Their dream home down to a tee
- Credit: Su Anderson
Mike and Linda Trower have rebuilt a family home as a stylish modern dwelling overlooking an Ipswich golf course. Words: David Vincent Photos: Su Anderson
When Mike and Linda Trower were looking to build their ‘forever home’ they knew the perfect location – where Mike had lived as a schoolboy in Bucklesham Road, Ipswich.
The original bungalow, where he spent his childhood, backed on to Ipswich Golf Club at Purdis Heath, with superb views across the nine-hole practice course towards the tenth and ninth greens.
“It’s such a lovely spot – so beautiful and quiet. Just occasionally you hear someone shout ‘fore!’” said Mike. “I lived here from the age of 11 to 21 and I remember my dad used to spend hours at the bottom of the garden. I’ve been a member of the club for 50 years – now I can play before breakfast and going to work.”
The Trowers’ light and bright new home is contemporary design at its best – glass, steel and clean lines, with lots of windows and bifold doors opening on to a terrace. The heart of the home is the kitchen/dining/family room, which has a distinctly Scandinavian feel while other design ideas come from modern homes seen by Mike and Linda on holidays to Austria.
One green wall provides a splash of vivid colour and a central courtyard, which can be viewed from all the other rooms, provides a light well.
“I love the light and brightness of the house,” said Linda. “We had the Christmas tree in here for our first Christmas, so you could see it from anywhere.”
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With three children and seven grandchildren, Mike and Linda have created a home for welcoming family and friends.
“Christmas was wonderful with the family here. We had 21 for dinner and 10 again on New Year’s Eve,” said Linda.
“It was an absolute delight,” added Mike. “This is an ideal house for parties.”
I was also there for a summer garden party which spilled out into the landscaped garden and the summer house. There was croquet and quoits and plenty of good company.
The house occupies the site of Oak Ridge, the bungalow in which Mike’s mother lived independently until she died aged 99 years.
“We had her funeral on her 100th birthday,” said Mike. The standard 1950s home had become rather tired over the years, so it was demolished to make way for an individually designed, highly efficient home that makes the most of the site.
The design began with a five-bedroom home, said Mike, and while the dimensions of the eventual home are similar to the initial blueprint, the first floor bedroom now has a dressing room and en suite bathroom. On the ground floor the study can also be converted to a bedroom if needed.
Sensibly, Mike and Linda have thought ahead to a time when they may be less mobile and fit than they are today. Mike underwent treatment for cancer while the house was being built, a significant shock which brought their plans into focus. He’s clear of the illness now, but the with bedrooms on two floors there is space for family or carers to stay later in life if necessary.
“It has worked out so superbly we wouldn’t do anything different,” said Mike. “It think we’ve got it pretty good really.
“Suffolk has some lovely classic and historic homes, but some very good contemporary homes too.”
Mike and and Linda had a five-step plan, which began with a visit to architects Patrick Allen.
They wanted a home that was level on a sloping site, with wide doorways and a kitchen with easy access. As a result there are lots of tiles and wipe-clean surfaces, a walk-in pantry and no wall cupboards. Even the kettle has been replaced by an instant hot water tap for making tea.
Yet there is no compromise on style with features such as the Gazco – a gas log fire in the family room – a stunning Italian chandelier in the vaulted entrance hall and hand-cut dark Spanish slates on the roof. The bathrooms are top of the range wet-rooms.
On the practical side the house has underfloor and radiator heating, and solar panels on the roof.
“This is a modern family home – and an individual one,” said Mike. “It was quite a challenging thing to do, to knock down the family home I had lived in. But we’ve got the home we wanted for many years.”