Pilkington Activ™ transforming The White Lodge

01 December 2010


Type of Property:       

Traditional early 20th century country house


Milford, Staffordshire


18 months [7months orangery]

Cost of project:                     

approx. £800,000 (orangery £70,000]

The Problem:

Martin Shaw and Karen Eaton bought their 20th century country house in 2007 as the perfect home to enjoy their blossoming family life.

Purchased from the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire, the house was steeped in history, and was once previously used as a watch point by French president Charles de Gaulle during the Second World War to observe troop manoeuvres across the Cannock chase. Although more recently neglected, the property’s enviable 4 acres of land and rich heritage were enough to convince the couple that a major restoration project could turn this unique property into their dream home - one which would see the property evolve from shabby to chic in just 18 months.

The White Lodge was the first home that Martin and Karen would share, so it was important that it reflected them by catering for their love of entertaining as well as providing the warm and cosy feel of a family home. 

The existing property, although boasting an impressive 20 rooms still felt tired and underachieving of its true potential. The back of the property had vast amounts of unused space which wasn’t being utilised giving an awkward shape to this potentially beautiful home.

Having access to a 4 acre back garden was a dream come true for the couple but the unpredictable British weather meant that they would not be able to make the most of it all year round in its current format.

The Brief:

·         To provide a feature which would complement the original building and add value to the house.

·         To create a room which allowed space for regular entertaining

·         To provide views of the beautiful garden all year round

·         To bring the outside in.


The Orangery:

The solution to the problem was to embark on a challenging renovation which needed to give the house a more contemporary feel to fit better with the couples lifestyle whilst keeping its unique historical aspect.  One of the first areas Martin and Karen chose to look at was the stunning garden, deciding to build an orangery to ensure this feature would not be a seasonal one.

Designed to fit into the disjointed area at the back of the property, the orangery blended into White Lodge’s structure to create a continual flow between the adjacent walls.

Drafting in Charles Christainson, accomplished conservatory and orangery creators and installers, the skilled craftsmen breathed light into the old property by constructing a 7 x 4.5m orangery which allowed the outside garden to be truly enjoyed all year round.

As the orangery had just one glass wall, it was essential that as much light as possible would be able to flood into the room. An additional request was that the room would need to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the year.

The Charles Christianson team choose to install Pilkington Activ Blue™ in the roof of the orangery, which provided aesthetic appeal and had the benefit of dual action self cleaning and solar control performance.

Pilkington Activ™ Blue has a blue tint effect to the glass, perfectly suited for use in conservatories and glass extensions. It has a dual action coating that firstly uses UV rays to break down organic dirt (for example, fingerprints, bird droppings, tree resin), and secondly encourages rainwater to flow down the glass in an even ‘sheeting’ effect washing away any loosened dirt.  This ‘sheeting’ action helps prevent water from forming droplets and drying in streaks and smears following a rain shower. It also means that there is a clear view through the window even after the heaviest downpour.


The solar control technology of Pilkington Activ™ Blue combined with good ventilation helps to create a cooler environment, by reducing the amount of heat let into a room, as the heat is reflected back outside. Pilkington Activ™ Blue is so effective it can prevent around 60% of solar heat from entering into an orangery, making it a more comfortable environment to enjoy.  Combined with an inner pane of low emissivity glass, the orangery can be used all year round, and forms an integral part of the house.


The Home:

  The unusual contrast of this property meant that whilst the external area was modernised, care was taken to ensure that the property didn’t lose its original features and details to retain its unique sense of character.

For example, the cast iron bath, which French Prime minister Charles De Gaulle had installed specially to cater for his large 6ft 6” frame, has been restored to its former glory and now acts as a historical feature in the home’s upstairs bathroom.

Oak panelling in the main rooms, and in particular the hallway, has also been lovingly restored to its original form, whilst features such as the homes port hole windows have been revitalised and introduced into the orangery to impose a sense of character throughout the build.

In respect of the main house, some structural alterations were undertaken to create a floor plan which better suited contemporary living, with a focus on extending and updating the garage annexe. Two new kitchens were also installed to give the property a real face lift, with one on the upper ground level and a second on the next floor.


The improvements to The White Lodge have given the house a new lease of life both internally and externally. The orangery not only allowed additional space to be added to the property for the family to enjoy, but also maximised the stunning view of the vast back garden.

The interior restoration allowed The White Lodge to be brought back to life. Using neutral colours and well-considered soft furnishings the property has been modernised. However, its original features still remain thanks to some careful restoration

Karen says: “We are so proud with the way that The White Lodge has turned out. We fell in love with the property as soon as we saw it and always knew that it had massive potential, were just so glad that we’ve seen that potential realised.

“The orangery at the back makes a huge difference in the appearance of the house. Thanks to Pilkington Activ™ glass and its solar control benefit, we use it  all year round  and because of this it has become very much a focal point of the property, Plus it needs very little cleaning thanks to the self-cleaning properties which means we spend more time enjoying it, rather than maintaining it.”