Renovating this dark 19th century cottage not only created a light and airy dream home, it won the owners an architecture award too.

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Met Therm Beech Cottage Through Window Good Homes

Image: Met Therm Windows Ltd

When former architect Derek Carley and his wife Margaret moved into the cottage, it was tired, dark and damp. They saw past this however and instead pictured the potential of this unusual property. With vision, endurance, hard work and determination – along with a trustworthy source of skilled suppliers on hand - the couple not only renovated the house in keeping with the Arts and Crafts tradition of the surrounding area, but they transformed it into an award-winning property.

Beech Cottage is nestled within the northern boundary of St Catherine’s Conservation Area near Guildford, with panoramic views over quaint local villages and the undulating landscape of the Surrey hills.

As idyllic as it sounds, the house – and its grounds - needed substantial work to realise its potential. “We knew that the house, which was a former gardener’s cottage, would make a unique home. However it was in desperate need of renovation, having been added to many times over the years,” explains Margaret. “In particular, it was very dark. So one of the driving forces of the renovation was to let the light permeate throughout the property.”

The two-storey house was originally constructed with stone and decorative brick walls; clay tiles on a timber A-framed roof; and timber floors internally. It was in the 1930s that the first round of alterations and extensions were made, with further extensions in the sixties and eighties. However these changes created a long and cellular property with poor circulation. “By 2010, the property was in a poor condition. It was suffering from draughts, poor levels of insulation, damp walls and floors, faulty and dangerous services along with deteriorating decoration,” says Margaret. 

Met Therm Beech Cottage Good Homes

Image: Met Therm Windows Ltd

Derek, who was an architect until the mid-90s and then became a project manager for large luxury hotels abroad, was able to put his extensive experience into practice with Beech Cottage. He not only designed the entire renovation of the property but project-managed it too. 

The aims of the renovation project were clear: to increase the living space by adding a third bedroom; to integrate the outside space; to allow light in wherever possible; and to achieve a sustainable, low-maintenance, energy-efficient property, carefully crafted with reference to the Arts and Crafts tradition of the surrounding area.

Replacing the original windows with narrow frames in the Arts and Crafts style was a must, but the Carleys knew that UPV double glazed windows would be too bulky and ruin the look of the 19th century house.

A former colleague recommended Met Therm Windows to Derek, and they had the solution. “Met Therm Windows provided handcrafted metal windows which meant low-maintenance, longevity and retaining the original style – just what we were looking for. The outcome is ‘like for like’ in terms of look but with the very latest technology,” explains Margaret.


Image: Met Therm Windows Ltd

The Carleys not only won when they chose to invest time and money in renovating Beech Cottage; Derek and Margaret entered the property into the Guildford Design Awards on the recommendation of their Conservation Officer and, to their delight, Beech Cottage was crowned winner of the Renovation Award. The building quality and attention to detail was noted in the judge’s comments. 

“Our 145-year old property has literally been given a new breath of life,” said Margaret. “We met all of our goals and the outcomes have exceeded our expectations. Winning the award is testament to the hard work that we put in to making Beech Cottage the stunning home that it is today.”


Met Therm Windows Ltd


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