Bringing the Bacon Home: Keeping Character in a Former Pigsty | Interiors
For a builder to have a fondness for grandma’s delicate and flowery 1950s teacups is somewhat peculiar, but for New Zealander Martin Gane and his English wife, interior designer Elle Kemp, looking for the traditional has always been preferable to the new.
Their family home, a listed Victorian pigsty in Gloucestershire, is a master class in traditional techniques and design. When they discovered it eight years ago, the building was little more than a neglected ruin. A series of crumbling internal brick walls supported a leaking roof and the floor was bare earth. The few doors attached to it had been badly eaten away by previous residents, and most of the bricks were worn.
But, for Martin and Elle and their young sons, it was ideal. They were looking for a project or land to build on, but with high prices in the UK, they dreamed of returning to New Zealand. They knew, however, that their zeal for old and salvaged materials would have been dissatisfied there. “We are hunter-gatherers,” says Elle, “we love found and picked objects.
Constrained by strict building rules, they had to keep the original walls and the old pigsties connected by a hallway, with a storeroom at one end, now the living room, where an old copper vat originally used for constituting food had been abandoned. In the chimney.
These rules informed their design plans, and very early on, they decided to stick to traditional building processes and materials. They later discovered that it had been designed by the Victorian architect Benjamin bucknall – very unusual for a farm building. Bucknall, a pioneer of Gothic Revival architecture, also designed nearby Woodchester Manor.
As a child, She had grown up in a series of new builds and Martin, halfway around the world, was the son of a farmer in the wild hills of the Southern Alps of New Zealand. They met when Martin was living and working in a large English country estate, falling in love with a common obsession with historic buildings.
Every element of their work is on display. “It’s honest, because it shows,” says Martin. “This meant that we were particularly attentive to the quality of the work. She adds: “We wanted to keep everything as is, as much as possible. The pleasure of having an old building is seeing it and we didn’t want to lose its inherent character.
These traditions are present everywhere, giving their home a comfortable living feeling. After Martin sealed the roof and restored the walls, the pavers stored in the courtyard were moved back to the master bedroom.
“Someone took the mantel down and put those bricks in the yard as well, so we rebuilt it.” She continues, “We didn’t have the original plans, but we could see the line of smoke stains on the wall, so we went with that and tried to keep it as close to the original as possible. “
In the bathrooms, three in number, every piece of piping is exposed. The leftover copper pipes were made into a ramp by the inventive Martin, who also made Elle’s engagement ring from a slice of pipe.
Inspired by their favorite pub, the Woolpack, in Slad, they used the elements they cherished most: cozy nooks, dark wood and worn seating as a design principle and set out to research and build their kitchen. and their comfort.
The result is a dense kitchen in glossy black paint and woodwork. Salvaged cabinets were reinvented by Martin for storing utensils, brass hooks await coats and umbrellas by the door, and there are rows of old books and ceramic pots filled with dried flowers and feathers. If you added a pint of bitter and a dog at your feet, it would be complete.
“This is our cave, it is dark, enveloping and all natural,” Elle says.
The comfortable is furnished with worn sofas, threadbare rugs and period paintings. An old prison cell door, found at Frome Reclamation, serves as a partition for the hallway. She says her design style is “a very evolutionary process, I like it to happen over time. I would prefer things to be dropped. My style is nonchalant. Materials are everything, ”she concludes. “Traditional materials look great, they stay forever, they age well – why wouldn’t you choose that? “