Mansfield – Episode 1 – 2018
October 9, 2018
We are delighted to be back for a second series of ITV’s Love Your Home and Garden. Alongside fellow presenters, Alan Titchmarsh, Katie Rushworth and Kunle Barker, we transform the homes and gardens of deserving people across the country.
This episode takes us to Mansfield and the home of Benita and her son Josh, who has multiple disabilities and uses a wheelchair. As it is, the house is challenging for them to live in and prevents them from doing the things they enjoy. Josh loves the outdoors but can’t get out to his garden. Benita loves cooking, but the kitchen is too small for her to be together with Josh. She also works hard as a carer in Josh’s school, but has no place to relax at the end of a busy day. We wanted this house to become a home, a place where Benita and Josh could enjoy time together, and after Josh had gone to bed, a place where Benita could have a well-deserved glass of wine after a busy day. Alan was also very keen to have lots of plants inside Benita’s kitchen. She deserved the lift that plants could give in her when she gets home from caring at school to caring at home for Josh.
In this blog we are going to share with you the ideas we devised for radically changing Benita and Josh’s living spaces and hopefully give you some top design tips that can be applied to any home.
Benita and Josh’s house
So, where to begin. The first thing we noticed when we entered the house was a dark hallway, with a blank wall at the opposite end. It was a dark and depressing entrance with no natural light or view of the outside. The route to get to the garden was comprised of four turns, three doors and a ramp. This was confusing enough for us, but to imagine Benita negotiating this with a wheelchair was another level.
The hall lead us to a kitchen. To say the kitchen was tiny would be an understatement. Half of the wall space was taken up by doors, leaving very little room for storage and appliances and the only window looked out into a conservatory.
Generally, the idea of conservatory extensions is to bring more light into the house and provide a lovely space from which to enjoy your garden, however, this conservatory did the opposite. The room was dominated by an ugly concrete ramp and what space was left over was used as garden storage. In addition to this, the mucky plastic roof was actually blocking light from the kitchen window!
Light into the kitchen was being blocked further by a little brick outhouse containing the boiler and an outside toilet that clearly (or hopefully) hadn’t been used for years. We’ll let the picture do the talking…
So, how could we provide a more direct and wheelchair friendly route to the garden, expand the kitchen space and fill the space with light?
Knock it all down and start again!
Ok, maybe not that drastic, but not too far off…
Demolish the conservatory and build a new one!
Conservatories don’t need to be separate isolated rooms, gone are the days of too hot in summer and too cold in winter. With new insulated glass and frame technology, standard off-the-shelf glazing systems can be used to create living spaces too.
We proposed an off-the shelf conservatory for the extension, which meant it could arrive on site and be constructed within a day, making the new kitchen weather tight very quickly. Usually conservatories like this are built to the floor, however, here we were placing kitchen units inside, so Kunle and his team had the challenge of building a low wall to exact measurements ready for installation of the conservatory.
Celebrating the structure
Next step was to connect the existing kitchen space with the new conservatory, doubling the size of the room and bringing in loads of natural daylight. We wanted to celebrate the structure, it was a Victorian theme kitchen after all and the Victorians were the best at celebrating structure! So, we placed the beam just under the ceiling and made a feature of it by painting it green.
Why did we pick green? The colour green communicates the positive psychological properties of balance, peace and harmony, perfect for the sanctuary we wanted to create for Benita. Also, we wanted to pay homage to the first known construction of a glass greenhouse. The Roman emperor Tiberius, was prescribed one cucumber a day for his health. To meet this demand the first known greenhouse was constructed in 30AD!
Small but perfectly formed
So that Josh and his wheelchair could be in the kitchen at the same time as his mother, we decided to push the kitchen to one side to make space for a big wide door out to the garden. So, although the space was still small we were using it much more efficiently.
We carefully planned the design and installation of the conservatory to make sure the window pane would be at exactly the same height as the worktop. This created what we called an ‘infinity worktop’, a great way of visually connecting the outside to the inside. We placed one long run of kitchen worktop along the wall facing out onto the garden. This allowed us to install the oven and hob against the solid part of wall, so we had a good location for mounting the cooker hood and meant we could locate the sink against the glass conservatory wall to create a beautiful view from the sink to the garden.
To enhance this view of the garden, we fulfilled Alan’s wish of having plenty of plants in the kitchen by designing a shelf at one end of the conservatory that continued out into the garden, visually connecting the garden to the house.
Picking a theme
If the glass conservatory and the abundant natural light gives the kitchen its wow factor it’s the colours and materials that give it its style. We chose Victorian garden conservatory as our design theme and going with green as the colour we offset the pale tones of the wall and kitchen units with a striking patterned tile floor, a copper tap, oak shelves and used a bold, floral, William Morris wallpaper as a backing to the shelves.
Connecting to nature
Alan and Katie did a fantastic job with the garden by continuing the theme of a single straight line from the front door. A series of different spaces branched from this, each designed to appeal to different senses so Josh can make the most of his new garden. A huge pergola at the back that gave him and Benita somewhere to sit and enjoy their beautiful new house and garden. We both also got to help out with planting in the garden, but Alan didn’t seem too impressed with our potting skills. We took the hint, It was nice and warm in in the house anyway!
It was amazing to see Benita and Josh’s reaction to their new home. Full of light and nature and a garden they can both enjoy together. It has been a pleasure helping to make that change and we hope Benita doesn’t have to think of that outhouse toilet ever again!
On reveal day, we waited with the team in the next-door neighbours garden, pouring bubbly for their friends and family while we waited for Alan to show them round their new home. It was great to get to know all the important people in Benita and Josh’s life, one neighbour even asked if we could do a spin-off show called Love Your Neighbours Home and Garden, not a bad idea!
Design Tips for your home
- Conservatories are cool again – it’s the big news. Check out the ones we used in the show https://www.klg.co.uk/
- Celebrate your structure. Make a feature of structural elements. Structural works are quite expensive, so why not show it off! Take a look at our BVDS steampunk house for another example of this. http://b-vds.co.uk/projects/steampunk-house/
- Sometimes less is more. We reduced the square meterage of Benita’s property but removed inefficient spaces to create one very practical and beautiful space.
- Pick an interior theme and go with it. This can really help make the numerous decisions you will face when decorating and furnishing your space. Everyone gets decision fatigue on home renovations, give yourself a break and pick a theme!
- A tip that will cost you nothing: Make more kitchen space by moving your washing machine to another room. We moved Benita’s to the small bedroom upstairs that she was using for laundry anyway. We store clothes in our bedrooms, why should we traipse them through the kitchen to wash them!
Check out our company website www.b-vds.co.uk for examples of other homes we have transformed.