4 May 2022

The Feel Good Project, Nottingham

The Feel Good project is a modern extension of a house located on the edge of a nature reserve, which not only resulted in an outstanding design but also had a positive effect on the surrounding community.

The Brief

The property is set within an area of outstanding beauty. However, the owner felt he was unable to enjoy the views or access the garden easily due to its outdated design.

Working collaboratively, we designed a modern extension with floor to ceiling glazing, which would allow the family to pass effortlessly between the outdoor and indoor spaces. A sequence of terraces and roof gardens further enables the homeowners to enjoy different external spaces and zones at different times of day.

With all projects we are mindful that dwellings need to fit in fluidly with the properties surrounding them. We analysed the nature and buildings of the surrounding area and sourced local stone to match the original stone walls exposed around the site.

What We Did 

We designed contemporary additions of glass, canopies and an uninterrupted steel framework to create connectivity between the new, yet historically styled, walls. We made careful use of contrasting light and shade, texture and materials.

The rear of the property was completely transformed: originally a rather tall, overbearing, flat building, it is now an elevation of prominence and elegance which is pleasing on both horizontal and vertical axes.

We gathered design styles and ideas from all over the world, delivering a scheme that is nonetheless cohesive and at ease with its dramatic surroundings. The gradually diminishing width of form makes the property less dominating on the skyline, and the design creates a sense of the building flowing down into the garden and into the nature reserve below.

As a result, the house is now intrinsically connected to the outside through its roof terraces, balconies and stepped access.


Access to the site was difficult because the property sits at nine metres below street level, surrounded by steep slopes and trees. We had to carefully plot and plan vehicular access along the winding, steep, private road of the estate; accurate schematic drawings were prepared to ensure cranes could deliver the large items such as steel and glass that were needed for construction.

Prior to work commencing we carried out test-runs to ensure that raw materials could be safely delivered. For certain fragile items we created a platform to bridge the half-metre gap between the bottom of the delivery truck boom and the ground level.

We agreed terms with Nottingham City Council for access to the project from across the park; we also involved the local community early on, engaging with neighbours on deliveries and crane movements to keep their inconvenience to a minimum. We also ensured regular maintenance of the road and removal of waste to further minimise disruption.

In addition, the COVID-19 outbreak meant we had to create additional health and safety protocols to ensure the project could continue and that the people working on it would feel safe.

Working Sustainably

As a south-facing property with a significant amount of glazing, the previous home would regularly overheat. The owners of the Feel Good project assumed they needed to invest in air conditioning; however, we were able to effectively reduce the average temperature of the house by using solar shading and strategically placed windows to create a natural stack ventilation system.

Furthermore, the creation of a sequence of terraces and roof gardens means the homeowners can now enjoy the external spaces and zones at different times of day.

Externally, the project also involved sculpting the lower part of the garden adjacent to the nature reserve. 19 houses are situated next to the nature reserve, but unfortunately the poor access meant that the community found it difficult to enjoy the nature on its doorstep. By resculpting the area next to the property we were able to enhance access to the nature reserve for the local community and the wider public. The owner of the property is also implementing a wildlife plan to further enhance this aspect of the local environment.

Feel Good All Round

Our clients were delighted with their re-modelled and extended home; it has made a significant difference to their lives and the way that they use the house. The surrounding community has also been very positively affected by the build, which has in turn improved their well-being.

See more of our Feel Good project

25 April 2022

Priory Road, Nottinghamshire

Priory House is a conversion of a bungalow into a two-storey stunning spacious family home in West Bridgford, a residential area in Nottinghamshire.

The Brief

We were appointed to design a spacious home with five generous bedrooms, a large open-plan living space with easy access onto the gardens as well as an office, cinema room and reading spaces. 

Although the existing plot suited the clients’ requirements, the single story layout did not meet their family’s needs.

The bungalow occupied a commanding corner on one of the most prestigious roads in the area. Earlier applications to demolish the building and create multiple dwellings had been refused due to the prominent location and the style of the designs proposed.

We worked closely with the clients and the planning department to design a striking, contemporary family home which wouldn’t overwhelm adjacent structures, sitting harmoniously in the street and retaining a synergy with the adjacent arts-and-crafts style buildings.


The local planning authority were highly conscious of the key location of this corner plot, so any development had to be scaled appropriately. We anticipated initial resistance to a two-storey development, so we engaged with planners and liaised with neighbours at the earliest opportunity to ensure that our proposals were accepted as being in proportion and in keeping with the site.

