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7th Feb 2018

Upper Green Farm Annex Appeal; Grand Designs Magazine cover story

As the way we live changes, so do the requirements of our homes. The luxury of a separate teen hang-out, games room, guest annex, fitness studio or even an artist gallery can provide the ultimate solution to modern living.   

Add to this more people working from home and increased requirement for separate living spaces - the annex model allows for functional proximity without overly encroaching on each other’s lives. Whether it’s cleverly accessed mezzanines, tucked away offices, ceiling hung gym, compact kitchen, library or concealed pull out wall beds they save space and allow for an increased living area; making a space multi-functional seems to be a catalyst for creative space planning and made to measure solutions ultimately essential for future proofing out homes.

One client tells us “we decided an annex was the best way to give our teenagers the space they needed, whilst retaining a modicum of parental supervision. It has truly been a game changer for all concerned; the perfect compromise between safety and freedom. We get our own space (and sanity) back, without a constant battle between the X-Box and McMafia and we have finally reclaimed the right to have grown-up dinner party without hungry teenage boys constantly invading, to raid the fridge and competing with our noisy chat by turning up the ‘grime’.”

StuartBarr CDR have created more than a few made to measure annexes over recent months. For each the purpose has been as varied in its design as in specification. The Grand Designs featured supersized annex at Upper Green Farm, Thame was originally designed to be an artist studio and gallery but evolved into a mini (or not so mini) complement to The Old Thatched Farmhouse. With entertaining space, galley kitchen, guest bedroom mezzanine, bathroom and fabulous built in storage (by BarrJoinery). The annex, complete with wood burner and whole face glazing to the gardens beyond was designed by Melt Design Hub, London.

Not always new build structures – the Long Crendon annex is a converted 16C stone coach house. A treasure trove of clever made to measure joinery features, the bijoux space the ultimate in multi functionality. Mezzanines at both ends offer a snug and home office, each accessed by their own staircase. A central library space converts easily into guest bedroom, courtesy of hidden made to measure pull down bed (designed and manufactured by BarrJoinery) and of course incorporates the obligatory shower room. Interior architecture was by Wolff Architects, Oxford. 

The Mill House studio was designed as a gym/games room for its then owners, one of them a fitness instructor. The timber frame structure was easy to build and complemented the look of the renovated house from a respectful distance at the far end of the garden. Designed by HollandGreen Architects, Thame, this simple but effective annex structure could be whatever its owners wanted it to be.

The annex solution also seems to be solving for another very important and sometimes over-looked issue… where to live when the main house is undergoing renovation. A compact, perfectly converted annex, or newly situated ‘micro home’, gives a completely separate space living space, onsite but away from the builder’s noise, dust and hive of activity. As such clients are able to invest in their own property without losing money on rental accommodation but remain close by throughout the build - thus staying fully involved in all of those crucial sourcing and finishing decisions.

Current StuartBarr CDR clients in a quiet North Oxford village made the decision to do exactly this, create their own hideaway from a disused outbuilding whilst their renovation got underway. Delighted with their cleverly laid out and meticulously converted home from home, our clients moved into their bespoke annex just before Christmas, allowing the StuartBarr CDR team to get started with major works to the main house. Design work for the annex conversion and main house remodelling were by Acanthus Clews, Banbury. When asked what StuartBarr CDR could improve upon our client responded – “nothing, I am 100% happy”; praise indeed…the team continue to work very hard to keep to their clean record!

Whether part of a future build or as a stand-alone project the StuartBarr CDR team are embracing the ‘annex trend’ and enjoying the plethora of original designs and structural challenges it brings.  If you have a stand-alone bespoke annex project with plans and planning permission (where required), our ‘direct to client’ construction director Chris Noonan is available to talk through build options. Alternatively contact us with tender enquiries for contract administrated ‘principal contractor’ projects. StuartBarr CDR services are explained here.

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