A Mid-Century Dream Home in Nottinghamshire
We’ve seen some architectural gems in our time, but this one, in a tranquil spot in Nottinghamshire, really steals the show. It is the stuff of dreams – a mid-century dream home, one might say. Entrepreneur Simon Siegel, who runs design and interiors business Atomic, lives here with his wife Monica, and their two children – they are the ‘custodians’ of this David Shelley masterpiece and the pair ensures that the interior remains true to the architect’s intentions of 1970.
How, we ask, did Simon and Monica come to find their mid-century dream home? Simon explains, “We already knew of the house, but had never anticipated living here – it was way out of our means, and I resisted from looking at the details in the estate agents. Word went around that it had been sold, but then we noticed that it was back in the estate agent’s window”. It turned out that the buyers had pulled out on the day of exchange, and Simon tells me that he felt an enormous sense of relief on hearing this, so much so that he made an appointment to see the place. “Monica and I were knocked out by how amazing it was – it represented everything we were about. Then it was a case of ‘ How do we do this?’. We came up with a plan; fortunately in 2003 it was easier to secure the money, so we went for it!”
Mid-Century Dream Home: Very James Bond
Local architect David Shelley designed the house in 1970. The five-bedroom steel-framed home is built into a banked hillside; it contains open-plan living spaces consisting of ‘zones’ that step-up or step-down, which divide the rooms without the need for partition walls. Each one is its own stage set (it comes as no surprise to learn that the house is regularly used for filming). There is a stunning sunken lounge with wrap-around seating, a fireplace and a TV – complete with surrounding tracked curtains for additional cinematic privacy! The flue is cleverly concealed within a tall rosewood ‘column’, which transforms into a drinks cabinet on the other side. Very James Bond.
Mid-Century Dream Home: connecting with the landscape
There are numerous other neat design touches, a cube-shaped Zen garden for instance, built within the internal structure of the building and glazed on all four sides so that it’s only accessible from the roof. And the indoor swimming pool, housed within another glazed construction, adds to the wow-factor.
The house seamlessly connects with the landscape. The fully glazed living space enables you to see right through one side of the great ‘U’ into the other, and beyond. Simon observes, “There are fantastic vistas throughout the house, you often catch sight of a new angle or a different reflection. It’s very sculptural and this is what makes it different from some of the other great Modern houses around.”
Mid-Century Dream Home: Changes for the better
Simon and Monica have lived here for ten years now and I was interested to find out if they had made any changes to the original structure. “The things we’ve done have been mostly related to insulation rather than aesthetics, which has made a big difference to the energy bills!” The recent addition of electric blinds to the front windows has really enhanced the crisp geometry of the building. They slot neatly into recesses in the teak ceilings to create a sharper aesthetic than the bulky curtains they replaced.
With the house, the couple inherited a box of the architect’s original layouts, plans and drawings. Simon explains that he telephoned the architect soon after they moved in, “ The first thing he asked was ‘What colour is the outside? It should be painted black’ and I was able to tell him that we had in fact just reinstated the black woodwork. The previous owners had painted it red and it really didn’t work, as the framework should disappear into the building. We’ve taken it back to how it should be.”
Mid-Century Dream Home: Free Reign on Materials
One of the most beautiful elements of the building is its interior. The architect was clearly given free reign when it came to the materials and finishes. There are warm teak and rosewood panels on some of the walls, slatted teak on the ceiling and yet more teak on the floor, as well as a stunning pale terrazzo in places. And there are natural granite feature walls, which appear to run seamlessly from indoors to out.
Mid-Century Dream Home: Modern furnishings
For some, furnishing a place like this would be daunting, but Monica and Simon were more than up to the challenge. “Both Monica and I love sculptural mid-century furniture, especially from Italian designers like Gio Ponti and Ico Parisi. We don’t have many pieces, as they’re so hard to come by, but for us sculptural design is preferable to the more practical Scandinavian aesthetic.”
Mid-Century Dream Home: Gio Ponti in a Junk Shop
Simon shows me a table he stumbled upon in a junk shop in Italy 15 years ago. “I didn’t buy it because I was on holiday, but I was flicking through an old magazine when I got back and there it was, the same table. And it was by Gio Ponti! I managed to convince my brother-in-law, who lives in Italy, to travel a fair way to see if it was still there and luckily it was!”. Other favourite mid-century pieces are a Heal’s cabinet from 1951 with a beautiful scribed face, two 1950s tiled tables and their glass and ceramics.
Mid-Century Dream Home: contemporary lighting
With Simon’s business, Atomic, specialising in contemporary design, he’s worked in some contemporary pieces as well. A Cassina dining table and a beautiful modern sofa by Meridiani works perfectly in this space. “We also have a Bouroullec chair, which I absolutely love”, says Simon. Lighting a space like this is an art in itself and, while the original ceiling track lighting still exists, Simon and Monica have softened the architecture with contemporary lighting. There’s a Pedrera floor lamp by Gubi and Capellini lights by Flos project a radial pattern onto the rosewood paneling on the stairwell.
Mid-Century Dream Home: A Sense of Destiny
If you believe in fate, you might say that it was a fairly generous dose of the stuff that brought Simon and Monica to their mid-century dream home. Here is a couple who have long shared a passion for Modernism, and it seems only too right that such worthy aficionados of Mid Century Modern should end up living in what is possibly one of the most stunning homes in the country!
Visit Simon Siegel’s design store Atomic Interiors
Enjoy the read? Join our mailing list to receive a weekly email with links to our latest articles – simply type your email address into the purple box at the top right of this page!