Working Sustainably

We had to carefully plan our structural strategy due to the additional loads being applied to the existing building. We were able to avoid the need for underpinning, using instead a timber-framed design on the upper floor, along with individual pad foundations and a steel structure. This also meant we avoided tonnes of concrete being poured into the ground, making this a more sustainable solution.

A New Identity 

The strong design features and structure of the existing bungalow had to be carefully unpicked in order to successfully invest the property with its new identity.

The project had two key elevations to consider, each facing a different road. We worked with a neutral palette of charred black timber, white render and glass, keeping the main elevation simple while emphasising other elements to create character and focus.

The proportions of the first floor gables were designed to reference those of the surrounding buildings, and the steel-framed glazing and monochrome colour scheme further complemented the existing property.

The internal spaces retain much of the bungalow’s original layout, with new zones carved into the original footprint. The upper floor is accessed by a central feature staircase, and we used the existing spine walls to create a central corridor giving access to each bedroom. We retained the original doorway and created a striking new entrance hall.

Within the open plan kitchen and living space we created discreet activity zones: a reading corner and a dedicated relaxing space in the mezzanine above the sitting area.

The result is a contemporary, striking yet harmonious home perfectly designed for a family with growing children. 

See more of our Priory Road project

14 April 2022

Residential Property of the Year East Midlands – Shortlisted

We are thrilled that our ‘Feel Good’ project has been shortlisted for the ‘Residential Property of the Year’ in the Constructing Excellence East Midlands Awards 2022. 

This prestigious award recognises architectural developments that provide a desirable and sustainable place to live. 

Our Feel Good project is a bespoke, residential architectural project on an existing property based in Nottinghamshire. The home had an outdated design, so we extended the property and modified internal and external spaces to give it a new lease of life. 

In collaboration with the clients, we designed a modern extension with floor to ceiling glazing. A sequence of terraces and roof gardens were created so that the homeowners could enjoy the various external spaces at different times of day. The new design included many sustainable benefits, latest technologies and positive improvements to the surrounding area. 

We are very excited to be shortlisted for this award and are looking forward to the awards dinner which is being held at the Athena in Leicester on Thursday 9th June 2022.

See more of our 'Feel Good' project

8 April 2022

RICS Awards 2022 – Residential Project, Shortlisted

RICS Awards 2022 - Residential project

We are excited to announce that we have been shortlisted for Residential Project in the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Awards 2022. 

We are delighted and truly honoured to have been shortlisted for this prestigious national award which recognises outstanding achievement in the land, real estate, construction and infrastructure sectors. 

See more of our shortlisted entry - The Feel Good project.

1 April 2022

Newton House, Derbyshire

Newton House is a contemporary new dwelling with carefully designed outdoor living and entertaining spaces set in a stunning rural location in Derbyshire.

The Brief

Our clients wanted a dwelling they could retreat to when visiting the UK. We were charged with creating a very large property with multiple guest accommodations that reflected a sense of the clients’ personalities while also respecting the peace of its bucolic location.

As friends and family would also be staying regularly at the property, five self-contained guest suites were required. In addition, our clients required a summer house which could be used for entertaining separately, as well as housing an annexe where another family group could stay.

Outdoor living was important to the client, so an outdoor kitchen, fire pits, hot tub and swimming pool, along with a gymnasium, completed the brief.


The local planning authority has strict parameters regarding the permissible styles of architecture in this environment, as well as the building’s height and visibility from key views in the wider landscape.

The extensive rural site housed an existing property which first had to be demolished to make way for the new house.

This project had few limitations other than the need to blend in with the countryside, which can be difficult when designing a property of this size and scale. Because of the unspoilt nature of the surrounding landscape and its concomitant planning restrictions, we took particular care with height considerations, ensuring that the roof and eaves did not obstruct the views of the horizon, and used local materials such as stone and slate.

What we did

This design was produced in response to the client's desire to make the most of the changing skies and far-reaching views of its rural Derbyshire location.

An exciting driver of this project was the orientation of the property. We designed the house to be South-facing so as to take advantage of the sun throughout the day, and the layout was governed by the positioning of the sun and each room's importance to the couple's daily processes and movements.

We arranged the internal spaces around the sun’s movement, creating a breakfast balcony which would be hit by the morning sun on the east side, and sleeping quarters incorporating a large roll top bath on the West side, to take advantage of the beautiful sunsets at the end of the day.

Our client was keen to create bespoke spaces, such as a dining room seating 40 people and a cinema room. The sleeping area also had specific requirements: an en-suite rainwater shower, extensive shoe and handbag storage, and separate access to the external spaces.

