Explore this characterful two-bedroom oak-framed new-build in the New Forest

This couple never expected to 
self-build their home, but this oak-framed house perfectly suits their new, down-sized lifestyle
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  • Building their own home was never on this couple’s bucket list. But, like many of life’s big decisions, it seemed the obvious choice in retrospect. They were driven by the desire to remain in the idyllic New Forest village where they had lived for nearly 20 years.

    ‘We had a lovely period house, but it was expensive to run,’ says the owner. ‘Our children were leaving home, so we decided to move somewhere smaller. As we love the village, we didn’t want to go too far.’

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    Few properties come up for sale in the area, so when a bungalow on a large plot of land went on the market, the couple hurried to view it. ‘It was the right location, but the wrong house – an ugly bungalow in a dark corner. We bought it with a plan to replace it with a house in a more central position,’ the owner says.

    The couple wanted a characterful property made 
with natural materials that would sit comfortably in its New Forest setting. ‘We found Oakwrights, a company that specialises in 
oak-framed buildings, and saw a photograph of its showhouse 
in Herefordshire – it was perfect, with lots of beams and a warm atmosphere,’ says the owner.

    ‘We were actually able to go and stay in the showhouse, and I loved it so much, I didn’t want to leave. 
We knew then that we wanted to build something similar.’

    Exterior

    Explore-this-characterful-two-bedroom-oak-framed-new-build-in-the-New-Forest-exterior

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    Architect John Williams, who works in conjunction with Oakwrights, designed the house and dealt with the local planning department. ‘We sold our house and were able to 
live in the bungalow while work on the oak-framed building 
took place,’ says the owner.

    ‘We were allowed to build a new property with the provision that we knocked down the old bungalow within three months of moving into the new house.’

    The work took 15 months in total, including building a basement beneath the house. The frame was cut off-site in Herefordshire, then erected over four days. ‘Putting up the oak frame was a quick process,’ says the owner.

    ‘Oakwrights also supplied the SIPs (structural insulated panels) that made up 
the walls and the roof. These took time to put in place but the advantage is that, because we have highly insulated fabric in 
the house, we need little heating and have much lower fuel 
bills.’

    Open-plan living area

    Explore-this-characterful-two-bedroom-oak-framed-new-build-in-the-New-Forest-dining

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    As the property isn’t large, the couple chose an 
open-plan design to make it feel more spacious. ‘We also wanted maximum light and to have views of the plot, so we planned plenty of windows and doors,’ says the owner.

    Explore-this-characterful-two-bedroom-oak-framed-new-build-in-the-New-Forest-living

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    For the decor, she chose wood and leather furniture to complement the mellow tones of the wooden beams and flooring. ‘We wanted the interior to look homely,’ she says. ‘We chose individual pieces of furniture and older, distressed pieces to create an eclectic look.’

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    ‘When we’re in the dining room with the doors open, it’s if we are in the garden,’ says the owner. ‘And when we open the sitting room door, we could be beneath a pergola. In the living room blue mid-century style sofas add a pop of colour and retro style

    Get the look
    Buy now: Shimla pendant lights, £150 each, Nkuku
    Buy now: Walls painted 
in Pointing, £46.50 for 2.5l, Farrow & Ball
    Buy now: Connection two seater sofa, £749, DFS

    Kitchen

    Explore-this-characterful-two-bedroom-oak-framed-new-build-in-the-New-Forest-kitchen

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    In the simple kitchen, white Shaker-style units keep the look light and 
airy and a smart range cooker, wooden knobs and wood worktops give the space that classic country look.

    Get the look
    Buy now: Stoves Richmond range cooker, £2,094, Ao.com
    Buy now: Walls painted in Mizzle, £46.50 for 2.5L, Farrow & Ball

    Bedroom

    Explore-this-characterful-two-bedroom-oak-framed-new-build-in-the-New-Forest-bedroom

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    Upstairs in the house’s two bedrooms, a neutral backdrop allows the beauty of the wooden beams and flooring to shine.

    Get the look
    Buy now: Recycled wool blanket, £20, National Trust
    Buy now: Hektar foor lamp, £45, Ikea
    Buy now: The Remington Leather lounge chair, £845, Perch & Parrow is similar

    Bathroom

    Explore-this-characterful-two-bedroom-oak-framed-new-build-in-the-New-Forest-bathroom

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    Tongue-and-groove panelling adds a classic rustic touch in the country-style bathroom.

    Related: Before and after: from drab, dated bathroom to tranquil space with plenty of personality

    Get the look
    Buy now: The Cambridge roll-top bath, £399.97, Soak.com is similar
    Buy now: Panelling painted in Mizzle, Farrow & Ball
    Buy now: For a similar stool, try the wooden stool, £125, Shimu

    It is five years since the couple moved into their home. ‘We’re absolutely thrilled with it and so glad we made the decision to build,’ says the owner. ‘We’re still part of the village we love, but our new home is just right for our new, downsized life.’

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