameron Webster.

This new space was cleverly designed to flow from an existing living room in the Georgian house, which creates old-meets-new connections. Large expanses of glazing and oak-framed glass doors wrap around the rear of the property, giving this aspect a transparent modern feel.

This successful remodelling gave a more open, flowing arrangement to the Morleys’ main living spaces on the ground floor. The next stage was to deal with the dilapidated stable block at the opposite side of the courtyard, which was something of a forlorn form in need of a function.

‘We wanted an artist’s space for Jo, as she was working from one of the spare bedrooms in the main house,’ explains Ben.

‘Our first idea was to replace the stable with a studio and gallery block, but it had always been a dream of ours to have a pool. It’s difficult to cost a pool house; there are so many considerations and variables – the price can often jump up to £50,000 to £100,000 over budget. So we worked out a financial plan and approached Stuart Cameron at Cameron Webster with some ideas.

‘We didn’t want a bright, echoey sports-centre feel with a blue pool and white tiles. We wanted the space to feel cave-like, with dark basalt tiles and black fixtures and fittings,’ Ben continues. ‘Our inspiration came from the pool of a hotel we stayed at in Barcelona.’