The renovation, extension and landscaping of a family house in Metroland.
‘Metroland’ was a term coined in 1915 by advertisers for the then new Metropolitan Line (now part of the London Underground network). It referred to the large areas of land available for new house building that developed along the length of the line, stretching north-west out of the capital into the countryside.
The Metroland dream was the escape from the polluted metropolis to a more pleasant life outside London. It offered a new hybrid lifestyle, a cross between a traditional rural English countryside existence and the hustle and bustle of the capital city – as the Guardian describes: ‘The Metropolitan’s PR people had accidentally invented English suburbia’.
Metroland House is located in a sylvan area of prime Metroland. The house was originally constructed in the 1950s and our client’s family have owned it for more than 50 years.
Our client had also worked for years in the office of an international architecture practice and inheriting the house was the perfect opportunity to give the house a new lease of life, creating a wonderful design led home for her own family.
Dominic McKenzie Architects have extensively remodelled the existing property and garden.
At the back of the house, a new lofty and light-filled extension merges into the rear part of the original building to become the heart of the house – containing the kitchen, dining room and a seating area.
The extension is surrounded on two sides by a large new reflecting pool – a reference to water-related imagery contained in John Betjeman’s 1973 documentary ‘Metro-land’. Two rows of stepping stones connect the rear of the extension and the living room with the garden lawn. Small fountains within the pool keep the water aerated and create a tranquil background noise.
The rear extension is constructed from stacked creasing tiles which were previously used as details on the original Arts and Crafts style house. The extension roof is in matching handmade terracotta tiles and its pitch follows the original house roof.
On entering the house, the hallway has a clear sightline from the front door to the reflecting pool and rear garden. A new steel and glass feature staircase, designed to allow as much transparency through it as possible, descends from above and floats above the floor, a subtle allusion to water. LED strips are concealed behind each tread meaning the stair becomes a spectacular light feature in the evening.
In the living room a new feature fireplace in Portland stone has been added at the centre of the room and the rear glazing has been altered to show the stepping stones extending on axis across the pool.
Further interior changes include: a new snug living room has been created in place of one of two original garages; the upstairs bedrooms have had new en suite bathrooms and built-in storage added; the master bedroom has been subdivided creating an enfilade of rooms – bedroom, walk-through wardrobe, bathroom.
Outside, the previously slightly sloping rear garden has been remodelled as two levels of lawn to allow the reflecting pool to connect into the garden. A low wall in creasing tiles matching the rear extension mediates the change in levels between the two lawns and offers a place to sit in the sunshine, to listen to the trickling fountains and watch the dragonflies skimming over the water.