Victorian cottage transformation

This family home has been remodelled with two extensions built with sustainability in mind

By Paisley Rose Tedder | 9 April 2021

Built in 1900 and one of the oldest buildings in Harpsden, in Oxfordshire, Cherry Tree House is home to Henry and Jacqueline Gummer and their three children. The couple asked Guttfield Architecture to transform the Victorian cottage into a spacious energy efficient home. An awkward layout spanned across the cottage, stables and coach house. And the family wanted bigger rooms.

Finding inspiration

‘Keeping the cottage became a crucial part of the project,’ says lead architect Fred Guttfield. ‘The building is visible in the village and maintaining its character was important. Inspiration for the extensions came from the cottage’s height, width and proportions. ‘Changes to the stables and coach house during the 1960s and 1990s led to the opportunity of knocking them down to make way for new energy-efficient extensions. Planning permission for the project came through in 2018. ‘We went through the pre-application process in detail’, Fred explains. ‘Consultation evenings with local residents overcame any concerns. I’d recommend that anyone else seeking planning permission goes through a similar process as it makes everything much simpler.’

Victorian cottage living room with sliding doors out to the garden with woman pushing them open

The living room double doors open to reveal a cherry tree Image: Will Scott

Reworking the Victorian cottage

The front entrance moved to a more central location. This offers a view right through the property from the front door. The smaller rooms became a playroom, study and snug. While, the bigger living spaces and a kitchen with dining area are in the extensions. ‘Upstairs, Jacqueline and Henry’s bedroom suite links to the children’s bedrooms and to the first floor of the cottage,’ Fred explains. ‘So, the staircase is the focal point of the layout.’