Big Views


When a big old landscape is on your doorstep, you want more than a kitchen window to look through and enjoy it.

That was the case for the owners of this farmhouse high on the hills near Sunniside on the outskirts of Whickham which had a real ‘top of the world’ feel to it.

The owners relocated from a property in Whickham when they decided they wanted some stables and horses.

A chance meeting led to them discovering a house with huge views and the ideal outbuildings for their ‘live the dream’ life, with fresh air and animals part of the deal.

It was the location and situation of the house they fell in love with: “It has amazing sunrises and sunsets and is so dark at night because there are no streetlights.

“We call it out little idyll. It is in a lovely spot with Causey Arch and Beamish nearby,” says the owner.

The house was certainly a project. It was built in the 1990s in a farmhouse style, but needed a complete revamp.

The owners lived in it for a while so they could see how it worked and spent the first year or so getting the gardens and stables sorted.

Once the horses were comfortable, they turned their attention to the human living space.

They called on the team at Greatlook Design Studio when they decided they wanted to re-configure the ground floor rooms and kitchen and get the most out of their living space.

“We wanted it to be ‘wow’ but we also wanted it to be practical. It is a house that needs to cope with a lot of muddy boots and some cocker spaniels too!”, she says.

They managed to achieve the wow factor but also make it a house which works for the family.

A serious ‘wow’ comes in the form of a huge oak and glass garden room, which oozes into the landscape surrounding it and captures the expanse of peaceful countryside.

It leads from the newly-designed kitchen, “a place where we hang out all day,” says the owner.

It has the sociability and space that people tap into these days, leading off the kitchen making a relaxed and comfortable space where you can cook and chat and generally chill out.

The garden room was in the process of being built when the Greatlook Design Studio team were brought in to design the other parts of the house.

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The room has bi-fold doors that on sunny days open out to let the sunshine and fine views take centre stage.

The design of the kitchen makes the most of the shape of the house – there is a sense of ‘open plan’ with the hall and kitchen within the same space.

It was also essential, however, that the garden room could be closed off from the kitchen: “So the cocker spaniels didn’t think we had bought the fabulous Greatlook Design Studio sofa in there just from them to enjoy”, admits the owner.

“We completely left the design to the team. We were quite limited with space because of limitation of the building, but they managed to give us masses of clever storage without it looking as though we have loads of cupboards. I’m not sure how they do that, but it works!

“When we started the kitchen they took us down to a granite supplier. It’s an astonishing place – I’d tell anyone to go there first and see the amazing granite they have, and then design your kitchen around it. We were blown away by it.

“You see huge slabs of granite and really get a sense of how it would look in a room, rather than a tiny square block of it,” the owner adds.

The clever use of space meant that storage was maximised thanks to the latest thinking in kitchen design – storage drawers rather than cupboards and smaller utensil drawers within deeper drawers – and making the most of every area of the kitchen.

The owners called on the Greatlook Design Studio team to design their bedroom and were so impressed that they asked them to do the rest of the bedrooms in the house.

They also fitted new bathrooms and the owner was delighted with the result, making a home bathroom feel more like a spa.

“I think I am quite moderate in my tastes and would never have thought of having a grey bathroom, but they made me think outside of the box and put new ideas to me all the time. I really love the bathroom, it’s fabulous.

“It was like having a bespoke house fitting. The team came and looked at the garden room and suggested a modular sofa. I thought the size would be far too big, but it fits the space perfectly and we use that room so much it has been perfect.

“I think sometimes you need coaxing to come round to ideas and you need to be helped to ‘think big!”