Tuesday, 29 December 2009

ta da! the finished article

And so here are the pictures of the frame from the previous post - miraculously completed and landscaped! If only real builds could happen so quickly eh?
Doesn't it look great? Modern but considerate and totally appropriate for the site, which is amazing. Well done to the owners, we hope you have many happy memories here.

I'm not usually a fan of oak frames without traditional sole plates (the horizontal beam which lies at ground level or just above the plinth) but this building has changed my mind. I love the way the glazing runs to the ground and the building appears to growing out of the plot - and I bet the natural light inside is amazing.

This is a 'typical' Border Oak glazed link solution to connecting an extension to an older property. It allows you to leave the existing building alone whilst integrating the new building honestly and deliberately.

If you had a view like this then you would want as much glass as possible.......and I love the understated contrast between the two buildings. 
What do you all think?

Monday, 21 December 2009

I can't wait to see the finished result

A lovely client kindly sent these photos to us showing his Border Oak frame being erected by our gang - the beautiful hand made cruck frame is an extension to his home, linked by a small glazed frame. It will be pretty impressive once finished and I will post the completed project pics here.
He also bought one of our outbuilding frames to erect himself - and what a great job he did! Looks very good indeed.

I hope he isn't having to stand there to hold the building up.....

and here is the garage before the rafters are finished

The end gable of the extension

The internal frame is formed by a curved truss and will look amazing internally

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

the demonstration house

Border Oak are hoping to build a 'show house' next year - demonstrating how oak frames can be used for contemporary projects and also showcasing how Border Oak might approach the more and more stringent eco regulations - we are aiming to the top level of classification on the Code for Sustainable Homes - a tough and expensive challenge. 

It's no cutting edge avant guarde fantasy creation but more of a 21st Century reinterpretation of a redundant barn - to respect the Conservation Area and residential surroundings (aka satisfying the local authority and pleasing the neighbours) but  also because what Border Oak does best is contemporary vernacular.

It will be super insulated, with local, prefabricated materials and systems, carbon neutral (or maybe even carbon negative) and low impact. We are using a wood pellet boiler, PVT panels, underfloor heating, Black Mountain Sheeps wool, Hempcrete and of course, green oak.

I will try to keep a detailed 'self build diary' as we go so its progress can be shared step by step - but once it is up and running please do come and see it and let us know what you think. It's an exciting project for Border Oak but one we hope to share with all sorts of self builders, developers, schools, planners and designers.

The plans were a shared design effort between Dad, my cousin Jim and myself - but lots of things were included or altered at the planners request and after consulting neighbours.

The site isn't huge, but there is a walled section and views over a field so it has some good points. It is 2 mins from Border Oak's office and workshop and in a great village so should be an improvement from the old corrugated industrial unit that was there.

I would love to rent or purchase some of the field behind and plant a small orchard and herb garden - maybe get a couple of Border Oak donkeys?!! I think a wildflower underskirt in an old fashioned orchard would be just beautiful.

Monday, 14 December 2009

ho ho ho!

I am so sorry that I haven't updated this for ages - sometimes life just gets in the way of all the fun stuff! Brochures, websites and magazine articles all need to be done but I am making progress so 2010 is looking like being a vintage year - it's Border Oak's 30th anniversary (30 years......I can't believe it!) and I am determined to make it great.

Anyway the house here is slowly getting the Christmas treatment - but everything has to be waist height or higher because of pesky Gabriel -  there have only been two bauble casualties so not too bad (and all the posh baubles are at the top of the tree!)

Here are some photos of the advent calendar I made for Min and Gabriel consisting of chocolate coins, a polar bear, old paper hearts and , um, an octopus and anchor - and I will being posting about the show house update and about a lovely cruck framed barn later this week - to make up for being a truely awful blogger.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

getting blood from a stone

Now, I really, really like the Border Oak Project Managers - all 4 of them are lovely people, super good at their jobs and veritable fountains of knowledge. But trying to get hold of photos of current projects can be tricky - pretty much IMPOSSIBLE! So I nag, email, nag some more, get someone else to nag, offer to make cakes and yet I am lucky to get a handful of pics of gutter stops and scaffolding.

Admittedly some of them are better than others - Mark even supplied me with my current blog topper photo and I have a whole disc load from Ed who has kindly edited out the less interesting photos for me. 

But I do I know they are really busy people and are getting actual houses built so I will cut them some slack..........for now. 

Anyway here are some of the fabulously charming Eds lovely pics -  great projects, beautifully project managed and for which I am eternally greatful!

This house is a bit like mine but with windows and doors on the gable end rather than a chimney - to make the most of views over a pretty orchard with free range chickens.

the interior looks good too - a vaulted ceiling and open frame work

And this is a much much bigger version of our house - using the same construction methods but illustrating how bespoke a Border Oak house can be - I really like the back of this house and can't wait to see how it weathers into the plot.

I think this exposed oak frame will also look fab once it has settled in. It seems to have a very interesting facade and a good mix of materials.

