Local Property: Missy’s House in the Woods
22nd August 2022
If you go down to the (Northamptonshire) woods today… you may discover a unique home designed to instil its guests with a sense of calm and to inspire creativity. Rebecca Downey discusses the project with the Conant family and the creative team involved
Missy’s House, situated near the village of Harringworth, exudes luxury while providing discreet accessibility for all. It was created by local architect William McCormack of Harris McCormack, owner Rupert Conant and the team at Bulwick Estate, and it features interior design by Two by Two Creators. Built on the site of a former wood mill, it has retained original features and materials, and seamlessly blends with the new conversion. The vast, light-filled living space likewise merges with the exterior via bi-folding floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows, which frame the stunning views beyond. Sleeping up to 10 people, the house provides multiple areas for communal activity or individual respite, and notably houses a studio space dedicated to artistic enterprise. Exquisite paper cutwork decorations, garlands, hand-crafted soft furnishings, photographs, prints and memorabilia have created an extraordinary, beautiful interior, and reflect the Conant family’s creativity.
Could you describe the concept and the kind of guests you hope to attract?
Rupert Conant: Missy’s House is inspired by Melissa (Missy), my half-sister, who has learning difficulties. The initial concept was to ensure she had somewhere for holidays with friends whilst being close to the family, especially our mother, Davina. The project soon became an exciting challenge: to create somewhere interesting and luxurious for everyone. The house has no steps and is built to Part M regulations, with wider doors, large wet rooms, and a kitchen where facilities are accessible to all. The tranquillity of the location works for those wanting to escape the stresses of modern life and those living with additional needs. The building is perfect for workshops – the large art room has four working tables, and we plan to organise sessions with local creatives, such as artists, chefs or florists.
How was the build process? It must have been a difficult time during the pandemic? Was it important to keep some of the original features?
The build went well, despite the lockdowns. We were able to keep contractors apart by working in separate areas, and, for most of the lockdown periods, there were no windows, so there was plenty of fresh air. I wanted to retain the utilitarian feel of the wood mill and, in particular, keep the rusty corrugated roof and black timber walls. The weathered steel roof and burnt larch cladding echo the old wood mill and blend sympathetically with the woodland. We also kept the old gearing mechanism for opening large barn doors as a decorative feature.
Could you tell me about Two by Two Creators and their involvement?
Kathy Miller: We are a team of experienced artists and creative innovators from various disciplines, including architecture, design and brand creation, dedicated to passing on and exchanging our knowledge and experience. Our objective for this project was to create a ‘wholeness’ for the space – expressing what Missy’s House stands for, honouring the building and its surroundings – to make an attractive and harmonious home.
The art is designed to inspire and invite conversation. We created all the art, textiles, paper cutting and photographic installations – except for prints by local artist Sam Marshall, feather watercolour by Davina Conant and landscape photographs by Rupert Conant. The handmade cushions came from eclectic and personal fabric collections; lampshades from local maps, old books and printers’ proofs; and blankets and textiles were sourced as seconds, then handstitched and embellished.
It was essential that the art echoed the surroundings or could tell a story about the provenance of the house, Missy’s family and her love of animals and painting. The scheme we have created will evolve; we hope that the art will inspire guests to have a go – to not be too precious and recognise the creativity within us all.
It feels like a very personal project in terms of the aesthetic and memorabilia. What does Missy think of the house?
Rupert Conant: It is a labour of love, and all of the family were involved in some way, whether staying over to ensure everything worked, or creating art for the walls. The aim was to create a home from home, so guests feel welcomed and understand what Missy’s House stands for. Missy was thrilled by the house. When she visited as Two by Two were creating their magic, she excitedly chose her room and sought out all the animals to show her friends – rabbits are her favourite! She has already stayed with friends. One of them said: ‘I love it so much I think I might cry.’ They had a great time and are looking forward to coming back in the autumn.
Find out more about Two by Two Creators at twobytwocreators.com
Book Missy’s House through Rural Retreats: www.ruralretreats.co.uk
Find out more at www.missyshouse.co.uk