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House in the Trees – with Yoghurt

House in the Trees – with Yoghurt

Do you remember the Grand Designs episode, which began with Kevin McCloud on the deck of the Fishbourne ferry, leaving the mainland behind him and waxing lyrically about the couple building a yoghurt house in the trees on the Isle of Wight?

Well it’s not just a yoghurt house, it is a Lincoln Miles designed and multi-flavoured yoghurt house. A beautiful butterfly of a home that has made a metamorphosis from what was a 1960s bog standard bungalow, complete with fake-stone walls, into a contemporary masterpiece complete with moat and tower.

Just Add Yoghurt

Also known as ‘The Treehouse’, because it sits in the middle of ancient woodland neat Quarr Abbey, the old bungalow part of the building is now clad in a rustic singed larch that had to be burnt before being put up on the building. And the top of the tower is in the canopy of the surrounding woodland: clad in a material used for building cowsheds.

But it was the yoghurt that was a crowd puller – although it’s not really a building material, more of a cosmetic afterthought. Yes it is painted onto the corrugated cowshed sheets, but no it’s not holding the walls up.

It’s not encouraging moss and lichen yet either, but it will…and it was amusing to see Kevin McCloud from Grand Designs elbow deep in ordure of the bovine variety when he went to Briddlesford Lodge Farm to mix different formulas of yoghurt and other ‘natural materials’ to paint onto the walls.

To Be or not to Be?

Lisa Traxler and Lincoln Miles could have just demolished the two/three bedroom down-at-heel house that stood on the site and started from scratch. But on the programme the pair spoke of their rather ugly purchase with glowing terms. They had come to love her, whilst living within her and planning their grand design, seventies stone fireplace and all.

“It was quite a hindrance having to build around her,” said Linc. ‘We had to build the tower building first and then start on our studios at the other end because we had to get around the bungalow to get access to the back, but our main contractor John Peck worked around it.”

Now the building has definite wow factor without being ostentatiously over the top. The path that wends its way across the lawn and over the moated entranceway is made of council style kerbstones for example.

But the wall inside the front door, screening the open plan kitchen/diner and garden room from prying eyes is an amazing bespoke statement, as artist friend Garry Whitehead covered it in a pop art style cartoon strip mural in three shades of green.

In fact it is the artwork in and around the Treehouse that really puts the icing on the cake – from Lisa’s amazing abstract enamel frieze on the bottom of the tower, that she made at AJ Wells, to the individual art pieces in every room in the house.

Funky Features

The home is also a working museum for a whole host of genuine and neo vintage fifties/sixties/seventies posters, coasters and furniture. A spectacular seventies glass lampshade, a sunburst clock on the stone fireplace in the bungalow wing, the blue lady coasters on the oak tapered leg coffee table, a bobble ended magazine rack, Parker Knoll chairs that Lisa managed to get re-covered by the original company and Ridgeway Homemaker Pottery plates for afternoon tea.

But it is the contemporary features that dazzle – the master bedroom in the tower overlooking the trees with its own terrace, and on the first floor below the decadence of their own dressing room, and a wet room with huge shower and a sunken bath looking out over a roof terrace.

Glass Ceiling

Looking down from this terrace and you see right through the glass ceiling panel, which is to the front of the kitchen/diner and also down onto the enormous sliding American walnut doors made that open the whole of the side of this room to the garden.

The glass panel allows light to flood into the contemporary kitchen, where you can dine at the breakfast bar on fifties upholstered bar stools or at the metal dining table on an original Victorian cinema seat.

Walk down from here into the ‘snug’ that sits beneath the tower and you’re in a cosy contemporary and vintage sitting room, complete with Charnwood wood burning stove.

A brand new building now sits where the garage once stood and both Lisa and Lincoln can now work from home as there is a large studio for Lisa’s lovely artwork, opening out onto the garden, and Lincoln’s architectural office.

All in all you can tell that this was not only a labour of love, but also a labour with love. See the build at www.treehouseisleofwight.co.uk