The Lowick House

A Look Inside the Lowick House

Take a look inside the Lowick House, a self-build project in North Northumberland and the beautiful new home of Lydia and Arthur Achard…

The Lowick House is a new-build timber-frame family home created by Lydia and Arthur Achard in a spectacular rural setting five miles from Lindisfarne, off the Northumberland coast.

It was designed by architect Giles Arthur Architects, with the timber frame supplied by Fleming Homes. Technical design and realisation was by Fleming Homes’ Asher Humprey-Martin and project management by the Achards themselves.

As a couple with a young family, Lydia and Arthur had fallen in love with the peace, beauty and wildlife of the local area, and were keen to make a home that would grow with them and prove sustainable, both environmentally and financially.

“We both grew up in the countryside,” says Arthur.

“And wanted to keep the charm and character of the area and make something that settles back into its surroundings.”

The Lowick House

The Transformation of the Lowick House

This is a new build comprising two distinct elements linked by a spectacular glass winter garden. The couple’s design vision came from the footprint of a farmhouse and steading ruin on the site, which was uninhabited for some 50 years.

“The land was taking it back, with trees growing through,” says Lydia.

“We used the original footprint and a lot of the old stone, giving the site a new lease of life in keeping with its original spirit.”

The two-storey farmhouse section is based on the quirky original footprint and consists of three spacious bedrooms, family bathroom, ensuite, family kitchen, pantry, dining room, family room and cloakroom.

A sloped roof window provides stunning views across the fields from the mezzanine balcony.

The single-storey L-section houses flexible guest accommodation and a garage and is timber clad, resembling a black barn in appearance. Inside it is light and airy, with French windows creating flow between indoors and out.

Both sections have traditional orange clay pantiles, in keeping with the vernacular of the pre-existing buildings.

The winter garden is a new addition to the original footprint, linking the separate steading foundations into one seamless building and acting as a transition between the private and guest-facing areas.

This modern design features extensive glazing, with French windows, full height side windows and an overhead angled roof light which offers starry dark sky views.

The resulting space is light and open, and incorporates beautiful, exposed stonework excavated by Arthur from the original farmhouse foundations.

The Lowick House

The Architectural Design

“The walls were nearly two feet thick, so this was a huge undertaking,” admits Arthur.

“I was out every day with a steel saw, stacking pallets of stone.”

The design shows great sensitivity to local architectural and farming heritage, combining historical inspiration and recycled building materials alongside modern technology and design solutions.

The contemporary winter garden makes the most of the views. All while creating a natural transition between the private and guest-facing sections of the building. The three-in-one building design called for three different roof solutions (vaulted, raised tie and horizontal) which needed to be linked and provide thermal continuity – a considerable technical challenge.

During the build, several adjustments had to be made to the frames and roof trusses. All of which were made possible by close collaboration with a responsive team, willing to adapt to a dynamic site situation. This resulted in comparably favourable u-value ratings for the external walls and roof areas.

Arthur says: “It was amazing to see it turn up on the back of a lorry in sections and then just slot together. Linking the two building elements called for minute accuracy. The Fleming Homes team were on site working closely with the joiners, for no extra charge.

“Whenever there was an issue, they were here to sort it out. They wanted us to be happy as customers and we were very grateful for their support.”

The timber frame structural system was essential to the success of this project, say Lydia and Arthur. Timber frame flexibility allowed the architect and builders to respond to the quirky site footprint. As well as create a complex three-in-one building that can evolve with the couple’s future needs.

The Lowick House

The Importance of Sustainability

The erection time to wind-and-watertight in three weeks was vital, because of the remote location and changeable Northumbrian coastal weather.

As the Achards explained, they’d previously owned old, draughty buildings, and were attracted to the sustainable qualities of timber as a construction material, as well as the reduced running costs.

“The flexibility and sustainability was a big thing for us,” says Lydia.

“Don’t underestimate what you can do with wood as a product.”

Arthur’s reuse of existing stone excavated from the site, and a ground source heat pump, contributed further to the building’s eco-friendly credentials.

The Lowick House

The Result of The Lowick House

The outcome of their efforts is a unique property, achieved during uncertain times, with huge input from the self-builders themselves. Lydia and Arthur’s superpower was to surround themselves with excellent trades and firms. That includes Fleming Homes, who were willing to support them with advice and guidance at all the critical points. All to ensure they achieved their vision.

The couple highly recommend Fleming Homes and say:

“If we did it again, we’d definitely go back! Thank you to all the people who helped us to achieve this dream house.”

Through their hands-on approach, the Achards have achieved an outstanding home in terms of quality and design. In that way, fitting their evolving requirements, at a low price per square meter.

When COVID drastically reduced Arthur’s workload in the live events industry, he was able to do much of the work himself. This included demolishing the existing buildings, marking out trenches and pouring the concrete slab. As well as excavating stone, installation of the underfloor heating, site fitted insulation and all plumbing pipework. Plus, sanitary ware as well as the ground source heat pump.

Lydia, meanwhile, looked after the interior design, research, and project management.

The Lowick House

About the Designer of The Lowick House

The Achard’s decided to move into the house and decorate as they went along so that they would have a better idea of where the light fell through the property and what colours and furniture would suit.

Lydia took the lead on the interiors, seeking out colour schemes and themes that caught her eye on instagram and magazines initially and bringing her ideas together with the help of their local joiners and decorators.

A high-end London-based company inspired the kitchen. And that is the heart of the house. Enlisting the help of local Callerton Kitchens to recreate the same wow factor aesthetic within the couples budget.

“We spent money on the right colours, good-quality handles, Corian worktops and colourful local art,” says Lydia.

“Annabel Mills sourced and made the fabrics using materials supplied by Northumberland designer Charlotte Gaisford.

“We’re happy with the result. The house is constantly evolving and we’ve only just scratched the surface of what’s possible”.