Property Case Study: Lewes

03 December 2010
Type of Property:     15th century manor house
Location:                 Lewes, East Sussex
Timescale:              2 years (orangery 4-6 weeks)
Cost of project:        approx. £500,000 (orangery £15,000)

The Problem:

Manami and Colin Sloley bought their 15th century country house three years ago, to live in with their two sons. It had been neglected by the previous owner, but intrigued by the property’s rich history, the couple set about a major restoration and renovation of the house. With two boys in their late teens, Manami and Colin wanted to make the house into a family home, whilst also creating a haven for themselves for when their boys eventually fly the nest. It was also important for the couple to have a place to entertain their friends both on long summer evenings and cold winter nights.
The existing orangery was built in the 1970s, and felt dark and dated. The roof light was old and unattractive, and being inaccessible had a large build-up of dirt that was hard to clean and was blocking valuable natural light. Yet the orangery provided beautiful views of an extensive garden, which the Sloley's wanted to maximise and make use of all year round.

The Brief:

  • To provide a haven for the couple away from their children
  • Create a room for regular entertaining  
  • Provide views of the beautiful garden all year round


The Orangery:
The Sloley’s decided to install an updated roof light to breathe new life into the existing structure. They also installed new, wider doors to maximise the feeling of bringing the outside in, creating more of a seamless link between the garden and the orangery.
As the orangery only had glass on two sides, the Sloley’s needed to ensure that as much light as possible was allowed to flood the room. They chose to install Pilkington Activ™ Neutral in the roof, which combines dual-action self-cleaning properties with solar control performance, along with an inner pane of low emissivity glass for energy efficiency.
Pilkington Activ™ Neutral is designed specifically for use in conservatories and glass extensions. It has a dual action coating that uses UV rays to break down organic dirt (for example, fingerprints, bird droppings, tree resin), and then 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, and also means that there is a clear view through the window even after the heaviest downpour.
The solar control technology combined with good ventilation helps to prevent conservatories becoming unbearably hot in the summer. Pilkington Activ™ Neutral has a thin solar control coating, which reduces the amount of heat let into a room by reflecting the heat back outside. Pilkington Activ™ Neutral is so effective it can prevent around 60% of solar heat from entering into an orangery, making it a more comfortable environment to enjoy. 

The Home:
By the time the Sloley’s bought the house in 2005 it had become run down and needed some work, so the family lived in an outbuilding next door while the house was renovated. While taking care to restore the period features, they did change the structure of the house slightly, knocking through three rooms to create an open plan kitchen/dining room, and redesigning the three upstairs bathrooms. They also introduced a snug area at the front of the house for their teenage kids, and a more formal open living room for themselves.
Manami and Colin chose to decorate the house in a contemporary style, with beautiful Nisha Crossland wallpapers and neutral off whites, creams and light greens to compliment the original and restored Georgian panelling. They also furnished the house with antiques largely purchased at the local Lewes auction room, and even salvaged a bath from a nearby field for the master bathroom.

The Result

Manami and Colin’s improvements to the orangery have made it much brighter and more open, maximising the stunning views of the garden with ample space for the family. The Sloley’s were also careful to ensure that the period features in the room were preserved and enhanced by the decor. Part of the old monastery forms the back wall of the room, so the couple choose a mixture of antique furniture and contemporary designs in traditional wood colours to maintain the period charm.
“We are so pleased with the whole house. It’s been a labour of love and we’ve enjoyed every minute of the renovation and decoration!” says Manami. “We’re really proud of the results, particularly the areas we’ve created as havens for ourselves. We feel the house is now a reflection of our personalities, and love having our friends around to enjoy it with us!”
“The orangery has become a real focal point for entertaining, with its relaxed atmosphere and stunning views of the garden. Installing Pilkington Activ™ Neutral has meant that the hard to reach sky light has been kept dirt and streak-free, so the room is much more light and airy. And the solar control properties mean that the room is a lot warmer, so we can use it all year round! It’s so nice just sitting with a quiet cup of tea and the paper, and enjoying the garden views when it’s too cold to sit outside.”