Think inside the box
A modern glass-and-wood extension has transformed an Edwardian home on the Welsh coast. Claire Bingham pays a visit. Photographs by Chris Tubbs.
IT TOOK AN EYE for design and a dose of forward-thinking to revamp this traditional Welsh house into a modern, pared-back home that is filled with natural light. A brilliant example of how contemporary architecture can blend into a historic property without taking away any of its lived-in soul, this renovation showcases the beauty of raw materials, as well as a clever, considered design.
Built in the early 20th century, the original detached house, in Goodwick on the extreme west coast of Wales, is home to Eifion and Amanda Griffiths, the duo behind the Welsh textile brand Melin Tregwynt. Known for its traditional, colourful blankets, the company is a family business: Eifion was born at the mill where the blankets are still woven, and has lived in the area all of his life. He bought this three-storey house in 1981.
When it was built, the house would have had about eight bedrooms, all very small, with the living quarters all on the ground floor. Today, it is a different story: in the original part of the house there are two bedrooms on the ground floor, a living room and study on the first, and the top floor is a big open loft.
What has really transformed it in recent years, however, is a new modern extension. The concrete and glass construction, with its floor-to-ceiling windows and timber-clad walls, houses a sleek kitchen, dining and sitting area, and an adjoining bathroom. Offering fabulous views of the coast, its design is striking yet not jarring, and cleverly connects the living area of the original house and the rear garden beyond, while also incorporating a car port and storage area beneath.
The project, which took two-and-a half years, was carried out by local builders Carreg Construction and John Pardey Architects. 'We've been talking about the extension for about 10 years; explains Amanda about the practicalities of the design. 'As the back of the old house is built into the cliff, we always knew it was going to be a difficult construction. Also, we wanted to conserve the old part of the house, but were unsure how to marry the two buildings together. We had always assumed that we would extend on top of the house, but this design has solved all the problems for us. In the past, when we had our living room on the ground floor, we had to go up and down stairs to get to the garden, but now it flows out from the living space. It's a really great scheme:
The industrial theme of the understated structure continues throughout the interior, thanks to a soft colour palette and combination of traditional wooden furniture and mid-century design classics.
'Most of our textiles are about colour’ says Amanda of Melin Tregwynt's woollen blankets, cushions, fabrics and clothing, which have been produced at the family mill since 1912. 'They're quite vibrant, so even before we did the house, we knew we wanted to keep the scheme neutral.' A palette of warm browns and greys places the focus on the shapes of the furniture, while the textiles add the odd splash of colour to lift the look.
Where pattern has been introduced, it is subtle. The serene new bathroom at the rear of the extension features a sleek, spacious bathtub with exposed concrete surrounds -yet it's the pretty patterned tiles in the shower that make it a stylish space, rather than a grey box.
Its main design feature, however, is the large window facing on to the original stone wall that adjoins the house. 'When we light it at night, it's absolutely stunning’ says Amanda.
Granite walls and seascapes: this good-looking house is all about the views - from all angles.