Victoria Jenkins Interiors - Modernism in the Warwickshire countryside

PUBLISHED: 13:24 15 July 2010 | UPDATED: 17:32 20 February 2013

Living area: The oversized standard lamp is from Flos of Italy. The Balzac chair is a design classic by Tom Dixon made from Prego leather and the Italian sofa is a BPA. There is also a proper working fireplace made of local limestone.

Living area: The oversized standard lamp is from Flos of Italy. The Balzac chair is a design classic by Tom Dixon made from Prego leather and the Italian sofa is a BPA. There is also a proper working fireplace made of local limestone.

This stunning, modern home is a complete contrast to the dilapidated Victorian lodge house that once stood here, as Victoria Jenkins discovers.

At the press of a button the enormous plate glass window in the dining room is slowly obscured by hard to believe what looks like a moving stone wall. It is a moving stone wall, says Steve Roberts who lives in the ultra-contemporary Wickstead Lodge with his partner Derek Murray. It measures some four metres by three and once it slides across you are no longer looking out of the window into the garden. And this wall has been so designed that when it is closed the early morning sun penetrates its stone fissures so we have sun rays streaming into our open plan dining and living room.
But this sliding wall is just one of the many fascinating features of this unusual house in Warwickshire which the couple who run their own successful hairdressing and beauty business, plus an expanding property portfolio had built for them three years ago.
When Steve and Derek bought the one-and-a-half acre plot containing a dilapidated Victorian lodge house in 2001 they didnt realise it would be five long years before they got permission to demolish it and build their new house.

Part of the problem was they had set their hearts on a square box-like, very contemporary design for their new house. However, the planners would not agree. They also insisted that the new house should have the same footprint and height restrictions as the old lodge. Fortunately a client recommended architect Adrian Baynes to them and to their amazement he produced drawings showing a highly elegant design with a chapel-like ceiling in the dining room, double height ceilings in the living area and two separate wings for the bedrooms. And looking back we definitely prefer this, says Steve. So imposing is the dining room ceiling that the couple were able to put up a 22 foot Christmas tree last year.
Planning permission came through quite quickly but it still took two years to build although only two days to demolish the lodge, says Steve. Meanwhile the couple had sold their main house in Coventry and were living in one of their other houses.
What they wanted was open plan living with large airy spacious rooms. Now they have a home covering 2,600 square feet with four bedrooms, two en-suite bathrooms and a wet room with terracing that goes all the way round the exterior. Architectural features include a church-like roof of turned steel, a wide flight of steps linking dining area to sitting area and unusual limestone parquet flooring with underfloor heating throughout.
They also have bi-fold doors in every room leading straight out onto the garden, a limestone fireplace made of local stone housing a
proper working log fire and an oversized door to the garden some 11 feet tall.

Other impressive features include a one-and-a-half ton limestone bath which resembles a dinosaurs egg which had to be craned in through the roof and a therapeutic hot tub plus shower in the garden. Lapicida of Halifax provided the main bathroom with its limestone bath, limestone tiling and basins with vanity units designed by their architect. All the bathrooms have heated mirrors which magically never steam up and ceramic basins. There are also handmade oak doors throughout the house and a surround sound system.
However, the most impressive room is the kitchen. We wanted the kitchen to flow into the dining room so the cook isnt isolated from the guests, says Steve and this is exactly what they have.
It is also very smart indeed, consisting of Italian Varenna units by Poliform in high gloss chocolate and grey, with Caesar Stone worktops and Miele appliances throughout, including double ovens (including one steam over). There is also a wine cooler, a Quooker tap (which provides instant boiling water), recycle bins and a built-in coffee machine, wok and deep fat fryer. The most striking feature is a huge breakfast bar some 14 foot long and 5 foot wide with pop-up electric points into which the couple can plug small appliances. Above it is a matching stainless steel rack which houses the extractor fan above the double hobs.
With such an impressive home the couple decided to start afresh with new furniture, aiming for a simple ultra-contemporary design throughout the house. They achieved it all on their own without an interior designer in sight. We travel a great deal and stay in some wonderful hotels and eat in some fabulous restaurants, says Steve. We picked up our ideas from our visits.

Much of their furniture is from Italy such as their B & B Italia sofa in the snug, huge Flos chandelier in the dining room, an oversized Flos standard lamp in the sitting room and six stainless steel Bombo stools. There is also a maple table with Philippe Starck chairs in the dining room, a Habitat four poster bed and luxurious gold silk bedspreads by Descamps of France and chocolate silk curtains from the Silk Society
in London.
Despite the unlikely name of Wickstead Lodge for their home the couple feel that although the original lodge has gone they are still living in a 21st century version. We even thought about hanging a mooses head on one of the walls as a modern twist, says Steve. After all, the planning constraints meant we had to keep to the original footprint. And although it is minimalist and decorated in neutral and earthy tones with luxurious touches we still find it very homely.

Contact book

Architect: Adrian Baynes of Baynes & Co , Assembly Rooms, 17 Church Street, Long Buckby, Northants NN6 &QH, tel: 01327 844927; www.
Kitchen: Poliform, tel: 020 7368 7600;
Bathroom: Lapicida of Halifax, tel: 01423 400100;

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