It isn’t every day that you come across a property that has been converted from a 19th century greenhouse, but then this house in the Kent village of Hawkhurst is far from your everyday property. As I was looking through the listings with The Modern House, this image above caught my eye. This photo reminded of the Victorian greenhouses that I’ve long admired within the walled garden of Cambo Estate in Fife – greenhouses that had become so decrepit in time that they were replaced this year with Alitex greenhouses that look very, very like the originals.
But even when decrepit, the originals had such character, particularly when viewed against the old brickwork of the walled garden, and – stating the obvious really – the light once inside was just beautiful. So imagine having a greenhouse like this as part of your home.
This remarkable property is located in The Moor area of Hawkhurst and was designed by Peter Leonard. The building was formerly the principal greenhouse of the Lillesden Estate – a large estate that was owned by the banker Edward Lloyd in the mid-19th century – and while this building isn’t listed, there are a number of listed buildings nearby that form part of the old estate.
Leonard created a two bedroom house here and retained much of the original 19th century greenhouse in the process. There are two floors of accommodation in the main building, along with a separate studio/store room building that might offer scope to create additional living space.
The house is entered through a charming looking courtyard, and straight away the patina of the old bricks and the slate roof tiles suggests the character of this property. This is one of those houses where you’re sold from the exterior, but the interior is quite a revelation.
Once inside, you’ll find a bedroom and en-suite bathroom to the east, and a fantastic dining-kitchen to the west. And this, surely, is the first surprise, as while you might be expecting a more traditional or country-styled interior from the exterior of this property, instead the aesthetic is clean-lined and contemporary with an airy sense of volume and lovely natural light. The crisp and minimal kitchen includes underfloor heating below the large profile tiles, with Corian worktops on the sleek cabinets.
The living space is entirely glazed at one end, with French doors opening to the greenery beyond, and with a limed oak floor (which flows throughout, other than in the dining-kitchen) and white walls creating an understated backdrop to the modern furniture. Steps lead down to the second bedroom, again en-suite, where full-height glazed doors open to a sunken garden.
The south-facing side of the house is given over to the original greenhouse – an elegant wood, brick and glass structure that Leonard has had restored and fitted with industrial lighting and a reclaimed brick floor. This space has such a beautiful patina.
This does remind a little of the incredible period conservatory on this house in Edinburgh that I wrote about here a few weeks ago, but that was at first floor level, and this space has a more rustic and outdoors feel, as you might expect from a greenhouse. This is such a unique property – and imagine escaping to this space on a cold but sunny winter’s day and just soaking in this magical light.
This property is listed with The Modern House.
All photography from The Modern House.