Creating Homes With Minimal Environmental Impact

LECHLADE, ENGLAND — The lakeside home of John and Kasha Grimes was designed to maximize views across the water and to bring natural light flooding inside.

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The four-bedroom property, built as the couple’s second home, overlooks Huntsman’s Lake, near Lechlade, in the English county of Gloucestershire. It is one of 40 residences built among six lakes and 650 acres, or more than 250 hectares, of countryside.

“We started coming to this area in 2004. It was easy to reach from London, and had beautiful countryside and lots of picturesque villages,” said Mr. Grimes, who works in the construction industry. “At first we just came up for holidays and weekends but we liked it so much we decided to move to the area and we now have a home in nearby Driffield.”

The couple was introduced in 2007 to The Lakes country estate, where property experts were collaborating with ecologists and local conservationists to create homes with minimal environmental impact. The lakes were once used for gravel extraction, but nature took its course — the pits filled with fresh water and the area became a natural habitat for wildlife. The Grimeses’ home is clad in cedar to blend into the surrounding landscape and was designed to ensure high levels of energy efficiency and to benefit from solar heat gain through its large windows.

The estate project is a joint venture between The Raven Group and the award-winning design company Yoo, founded by the property entrepreneur John Hitchcox and the designer Philippe Starck.

“We were the first people to have a home built here,” Mr. Grimes said. “It was the whole lifestyle it offered that appealed to us.”

His wife added: “I was brought up by the sea, so the idea of living next to water once again was absolutely irresistible. We loved the idea of living in one big family space and the way each of the main rooms opened on to a 52.5-foot veranda.”

The couple bought the home on a pre-construction basis in December 2007 and saw it completed in September 2008. While they do not want to disclose how much they paid, similar new homes with four, five or six bedrooms now range from £870,000 to £3 million, or about $1.3 million to $4.5 million. Construction is continuing at the development, which has planning permission for a total of 160 homes.

The house’s interior design was overseen by Mrs. Grimes, who opted for a contemporary style to complement the clean lines and square design of the 2,900-square-foot, or 270-square-meter, timber-framed home.

“We really kept furniture to a minimum and I have always believed in neutral schemes, with pattern, color and texture limited to cushions and throws,” she said. She used accessories in baby pink, plum and red for contrast.

The open plan, 673-square-foot living area, which incorporates sitting, dining and kitchen spaces, features a bank of glass doors that can be opened along the lake side.

“In order not to block the view with solid pieces of furniture, we chose clear dining chairs contrasted by a slim black dining table,” Mrs. Grimes said. “And to augment the sense of natural light, all the main elements are cream, such as the glossy cream kitchen units and a large, semi-circular leather seating unit.”

One 180-square-foot bedroom and a family bathroom also are on the ground floor. On the upper floor are three more bedrooms, including the 344-square-foot master bedroom. Each has an ensuite bathroom and vistas of the lake.

“It is lovely. There is a feeling of being on a cruise ship,” Mrs. Grimes said. “It doesn’t matter what season it is, or what the weather is like, there is always something different to see.”

To integrate the house visually, each room was painted white and has at least one large black-and-white canvas, the work of a local artist, Emily Parker. “John and I, and our daughters, went round the area, photographing landscapes, swans, ducks and trees and then we simply chose our favorites. We then asked Emily to reproduce them for us on canvas.”

The family now spends as much time as possible at the house, often up to three months a year. At other times they rent it out through the agency Unique Home Stays, charging roughly £2,500 to £4,250 a week, depending on the season.

“We are very pleased with the way it has turned out and how comfortable the house is to live in,” Mr. Grimes said.

A version of this article appeared in print on December 2, 2011, in The International Herald Tribune with the headline: Creating Homes With Minimal Environmental Impact.

~ by FSVSF Admin on 5 December, 2011.

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