Express & Star

Former garage plot transformed into award-winning bijou village home

An architect has clinched a top national award for her work on designing a bijou residence near Stourbridge that packs a mighty punch.

Little Lodge in Kinver, designed by Andrea Millner, which has won the Daily Telegraph Homebuilding & Renovating award for 'Spirit of Self-Build'

It may be small and on a ‘tricky’ site – but “Little Lodge”, tucked away down the Chenevare Mews shopping mall, off Kinver High Street – has proved to be a towering light in the world of architecture.

The two-bedroomed, oak-framed house – now the dream home of Kinver marketing and advertising agency boss Samantha Parr – has won the 2019 Daily Telegraph Homebuilding & Renovating award in the competition’s ‘Spirit of Self-Build’ section.

Both architect Andrea Millner and Samantha – who managed the self-build project herself, completing the construction within just 15 weeks – are delighted to have earned the accolade.

Michelle Guy, assistant editor of Homebuilding and Renovating magazine, said: “This beautifully designed compact self-build is a masterclass in what can be achieved in a remarkable 15 weeks with a clear vision, a dose of tenacity and sheer grit.

"Building on such a tight site wasn’t easy but with the traders, designers and homeowner all working together, the result is a house that’s packed full of well-crafted detail and personality.”

Andrea, based at her family home in Drakelow Lane, Wolverley, said: “We were chuffed to bits to have even been shortlisted for such a prestigious national award and quite literally bowled over to find out we have won.”

Little Lodge owner Samantha Parr (left) and architect Andrea Millner on the balcony of the award-winning house. Photo: Lyndon Darkes

Samantha said: “I love my home and its location in the heart of this historic village. The team of people who helped realise my vision were brilliant. I was on a tight timescale and budget.”

She added: “Andrea was great at flooding light into the property with the use of glass and the design maximises space as it has a vaulted ceiling.

"I used local builders and sourced materials locally, from the concrete to the conservation approved bricks.

"I also am passionate about interior designer and delighted in finding unusual pieces locally and commissioning work including the stairs from the company that did the staircase at Banks’s Brewery.”

The site that Samantha chose for her new home measures just 10m by 14m and formerly housed a double garage.

It presented some tough issues for Andrea to grapple with as it was in a flood zone, with shallow sewers, in a conservation area and next to the Grade II listed old Midland Bank premises, originally built in the late 17th century.

The result of the teamwork is a grand design with a vaulted ceiling, flooded with light, that delivers the ‘wow factor’.

The north elevation of award-winning Little Lodge, designed by Wolverley architect Andrea Millner. Photo: Lyndon Darkes

Andrea explained that the challenge was to create a private house on a compact site, without a sense of overlooking – or being overlooked – while also protecting the conservation area and the setting of a Grade II listed building.

She added: “The result is a home full of light and warmth, with controlled views out over the trees bordering the flood plain of the River Stour, with multiple views of the sky.

“It is a home that sits comfortably in its environment, was completed on budget and within 15 weeks. And it’s all because of the great working relationship between the construction team members, the client, architect, specialist contractors and the local authority building inspector for South Staffordshire.”

Samantha selected the building materials of French oak, supplied by Prime Oak, a company based in Swindon, near Kinver, and the specialist bricks and reclaimed roof tiles. The building was manufactured off site and transported to Chenevare Mews piece by piece.

Architect Andrea Millner (left) and advertising agency boss Samantha Parr, pictured with her mini schnauzer Ronnie, inside the award-winning 'Little Lodge' in Kinver. Photo: Lyndon Darkes

The energy-efficient building used the latest construction techniques but, because of such restricted access to the site, the 2m deep foundations had to be laid through hand digging, alongside the use of a mini digger.

Due to the constriction of surrounding buildings, the house has been ‘flipped’ so that the main, open plan living spaces are upstairs, where the vaulted ceiling allows light to flood down the staircase even to the bedrooms on the lower level. A raised ground floor was incorporated to overcome the flood plain issue.

Samantha said: “I have spent most of my life in Kinver and love the village. I had always wanted to build my own home and had a small piece of land off the High Street which threw up many challenges, including access.

“Wherever possible I have tried to play an active part in the community. I developed the old doctor’s surgery, which was awarded best frontage in the Kinver Best Kept Village award and I am thrilled with the success of my latest venture, ‘Little Lodge’.

“It was a steep learning curve for me but consulting and engaging with the parish council and local council helped enormously. The local authority building inspector was brilliant and said it was the nicest building he had worked on in a 40-year career.”