Our clients wanted the house to be a place of peace and sequestration. However, socialising and entertaining were also on the clients’ agenda, and guests would be staying for several weeks at a time. It was therefore important for users of the home to be able to move and live independently of each other, so we created food preparation and relaxation zones in each of the five guest suites.

The rear south-facing upper floor houses the client’s sleeping quarters but also provides significant space for food preparation, eating, bathing, and resting. Having the glazing set back ensures limited glare from the sun and creates spacious balconies for elevated views over the stunning surrounding landscape.

The lower floor provides accommodation reflecting the client's favourite pastimes. We created bespoke spaces dedicated to swimming, exercising, cooking and entertaining, positioning each area within the house to engage with the changing light and views around the property.

The first time the client saw the proposed building was through virtual reality technology. No drawings were produced as part of the initial presentation, which allowed the clients to visualise and explore their future home in absolute clarity. 

Working Sustainably

Whilst the budget for the project was significant, we had to be mindful not to over-elaborate the functional zones of the building, aiming instead for efficiency in design. We were able to be more expressive in our design of areas such as the indoor pool with frameless corner glass, the grand entrance hall with twin stairs leading to the upper suites, and the stunning outdoor living spaces. 

The intricacy of the design and the subtle yet striking elements of the build have a huge impact on the way the property works. Practicality and sustainability are always paramount, therefore the property features ground source heat pumps, solar panels and enhanced cavity wall sizes for added thermal insulation.

The result is a supremely comfortable and practical statement home that works with the changing light throughout the day and blends in with the natural beauty of its surroundings.

See more of our Newton House project

1 February 2022

Designer of the Year at The Architecture Community Awards

We are delighted to have won ‘Designer of the Year’ with the Architecture Community for our Newton House project. These global architecture awards celebrate the year’s best architectural design and we are extremely proud to have been recognised for this award.

Our Newton House project is a contemporary new dwelling in Derbyshire, set in a rural location surrounded by beautiful countryside. We designed a high-end luxury home for our clients; which included multiple entertaining and socialising spaces, a contemporary swimming pool and five luxury guest suites for friends and family.

See more of our Newton House project

10 October 2021

Best Residential & Small Commercial Designer – East Midlands

We are thrilled to have been selected as a regional winner in the LABC Building Excellence Awards in the category ‘Best Residential & Small Commercial Designer’.

The LABC (Local Authority Building Control) Awards are the largest building awards in the building control sector and recognise achievement and contributions in the construction industry. 

We received this award for our ‘Feel Good project’ in Nottingham; a property on the edge of a nature reserve and in an area of outstanding beauty.

In collaboration with the client, we designed a modern extension with floor to ceiling glazing alongside a sequence of terraces and roof gardens so that the homeowners could pass fluidly between the exterior and interior spaces and enjoy its remarkable setting throughout the day. 

We are also delighted to be a shortlisted finalist for the national LABC People & Place Awards 2021. 

See more of the ‘Feel Good’ project 

24 September 2021

We’re featured in Grand Designs Magazine this month!

We are delighted that one of our architectural projects is featured in the award-winning publication ‘Grand Designs’ this month. Grand Designs magazine supports the Bafta winning programme broadcast on Channel 4, presented by Kevin McCloud. 

Our clients, Emma and Nye, had a 1920s family home that they wanted to modernise and extend. Using virtual reality we were able to show them our ideas on expanding their home and collaborate in real time on how the new space would work for them as a family. 

The build transformed their home and family life, and Emma and Nye were thrilled with the results, “We’re so incredibly happy with how this project has turned out, it’s probably better than we had ever imagined and it isn’t just about the extra space, it’s about how we use the space as a family. We all have our individual areas that are our go-to and we talk about it quite often - what it’s brought to our quality of life as a family, and it really felt like home from the moment that it was finished”.

We are pleased that Grand Designs magazine chose to showcase this project and thanks go to Karen Wilson and Katie Lee from Beautiful Homes in the North who wrote and photographed the project for the magazine.

If you would like to discuss your architectural project with us, please get in touch at kate@designhausarchitecture.co.uk

See more of Emma and Nye's project >>

3 July 2021

How do you build a Paragraph 79 house?

If you’ve considered self building a house in the countryside, you might be put off by the strict planning permission requirements that can prevent your dream from becoming a reality.

However, a clause known as Paragraph 79 might be the answer to getting permission granted even on a heritage site. Read on to find out more.

What is Paragraph 79?

