Maddi Sharkey is a comedy writer, producer, director, stand-up artist and the brains behind the sell-out show ‘This Show Does Not Contain Nuts’, not to mention a busy mother of three. Somewhere in her busy world, Maddi found time to share her Barr Build story with us.
Maddi, before asking about the house could you give us a potted version of what brought you here?
I went straight from producing ‘This Show Does Not Contain Nuts’ into the house search and build. We moved this way because we needed a mid-point between our work and the children’s schools. Also we wanted to find somewhere with land but still close to a lively town centre. Not an easy set of requirements to solve.
What attracted you to The Ridings?
I love quintessential English properties but I don’t always like how they function. When I saw The Ridings from the roadside I thought "Oh chocolate box, how cute, that’s so me” Inside it was more – “well this is nice, but we can’t live in it – so what can we do to make it work for us?”
What were your initial thoughts for the remodel?
Essentially what I wanted to do was to create a really big modern space - which would really work for family living. I knew we could make it brilliant. I wanted it to be facing the amazing woodland outside and to do this we would have to turn the house around. It was a bit of a risk – because what we wanted to do was quite radical and we knew we would have to get it through planning.
What do you love most about The Ridings' new look?
I love the facing symmetry of the old house layered with the new L-shaped glazed section. When you step back and look at the house you do get this beautiful sense of balance and that from the front it has kept its perfect symmetrical chocolate box façade.
Now, when you walk in through the door, you think you’re going to get one thing but you actually get something completely different. Anyone who comes to the house for the first time says ‘WOW, I did not expect that!’ I love that there is that element of surprise; that it is out of the ordinary.
Why did you choose Barr Build?
Most importantly we needed someone who was going to really understand the concept and our vision. When the Barr Build team came round to tender they had this young thought process, this modern initiative and we felt they totally got what we wanted. To be honest, it was a no-brainer, we chose them pretty much before they’d come back from tender because we knew they understood what we were looking for.
The team seemed really engaged with the project and I think that was really key because as a client we knew they would be fully focused even if there were bigger projects going on elsewhere. As a client, that gave me the peace of mind that, even though we started with a smallish cottage we were going to end with a big beautiful home.
How did the Barr Build team help you to make the house what you wanted it to be?
During the actual build, it was really important to me that I had a massive input on everything. After the architectural design stage, I wanted to take the reins and create something that was really personal to us. I just kept throwing ideas at the Barr Build team and they kept coming back to me with how they could make it work.
There are a lot of things in the house which I sourced by myself, things that are really important to us. We have a really big place in our hearts for Norfolk. There is a little shop next to the holiday home we have rented for the last fifteen years, which is where I found our flooring. There is so much sentiment that I wanted to go into it. The Barr Build team were really great at just working directly with the suppliers that I had chosen. I knew I wanted this polished concrete flooring throughout the whole house and they were just on it, I didn’t have to really think about it.
“Barr Build are really current, really on the pulse and they understand what the client is looking to achieve, and that in itself is priceless.”
What was it that made the build run so smoothly?
Definitely communication. The big thing I would say was working with our Barr Build Construction Manager, Richard, he was unbelievable. Really attentive, he made sure that everything got done on time. Since the build finished, if there is a problem with anything he comes back to sort it. Even his email communication during and after the build was really efficient, the site was always impeccable. The team didn’t let us down at all and that was a really big thing.
You had a very clear vision for The Ridings, do you feel that you have achieved that?
It has turned out perfectly in my eyes. It’s exactly what we wanted. We have turned the house around to face our woods and paddock. We now have this beautiful, modern, L-shape of glass that reflects the natural world beyond. There is so much green. Even if you stand looking at the house you just see a beautiful clear reflection of woodland and pastures and that is exactly what we were trying to achieve from all of this glass. inside the building, we have this amazing, zoned space, which we can utilise in so many different ways.
Can you envisage working with the Barr Build again in the future?
We already are – the team are converting our garage at the moment! This wasn’t the first build we’ve done but it was definitely the easiest. The team made every decision fairly simple and the process of working with them was actually enjoyable - which is a rare thing in a build project!