The village property improvement challenge that paid off for the Brooks
WHEN Chris and Jenny Brook were searching for a new home, the idea of taking on a project wasn’t exactly on their radar.
But when they found property ripe for development in the village of Holmbridge they felt the opportunity was too good to pass up.
However, they had a big conversion task ahead of them as they had not one but three derelict properties to contend with.
Chris, a sales manager, said: “We loved the area and the properties really appealed to us despite the fact that they were in a very poor state of repair.
“There were three properties – two cottages on the roadside and an under-dwelling – that we would knock into one, making a very substantial family house laid over four floors.”
The couple, who at the time had four young children, had a real challenge ahead of them as although someone had attempted to start the project before them, they had barely scratched the surface.
Chris, 63, said: “He had made a start on doing what we ended up doing, but he had only started to knock a few walls down when he ran out of money and ended up having to sell-up.
“My wife and I hadn’t really been looking to develop, but we saw the potential of this project.
“We knew it would be a massive challenge, but we both had the imagination and vision to visualise how superb it would look once it was completed.”
To the side of one of the original cottages is a stone bearing the date 1863, but the couple believe this is when alterations were made and their home is much older, perhaps dating back to the early 1800s.
It is still full of original features and the couple think that the windows on the top floor, along with some sagging in the floors, indicate weavers once operated machinery there.
The project to convert the properties into one big family home often involved working against its age with workers having to cut through solid 18ins thick walls as they transformed it.
The layout was also completely changed with a huge top floor lounge occupying space previously used to house a bedroom and bathroom.
Chris said: “It was a big challenge, but we got great satisfaction out of doing it and knowing how much we had achieved with it. You can’t really tell by looking at it from the outside, but the house is like an Aladdin’s cave when you get into it.
“It’s a very quirky house, definitely not the usual layout you would find with a modern house.
“But we absolutely loved it and knew we would spend a good many years in it with our family.”
The couple were delighted with the finished look of their home – and they have lavished hours perfecting the interior over the years.
The lounge is particularly lovely with features including exposed stone walls and beams along with views to both sides of the property.
Chris said: “Everyone calls this the TV room as it’s a comfortable place to come and relax.
“The kitchen is another favourite of ours as it really is something else. It’s modern but done in a way that is sympathetic to the rest of the house, with features like the fireplace.
“My wife is very orientated around interior design and is responsible for picking out the colours and furniture. She is of the view that you can mix the modern with old and that has certainly worked very well in this house.”
The couple’s ‘wow’ factor leads out on to a decked sun balcony which makes the most of their home’s stunning views across the Holme Valley. The house is surrounded by large landscaped gardens.
Chris says: “The garden was a real wilderness when we moved in so we spent a lot of time getting it landscaped.
“We also had a garden room built which is a lovely sociable space where people tend to gather when they come round!”
A few years after moving in, the couple also decided to buy the cottage next door which they converted into a holiday let.
Chris and Jenny have decided to sell their home of 25 years to downsize, but want to remain in the area as their children still live nearby.
Chris said: “We are very proud of the house and have put so much thought and effort into planning it and making it our own.
“We still love it to bits and are very sorry to leave. It’s a superb family house, but with our own children having left it’s time to move on.”
Extensive property with individual character.
Versatile rooms with further potential in unused basement.
Lovely newly-fitted dining kitchen and wine cellar.
Extensive gardens with sociable garden room.
Woodhead Road, Holmbridge is on the market with Yorkshire’s Finest estate agents on 0845 604 2887. The couple would also consider selling the holiday let as a separate deal.