Paragraph 79 is an exemption clause in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Also known as the country house exemption clause, Paragraph 79 allows certain exceptional designs to be approved where their location would normally cause planning permission to be denied. It is often a factor when applying to build isolated houses on green belts or within Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where the construction of buildings is often incongruous with the surroundings.

The reason for this exemption is to allow for continual innovation and development within architecture. In particular, it helps to promote finding newer and better ways to make homes that are sustainable and environmentally friendly.

What criteria must a design meet?

In order to be approved, a proposal must meet some stringent criteria. These include specifications that the design must:

  • be of exceptional quality

  • be truly outstanding or innovative, reflecting the highest standards in architecture

  • help to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas

  • significantly enhance its immediate setting

  • be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area

You can’t expect to meet these criteria without thinking outside the box. As such, pursuing a Paragraph 79 house isn’t for the easily intimidated. It’s also important to note that you might not be able to build the home of your dreams exactly as you imagined it; you’ll need to be open minded and ready to roll with the punches.

How do I apply for Paragraph 79 exemption?

Getting approval isn’t an easy process, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be granted an exemption. In fact, it’s actually extremely rare, with only about 6 granted per year.

Even using a previously approved project as inspiration isn’t a fool-proof tactic, as one of the stipulations is outstanding innovation. Copying an existing design will therefore make it much less likely to be accepted.

To get an exemption, you’ll need to work alongside a team of specialists with a proven track record for architectural innovation and sympathetic design. Ideally, you want someone on your side who had faced the Paragraph 79 gauntlet before.

Paragraph 79 architects

With experience applying for Paragraph 79 exemption and creating unique architectural designs that both complement and improve their surroundings, Design Haus’s lead architect James Brindley is the perfect choice to head up your country house design.

Get in touch to discuss your project and to pick James’ brain.

25 June 2021

Minimalist architecture: When less is more

Minimalism is much more than just an art movement; it’s an entire design philosophy, and one that works perfectly when it comes to architecture.

Minimalist architecture doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, it’s often quite beautiful, with sleek lines, open spaces and lots of light. It’s a great place to draw inspiration from if you’re looking to create a space that’s both practical and aesthetically pleasing.

Here’s why less is more when it comes to minimalist architecture.

Form as function

Minimalist design embraces making the most out of small spaces, or minimising interruptions to the sleek, simple form by integrating functional elements into the structure itself.

This means that a minimalist building won’t have much in the way of decorative architecture, as this only serves the purpose of looking pretty. Instead, you’ll find carefully hidden pipes, underfloor heating and practical design. There’s no clutter and no waste; just efficient spaces designed to work well.

Subtle beauty

With sleek, continuous lines and a focus on simplicity, minimalist buildings feel open, uncluttered and calm.

This style of architecture embraces simple colour palettes, often comprising grey, white and neutral tones. This offers a clean, modern effect that stands alone in its understatement, while also allowing for a pop of colour or a statement piece without overpowering the décor if desired.

Simple materials

A key part of minimalism is paring everything down to the essentials. One way in which this is achieved in architectural design is by using a limited selection of materials.

Concrete, stone and pale-coloured wood are just some of the elements that you can expect to find in minimalist design, and you’ll usually find a lot of them. Sticking to a handful of materials makes the building as a whole feel like a unified space, while also keeping costs down.

Open spaces

Minimalist architecture places a lot of importance on fluid, open spaces. This gives the building room to breathe and creates an atmosphere that is both chic and subdued.

Making the most of natural daylight allows the space to feel bright and inviting without relying on artificial lighting. Floor-to-ceiling windows, mezzanines and open-plan living spaces bring in more light and help to make small buildings feel more spacious.

Seamless transitions

Uniformity of the various spaces within a building is one of the hallmarks of minimalist architectural design.

This means that moving from one room to another is a seamless and fluid experience, bringing a sense of consistency and order. Instead of having several small rooms boxed up with four walls and a door, each creating their own zone or theme, every space in a minimalist building contributes to the overall atmosphere.

Intelligent, beautiful architectural design

Working with Design Haus means that you’ll benefit from years of experience in both architectural and interior design. The flow, transition and usability of spaces is key to the Design Haus philosophy, creating spaces that look great while being practical in the long term.

To discuss your project, get in touch with Architect and Director James Brindley.


Design Haus Architecture
2A Fleeman Grove
West Bridgford




© Design Haus Architecture Limited. All Rights Reserved. Reg No: 11812019 - Reg Office: 2a Fleeman Grove, West Bridgford, Nottingham NG2 5BJ - VAT Reg No: 367902175 | Privacy Notice