When building your own home it’s easy to be overcome with ideas and create a property packed with clashing aesthetics. But these properties prove that sometimes less really is more.
The houses have all been shortlisted in the minimalist category of the 2017 RIBA House of the Year Award, the country’s most prestigious award for a new house or extension.
They are the last crop of contenders to be explored by Kevin McCloud on Channel 4’s Grand Designs, before the overall winner of the competition is revealed.
On tonight’s episode, McCloud wanders the tiny halls of a house without a single outward facing window, and takes a look inside a stunning geometric brick block that sits on a north London street lined with traditional Edwardian houses.
Here, FEMAIL takes a look inside the properties that are pushing the boundaries of minimalist design…
The striking design of Highgate House caught the eye of RIBA judges for its use of red brick and minimalist structure and sleek appearance
Inside is a sleek wood and brick finish. The first floor gallery, pictured, leads to five large bedrooms and three bathrooms
Presenter Kevin McCloud gushed over this ‘momentous’ north London property which he said had reinvented the suburban house.
Judges praised the designers for creating an exterior entirely of brick and keeping features like drain pipes and window frames out of sight.
Kevin, who compared the building to an ‘Assyrian temple’, entered the home to find it was minimalist and pared back – using warm reddish brick and dark smoked oak as the main palette.
The double height hall leads to a luxurious swimming pool, along with a kitchen and family room and a separate dining room.
The first floor gallery features floor to ceiling wood panelling and leads to five generous bedrooms and three bathrooms.
Kevin was surprised by the lack of a ‘family feel’, but the owners Paul and Susanna reveal hidden cupboards that contain a television, family photos and plenty of recipe books. ‘It’s like Narnia isn’t it,’ Susanna said.
The block-shaped house’s only exterior features are perforated brick walls, enormous windows and a gravel drive
The double height hall is at the centre of the property, leading off it are a swimming pool and a kitchen and dining room
‘Whole House’ is built on a 70sqm scrap of land with neighbours tightly packed on every side, meaning there could be no outward-facing windows.
The architect Nick Hayhurst solved the problem of getting light into a house with no windows by building a courtyard in the centre of the property and adding skylights in each corner of the house.
RIBA were impressed with its perfectly executed detailing and its adherence to the ‘minimalist mantra of less is more’. There are no skirting boards in view and cupboards are hidden in the walls.
Whole House has no outward facing windows and with just one access point via gate in the side of the wall it proved difficult to build
The only way to bring light in to the small 70sqm property was to create a central courtyard with glass windows that make the house seem more spacious
The house, which developer Ben intends to rent out rather than live in himself, was extremely difficult to build as there was only one small access point.
They had to dig out 100 skips of soil from the ground to create the underground floor which houses an extra bedroom and bathroom and is lit by glass insets from the courtyard floor.
On the first floor the living room and kitchen, bathroom, bedroom all benefit from extra lighting via sky lights.
The courtyard is the only point of light for most of the house which is kept sleek and minimal in design. The stairs (seen left and right) lead down to the second floor, which boasts another bedroom
Hidden House was created from a former caretaker’s house tucked away in the grounds of a converted Victorian school in the centre of London.
The single storey home is flooded with light thanks to cleverly placed floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights.
It is just 72sqm but the owners Saleem and Iran, who moved to the city from Istanbul, have managed to squeeze in two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a large living, kitchen, and dining room.
Hidden House, centre, was formerly a caretaker’s home located on the grounds of a converted Victorian school
The RIBA judges were impressed with the amount of light that flooded in to the property despite its small size and the enormous buildings that overlooked it
The unique property was praised for the design by RIBA judges for its expert craftsmanship and they remarked that the ‘quality of the polished concrete was some of the best they’d ever seen’.
The ‘background building’ in a crowded corner of London shows off a truly minimal style, as the interior is covered in oak panelling and all necessities of life are carefully hidden away.
And what is quite striking is the ‘commitment and coordination’ the architects Phil Coffey and Ella Wright have achieved by matching the lines in the concrete floor along to the wooden panelling and to the ceiling.
‘If [a] Swiss Army pen knife built a home it would be this,’ comments Kevin McCloud.
The lines of the polished concrete floor match perfectly to the wall panels which flows up to the ceiling skylights
The single-storey Peacock House on the Suffolk coast is made up of three separate buildings that are centred around a beautiful hidden courtyard and pond.
The owners of the property, Professor of Medicine Andrew Peacock and artist wife Gila, were inspired by her Iranian heritage and based the design on traditional Iranian homes, which have a water basin at their centre.
But rather than follow the symmetry that is typical of Persian design, the couple choose to keep the water feature off-centre to make room for a table and chairs outdoors.
The house is made up of three separate buildings which are centred around a hidden courtyard, inspired by traditional Iranian houses
The interior decor is kept clean and all white with wooden flooring running throughout with a collection of mismatched furniture dotted about
The largest of the buildings contains an open plan kitchen, living and dining room, as well as a master bedroom, second bedroom and secret snug.
Two other buildings are an artist’s studio and a garage and study – but both can double up as bedrooms should the couple need.
The architect behind the property was their daughter’s new boyfriend, with friends and family warning it was ‘the worst idea they had ever had’.
But they proved everyone wrong with the end result which they say has worked out to be a dream: ‘It hasn’t changed our life but it has enriched our life,’ the couple said.
Artist owner Gila has her own studio in one of the buildings and her artwork adorns the walls of their home
The exterior of the walls is clad in larch timber – individually burnt which makes it fireproof. The locally sourced flint makes up the rest of the exterior walls
Grand Designs: House of the Year airs tonight at 9pm on Channel 4 when the winner of the RIBA competition will be announced