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Take a tour! 374-year-old home gets a modern makeover (without losing its charm)

This country manor house in England was built in 1642, and although it’s been occupied continuously ever since, not much work had been done on it since the 1950s. The present owners bought it two or three years ago, says Russell Taylor of Russell Taylor Architects, who was tasked with bringing the property up to date. The house had a dated kitchen in a 60-year-old addition and only one bathroom, surprising for such a large home.

Because the house is Grade II-listed, Taylor first undertook an analysis of the property to look at which parts were particularly important historically. He then designed the new addition, covering the footprint of the kitchen that was added in the 1950s.

“We were able to show that we were working with the history of the site and understood the building, so we gained the confidence of English Heritage and the planning authority,” Taylor says. “Apart from the fact that it’s cleaner, the new extension is almost indistinguishable from the old part.”

“The core task was to provide more bathrooms and a new kitchen-breakfast room, as well as to make the house flow into the garden,” architect Russell Taylor says. “Although the property is set in lovely grounds, there were no doors onto the main part of the garden and you had to go around a corner and up a hill to get to it.”

The original features in the old part of the house were restored where possible. The front door opens onto an impressive hallway, which features the building’s original slate flooring. “We designed the internal doors opening off this hallway and put in the cornicing here, but it has all been made to look original,” Taylor says.

The old square kitchen was replaced with a rectangular kitchen-breakfast room, which features subtle divides between the prep and serving area and the dining space, which overlooks and now opens onto the garden. The table is positioned so it gets the morning sun.

The rustic-looking slate floor has heating beneath it, so radiators don’t clutter up the walls.

“We laid new flooring in the library and carefully designed the bookcase and fireplace to ensure it was all in keeping with the period of the house,” Taylor says. Apart from the windows, everything else in the room is new.

Sofas and armchairs in a mix of fabrics and casually dressed with a selection of pillows give this space a laid-back, casual feel.

The homeowners wanted to include marble in the bathroom to add a luxurious feel. It’s been elegantly incorporated in the bath splashback and the shower, but, as Taylor says, “To step into a building built in 1642, go up to the [second] floor and come across a marble floor would have just felt wrong.”

Although such a large bathroom is unlikely to suffer too much from condensation, the classical-style mirror has an anti-mist device.

Taylor used the original fireplace in the main bedroom, which is made of granite and plaster, as a blueprint for the new fireplaces he designed for other areas of the house. “The plaster relief above the fireplace in the main bedroom is original, as is the frieze that runs along the top of the walls. We actually extended this frieze to complete the circuit around the room,” he says.

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