Unique Studio Design, Meon Valley, Hampshire
A series of upgrades to unique studio on Hampshire’s River Meon… and a result that makes it look like nothing’s been touched.
This beautiful self-contained studio was originally built on the remains of a 17th Century paper mill. Spanning the width of the River Meon in an idyllic spot in Hampshire, the studio opens on to the river and enjoys a unique and special view of the countryside and the natural habitat surrounding it.
The property was built in the 1980s in a Japanese-influenced style. The design had been informed by the original owner’s travels and life in Japan, and included panels, ceramics and other details shipped back to the UK for the interior. It was an enchanting hideaway, although it had become a little tired in places.
The client – the daughter of the original owner – briefed us to update the kitchen and bathing facilities in order to modernise them and make them more practical. It was also crucial that the new works were to respect the style of the original and, where possible, improve on some of the now-dated fittings that had been used in the Eighties.
We re-worked the layout of the existing shower room and kitchenette to provide a new bathing space. The Japanese-style tub, or ofuro, is clad in new timber to match all of the existing cladding in the space. It was positioned so that the bather can enjoy the extraordinary view of the river flowing under and away from them. From the sanctuary of the deep-soaking tub, the bather can enjoy the beauty and the wildlife of Hampshire’s Meon Valley, while also remaining private behind the Japanese screen. To complement the craft and rustic nature of the studio we designed a new bath mixer from standard copper plumbing parts for the filling the tub. Its simplicity and lack of decoration returns us to the action of filling the tub, the flow of the water, our movements and our senses.
A new kitchenette area is accessed through the screens. A compact and highly-efficient space, again clad in matching timber and with custom cabinetry made from character timbers. Reclaimed antique Delft tiles further reflect the client’s travels and add to the eclectic nature of the interior, and another simple copper mixer is fitted over the sink. Task lighting is discreetly recessed into the undersides of the chunky waney-edged timber shelves.
In the cloakroom’ the sound of the river running beneath is quite magical. Evoking the passages of sensory exploration from Junichiro Tanizaki’s “In Praise of Shadows”, the space has a magical connection with its location and the river flowing beneath it. One of the original water pumps from the mill is in here too, and all that was needed was a simple and elegant new basin with a vanity light to update this space.
Overall, the result is in keeping with the original design of the space. In fact, the updates perhaps make it more in keeping with the intention of the original design. Our aim was always to have the lightest touch in everything we designed here, and to avoid the feeling of new work having been done. In a way it looks like nothing has been touched, and as such both the client and ourselves are delighted with the result of the project.