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Case Study - Pixie Cottage 

A passage through time 

"A sympathetic renovation and extension project in rural Northamptonshire." 
 
When the Webb family decided to move from their appartment lifestyle to somewhere more rural, their search finally led them to a 300 year-old cottage with modern extensions in rural Northamptonshire. 
 
Mark Webb says: “We had seen the cottage before but had ruled it out. Later we went to look at the property over the road and found out it was still for sale. We bought it and loved it”. 
 
On the outskirts of a village some six miles outside of Wellingborough, the cottage offered just two bedrooms, but lot of character. They moved in 2000, thinking they would one day add more bedrooms in the loft of the 1970s extension, built by the previous owner. 
 
However, it was more than ten years before they decided to make some changes. 
 
Mark says: “We didn’t plan anything too fancy, and it was going to be quite low budget. Once we had planning permission we started the tender process. Of the five who quoted, Warin Larkin was the one who asked most questions. He spent two hours with us on a Saturday afternoon and we liked his approach.” 
 
Although the project was initially going to be modest, when the extension roof was removed it was clear that the original plan would not be practical. It was time to rethink the whole idea. 
 
The planned three or four month project was reviewed and rescheduled to take more than a year. More of the building was taken down than originally planned and the upstairs floors were strengthened and rebuilt to inlude underfloor heating. In the process more insulation and modern features were added. Original stonework was uncovered in the dining room, which was rebuilt and is now complemented by an ultra-modern glass and walnut staircase as a focal point in the heart of the house. 
 
Mark continues: “I have project management experience, so I became the client project manager, working with Larkin Homes and a structural engineer –– together we became the project team. Warin advised about what was possible and always kept an eye on the cost. We did make changes as we went, but in a very carefully considered way.” 
 
For Mark the project was always about the kitchen. As a professional kitchen designer his wife, Carmela, had managed in a small galley kitchen for nearly 12 years. She has had a great influence on the design of the whole house, but the new, modern kitchen was a priority. It is in the space, which was once the lounge, next to the feature staircase. The new lounge extension, built in the style of an orangery, is light and spacious. 
 
Mark says: “The staircase is a big wow factor – that wasn’t in our original plans. There’s a completely different feel to the place but it’s all stitched together really well. From the outside you wouldn’t know how much has changed. There’s a passage through the house that takes you from the 21st century back in time, but there’s still a modern twist and you can’t see the join. 
 
“For anyone else who is thinking about a project like this it’s important to be realistic about timeframes. Listen to your builder and don’t try to cut corners. Make sure you keep the dialogue going and write down any changes, so everyone is on the same page. Don’t be afraid to change but keep talking – that’s what has worked so well on this project.” 
 
 
“Warin Larkin and his team are all very professional, conscientious and caring to their customers.”...read more 
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