Design: One-Storey Wonder

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

It was a Seventies bungalow in Sussex, without a great deal of style. Now it's been transformed into a family-friendly haven of design. Dominic Bradbury drops in

Sitting in a picture-perfect spot, surrounded by woodland and overlooking a glorious valley landscape, John Carver and Anna Carloss's home rehabilitates the idea of the English bungalow. While in California and Australia, single-level living is a way of life and bound up with notions of designer sophistication, here the bungalow still carries connotations of a very different kind. But Carver and Carloss's low-slung, larch-clad house in East Sussex suggests we should think again and let our imaginations loose on our bungalow stock.

The couple's reinvention of a rather tired Seventies building began as an idea for a weekend escape from their busy London lives, but has since become the family's main home. No wonder, given the tempting scenery, within a quiet enclave bordering Sir Paul McCartney's farmland. The couple first saw the place three years ago, having been tipped off by former Pet Shop Boys' manager Tom Watkins who has a home nearby, and were instantly taken by the setting and the possibilities of turning the house into a modernist-inspired retreat.

"The first reaction was that this was just an amazing place," says Anna Carloss, co-founder, with Carver, of the communications and creative agency, Cunning. "The garden was quite overgrown but we came inside and saw the views, and then went down to see Tom, who told us to put an offer in while we could, as the house was going on the open market the next week. John had left his glasses here and it gave us an excuse to come back – so we came back to the house, agreed the price, had a glass of wine and went back to London."

Carver and Carloss had already met Andrew Whiting of Hut Architecture, who had done some work on the family's former home in London's Primrose Hill. They began a new collaboration on the Sussex house, looking to resuscitate the painted brick bungalow and deal with issues like the lack of insulation and the incongruous neo-Georgian add-on conservatory. They also wanted to create a functioning family home – shared with the couple's son and daughter – along with a great-looking living space that maximised the views and natural light.

"We liked the footprint and the feel of the house, although it would have been a lot cheaper for us to knock the whole house down and start again," says Carver. "When we saw it we knew exactly what we wanted it to look like. We had a vision for the house and the space rather than saying to an architect, here is the house and do what you like. It was more of a collaboration."

That collaboration required a lot of work. "The bungalow had obviously been rather nice when it was first built but had been butchered by previous owners," says the architect Andrew Whiting. "There was no insulation, and condensation running down the walls. Our strategy was to look at how we could make the house better without knocking it down, and so we had the idea of insulating the entire building, roof and walls, and then cladding the whole thing in timber so it blends in to the woodland." Another priority was light and making the most of the views, so skylights were added, windows and doorways enlarged and one brick wall in the living room replaced by sheets of glass to open the house up to the landscape. The existing conservatory – set in a gap within the overall envelope of the house – was taken away and replaced with a glass family room, set flush with the exterior walls for a neat, crisp outline.

Within, the house was even more of a team effort, with the designer/maker Neil Jolliffe working on bespoke elements such as the kitchen, bathrooms and many pieces of furniture, including the dining table and book shelves. Having stripped the bungalow right back, underfloor heating was coated in a low-maintenance polished concrete finish and the layout kept as fluid and flexible as possible. "The whole idea was for it to be really user-friendly," says Carver. "We didn't want to be precious with it, saying don't step on the carpet, don't make a mess ... We wanted something that you could just mop through."

Six bedrooms were cut down to four to make space for a dressing room and en suite bathrooms. A semi-separate guest area has been created to one side to allow visitors some privacy, while in the garden John Carver's 1971 Excella Airstream caravan has space for another four people.

Now that Carver and Carloss have given up London living, work patterns have also changed, with more work done at home. At present this usually means laptops on the dining table.

Hut are now designing a new garden studio for Carver and Carloss, made of log-filled steel gabions, offering a more flexible working space. A pool is also being added in the garden, as the family settle themselves fully into a new kind of rural living in a radically reconfigured country home.

"There is a sophisticated simplicity to what we do and this was an example of a simple country home in a way," says Hut's Andrew Whiting. "There's nothing hugely fancy about it. It's a simple form and simple to live in."

Hut Architecture ( www.hutarchitecture.com; 020- 7566 5333), Cunning ( www.cunning.com; 020-7566 5300)

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Application Support - Enterprise Java, SQL, Oracle, SQL Server

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A well-established financial soft...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape