Religious conversions normally conjure up something of a more spiritual nature but this architectural transformation of a Cheshire vicarage is equally impressive – and shows the significant set of skills that The Design Practice by Uber can offer to its clients.
This Grade ll listed Georgian home was restored, reworked, and enlarged by a remarkable 150%, upgrading it from a classic Georgian ‘Box’ house into an impressive contemporary living space, but without losing any of its former grandeur.
Such a huge project demanded detailed management of a range of professionals. ‘We hand-picked contractors whom we know and trust, and who can work to the exacting standards and level of detail that we require,’ explained Simon Evans, managing director at The Design Practice by Uber says. The Design Practice by Uber team were responsible for structural alterations and technical installations as well as specifying decorative finishes and detailing, with many bespoke elements.
On entering the property you are greeted by a contemporary take on the traditional entrance hall. Elements such as joinery are retained, but the feeling is one of light and space. This is further reinforced by the lighting, which features ‘feathery’ wall lights inset into mirrored panelling, and a matching feathered pendant light overhead. Good lighting in interior design is the equivalent of good jewellery, complementing and finishing the look and style of an ‘outfit’, or interior. In this case, the lighting adds the exquisite finishing touch throughout the property.
The drawing room has a relaxed, grown-up feel, thanks to a pair of large, cobalt-blue sofas and floor-to-ceiling panelling. The glamorous feel is enhanced with the inclusion of an enormous crystal drop chandelier, which takes centre-stage in the room. The effect is even more pronounced as it is reflected in the mirror above the fireplace, which adds a sense of depth to this otherwise narrow room.
For more relaxed entertainment, the family hang out in the media room which has been fitted out with the full digital cinema experience as well as a drop-down screen for cinema viewing, plus integral surround sound. The designers made sure there is plenty of upholstered seating for a really comfortable big screen experience. Functional lighting is provided by recessed ceiling spots, and the oversized sculptural floor lamp echoes the softness and textures in this room.
The kitchen is where we can really understand the scale of the extension of the property. The extension allows for the inclusion of an 8-seater dining table within a conservatory-like space. A seamless blend of old and new is created here by the mix of furniture and lighting – a contemporary dining table and chairs teamed with a traditional hand-painted kitchen, complemented by sleek pendant lighting above the table, and lantern lighting above the kitchen island.
One of the special added features of the house is a fabulous tasting room just off the kitchen. The space is flanked with wine and champagne cases, with a high-level backlit onyx table with bar stools creating a focal point. DK Home hanging lights over this striking table create an subtly lit atmosphere that, according to Simon, creates ‘the perfect environment in which to sip cocktails’.
Eating is also a pleasure here thanks to carefully considered design planning, making the dining room the last word in luxury. A solid wood herringbone pattern floor contrasts with the softness of the bespoke silk wool rug; and the highly lacquered dining table is surrounded by 10 bespoke dining chairs, upholstered in cream with striking blue trellis-pattern backs. A breathtaking rock crystal chandelier above the table and matching wall lights cast a diffused glow over this simple yet stunning space.
More opportunities for unwinding can be found at lower ground floor level: ‘The bootroom off the kitchen has a staircase which takes you down below to a complete spa experience’, says Simon. ‘This is an impressive space, where the spa itself is raised from the deck level of the swimming pool, and the steam room and sauna sit together in a circular fashion to complement the circular spa’. There are no sharp angles or corners here, which adds to the overwhelming sense of wellness and relaxation. This is enhanced by the oversized chandelier of hand blown crystals and matching wall lights. Mirror is used to maximum effect here along the wall above the swimming pool – enlarging the space and reflecting the chandelier as well as the light bouncing off the water.
The Design Practice by Uber has access to a range of craftsmen who are commissioned for individual projects. In the vicarage study, they took advantage of the chance to include some rather special woodwork. ‘This room is something of a temple to bespoke joinery’, says Simon. ‘The desk and cabinetry are all made in a special ‘fumed oak’, and we extended this finish to the windows, architraves and panelling.’ The general lighting consists of discreet recessed ceiling spots, whilst ambient feature lighting is provided by the integral LED lighting inset into the bespoke cabinetry.
Next Simon takes us upstairs to the first floor: “Here we introduce a kind of ’boutique hotel’ ethos’, explains Simon. ‘We wanted to create an air of sumptuous comfort, punctuated with design surprises.’ This has been achieved in the master bedroom by a clever combination of textures, finishes, and lighting elements, including a silver snake leather chest of drawers, oversized sculptural floor lamps, sculptural pendant and wall lighting with bronzed and gilded interiors. ‘We designed the bespoke headboard with LED surround to give a halo effect to this fully upholstered bedhead,’ Simon points out.
In the master bathroom suite, integral floor lights around the bath – dressed in silver metallic crocodile leather – throw light upwards, allowing the bath to really stand out against the backdrop of the bookmatched Labrador quartz stone, inlaid to the wall. The twin mirrors above the vanity unit are flanked by matching oval crystal drop wall lights. All these elements combine to enhance the meticulous attention to detail and exquisite finish of this master bathroom.
Another on the first floor definitely nods towards the heritage of the property, being traditional in look and feel. Traditional sanitaryware, including a slipper bath, sits against a backdrop of monochrome marble and textured leather effect walls. The look is completed with a pair of Victorian style glass lamps above the vanity unit.
An eye for beautiful materials combined with a skilled and creative team have resulted in transforming a charming vicarage into a beautiful 21st century family home.
The Design Practice by Uber – www.thedesignpractice.com