I will try to remember to add this house to my list of 'to do' photos as it looks as if it will photograph really well. I love the exposed oak, the curved step and the hint of the basement below. More unfinished houses to follow - no gutter stops I promise!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

I heart winter

It really feels like winter now - my favorite time of year, if only it wouldn't rain (curly hair and rain are not a good partnership). 

I love the dark nights, the frosty air and lighting the fire. I even love the long build up to Christmas (although getting my first Christmas card on the first of November has really irked me - yes it's super organised, but I think it kills the festive spirit to know you are just a job ticked off the list - oh well). And this year I have joined an ornament exchange where I make 10 Chrimbo ornaments, post them to a list of people sent to me by the exchange organisers and the wait to receive my surprise ornaments in the post - it will either be brilliant or awful but sounded like fun nonetheless. Not sure what I will do with 10 hand knitted reindeer.......

Any way back to oak framing....... I have put together some pics of an unusual conversion/new build designed and completed by Border Oak. With an open plan feel, mezzanine gallery and amazing two storey glazed elevation (looking over some spectacular un-spoilt Shropshire countryside) it really is a great holiday home - I really enjoyed styling theses photos last year and hope you like it.

p.s one of the re- edited Border Oak brochures came today - a week late but that is quite an improvement (I once waited 18 months for a brochure to be designed and printed........) I think I like it but will have another look after my cup of tea. sometimes when you work on something so closely you almost lose the 'buzz' of the delivered result. Two more brochures to do and then the website to refresh.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

too many cakes

Our beautiful son, Gabriel, was one at the end of September and the lovely Minerva was 5 at the end of October so we have had a lot of parties, presents and cakes at chez Albright recently. We moved into our house 4 years ago (on Minerva's 1st birthday) so it feels that a huge amount has happened here since then. 

Looking back on the photos of Min's 1st birthday the most shocking difference is the garden (which wasn't a garden at all 4 years ago - we didn't even have a front step, just a gaping 2ft jump) and how bare the house was - no rugs, photos, sofas or even kitchen table. 

Over time the layers of normal family stuff have grown, and we have accumulated more furniture, paintings and an embarrassing number of toys. It has happened so quietly that we didn't really notice, just as the hedges and trees have silently matured and thickened. And although I may get annoyed with the endless mucky paw prints on the Farrow and Ball paint, the trails of plastic squeaky toys and half eaten apricots,  looking back at the empty and sparse house we used to have I am so pleased that my little ones have helped us make a home.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

you can't beat a bit of old oak

Border Oak used to do lots of barn conversions - in fact the very first Border Oak house, 30 years ago, was part conversion, part extension, part relocation ( and my mum and dad still live there) - but nowadays we tend to steer clear of these gorgeous old barns. Not because we don't love them, we really do, but because they were becoming fraught with issues. Bats, Voles, Newts all needed rehousing at the right time of year, the planning powers wanted 'live work units' and multiple occupancy, and the costs are notoriously unpredictable (and who can afford the proverbial bottomless pit?)

But every now and then a barn has stumbled into our path that has either been too beautiful, or dare I say it, too easy to pass by. And because we used to do lots of conversions we have all the necessary skills to renovate and restore even the mankyiest (is that a word? oh dear!) chicken shed, as long as we can go at our own pace and with our own solutions (i.e. we can't do conversions for clients only 'in house').

This barn wasn't really that manky, but it wasn't that beautiful either. What it did have was a huge plot, great views, no onerous planning issues and a straight forward conversion (there wasn't much old oak remaining so we could rebuild from the bottom up). One of the Border Oak  senior designers bought it after the conversion work was completed - and I think it turned out to be quite lovely.
the outside is a mix of oak weatherboard, glass and stone, with old Welsh Slates on the roof and copper guttering - in other words top end specification  - aka expensive. Internally we saved all teh old oak, even retaining the angled walls and dubious slopes. New oak framing was added in an obvious fashion as were new contemporary  fittings such as lights and free standing kitchen units which leave the old fabric of the structure to be seen.

Luckily we had no neighbours to consider so there are lots of floor to ceiling windows - and lots more new windows than you would normally be allowed under planning legislation.

The floor plan is very well suited to modern living - big rooms, high ceilings, no wasted space There is a smaller connected barn sitting at an angle which created the perfect snug/office/ playroom/studio or annex - with more floor to ceiling glass.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

a bit on the side

It's not uncommon for Border Oak to go back to past clients homes to add extensions. The owners may want to create more space as a family have grown but often it is to build a sunroom or simply because the money tree has been generous. Luckily oak frames are pretty easy to extend both in a practical sense and also aesthetically. Here are some recent extensions Border Oak have added. 

 I will try to be back to my blogging best (as bad as that!) next week as the one brochure goes to print on Monday and the other is coming together. Stress free times ahead.......... (touch wood, oak of course)!

The left hand of this building is the original bungalow - transformed with a new roof, windows, porch and rendered facade - and the two storey green oak extension sits quite happily against it.
The original brick house was already pretty, but quite narrow and tall for the beautiful site and so the extension needed to match the height (so the internal spaces would work) but also provide a great width and balance. The weathered boarded barn was added to the other side to give a graduated roof line and soften the profile of the greatly enlarged property.

Border Oak added this sunroom to a cottage we had built a few years ago  - we have also built some further outbuildings and oak garden structures at the same property - and, according to Ed the project manager, it is all immaculate and very impressive indeed.

You can see that we have added both an oak framed garden room and two storey extension (including double jetty and attic rooms) here - we built the original farmhouse as phase one, the sunroom with interesting roof configuration as phase two and the large extension to the left as phase three. I think it is a hugely successful overall project - see below for a before shot. 
It really looks as if the three parts are a unified whole and I hear from Mark, another of the Border Oak project managers, that the completed house is really wonderful (do you sense an element of competition from the PM's?)

p.s Thankyou to mark, the aforementioned PM, for the fabulous photo I have used in my blog banner - a lovely scene over the River Wye.

Friday, 16 October 2009

the first border oak seminar - and some photos.......

Last Friday we held the very first Border Oak seminar where all of the office staff - including the elusive Project Managers, met up to discuss how we see Border Oak growing over the next 5 years or so. It was really interesting and energising and thankfully we managed to avoid too many seminar cliches such as 'thinking out of the box' and 'failing to plan is planning to fail' (although the last one was mentioned............) When we spotted the bouncy castles being inflated we all worried that some 'team building' activities were afoot but luckily they were for the under 8's rugby training . Bacon sandwiches started the day with a buffet lunch to conclude - what's not to love about seminars eh?!

Anyway back to some eye candy (not the project mangers I promise)...........This is the beautiful oak framed house house that will feature in the next issue of Homebuilding & Renovation - out in about 10 days I think - I'm  really looking forward to seeing it in print!

The internal chimney becomes a feature in the maser bedroom with a vaulted ceiling to show off the oak frame

A beautiful and informal kitchen is open to the fabulous garden room with a wall of glazing and a woodburner to capture the best of all seasons

The external elevations are faced in brick rather than lime render but in essence this house is based on the infamous 'Pearmain Cottage' as seen on Grand Designs. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

what a day!

I am sorry for not updating this for a few days - I had the most crazy of days last Friday and have also been busy busy busy at work (actually in the real office, with real other people and officey stuff like photocopiers - oooh!)

On Friday I drove to West Sussex (had to leave at stupid o'clock and got back at 10 past silly) to style a photoshoot of a modern barn style house Border Oak built a few years ago. Sounds quite straightforward so far? Well, of course,  nothing in Merry World goes according to plan but despite the drama of the day these are the pics.

The house was seriously good for photos  - open plan, contemporary, beautiful light, cool details  - and I could have spent an age there getting dozens more but I guess some days are just not meant to be.............

I would love to hear your thoughts on the house though so do get in touch. The Pearmain Cottage brochure is coming together too so I will post an update on that soon as well as some mini interviews from the other real people at the real office who get to use real photocopiers every day of the week.

a wall of glass overlooking a beautiful field  - which made fabulous light and must be spectacular on a summers evening of for a party..........

Although the main rooms were open to each other there was just enough subdivision to articulate the spaces - I love the way the stairs is in the sitting room but effectively separate. V. clever I thought

the end of the open 'corridor' had two large barn doors which made the house feel connected to the outside and worked well with the overall 'L' shape of the house.

As the house was designed by an architect rather than Border Oak, there are some interesting contemporary interpretations - such as the vaulted ceiling in the kitchen and master bedroom. Its always good to see other peoples ideas and to take a fresh look I think.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

h.Art week in Herefordshire

My week has just been so hectic - I thought I would be twiddling my thumbs with Min at school but things are never as you think are they...........?If I had a spare day I would be off exploring the amazing venues that are open for h.Art week (a celebration or Herefordshire art and crafts) and thinking about what to buy if I had a surprise windfall. 

I think the Charles McCarthy painting would have to come home with me (please) and maybe a Jenny Crisp log basket (I couldn't find a photo of a log basket  - lemons yes, but no logs!). The Rachel Pritchard pod is gorgeous (she used to work with Ben) and I think I quite like the Hazel Gwatkin infra red photo but would need to check it out to be certain...........

There are also some amazing paintings and drawings by Simon Dorrell (editor of Hortus Magazine no less!) that are calling to me and I have my beady eye on some 'everyday' plates and bowls. Maybe time to start playing the lottery..................

oh and I almost forgot to mention the contemporary oak cubes made by Border Oak for h. Art week - and they look great in the setting if I say so myself!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

its all about the light

This barn was built by Border Oak for a friend of mine - she is the designery one -and I think she did a great job considering how tricky the site could have been. It's a tight site, next to listed house, with a tree in the middle and a mixture of houses all around. But she has transformed the site and also designed a great looking house that has beautiful light and feels a lot bigger than the plans.
We had a great day taking these pics, filling it with props and pretending to professional photo stylists........and with that in mind I am now off to the yummy Baileys Home and Garden store to seek out some new props for next weeks shoot and meet my other best friend Caroline, who is also super clever and creative (she is an extremely  good conservator of art - or a conservatory as Minnie tells people). work, work, work........................

lovely light