Jon and Nik Daughtry are twins, so it’s no surprise they have many similarities. For example, they both work together in their Sheffield-based design studio DED and have matching cars and dogs.
However, sharing the same DNA doesn’t necessarily mean you share an identical vision for design. This became very clear when Jon and Nik decided to build family homes next to each other, using the same materials. Both houses are stunning, but very different.
The brothers purchased a former corn mill, now desolate save for the old mill pond. The houses were to be built next to one another and had to be built within the constraints of the plot, taking into account the pond and natural features. This lead to the houses being built on stilts, with parking space beneath, to take advantage of the views across the water.
The project gestated for quite some time while the brothers undertook a two-year remote renovation project in France to raise funding for this build, followed by a year of planning and costing before embarking on the 18-month build.
“It took longer than anticipated,” said Jon, “but it was worth it for the final results. The design is quite stripped back, with exposed concrete blocks and pipework, but we discovered the very thing we thought would bring us a saving would actually consume more time and money.”
“We had such a strong design at the start, so it was important to stick to this. We learned that because of things like the concrete blocks and pipes being exposed, the process for creating and building with them needed to be very exacting. Any variance would stand out and draw the eye.”
Still, the budget was kept down by buying and building together and sharing the savings that came from this.
“It was a lower budget than you’d normally see on Grand Designs, but Kevin McCloud liked the “buy one get one free” ethos, even if things didn’t work out quite like that.”
“Kevin called us Designer-Makers, because we’re so hands-on. We were instrumental in the design of the interiors, designed the light fittings for both houses and oversaw their manufacture. We’d also often be seen lugging the blocks around the site. It all made us feel more connected to the project.”
“In fact, our father built two family homes when we were kids. We really wanted to continue that. We’d both been into architecture from when we were very young and loved drawing and designing houses together when we were little.”
“When it came to designing the kitchen, we worked with Kerf Works. They were familiar with Valchromat coloured MDF, which we wanted to use, and provided a bespoke service. We were very impressed with how quickly they managed to move the project from concept to manufacture.”
“For the appliances, we chose Siemens products. I’ve had them for a long time in my previous house and they outlast anything we’ve ever had,” says Jon.
“The visual aspect fits right in with our design, but they’re also highly useable. Cooking and eating is at the centre of our family lives, so this makes it much more enjoyable.”
“We’ve built the kitchens to be at the heart of the homes. These are very open plan designs and any appliances we have need to fit perfectly with the aesthetic of what we’ve created.”
“The appliances are so effortlessly practical and intuitive as well. Because our families are always in and out of each other’s houses, on any given Sunday we could have between 6 – 12 people eating. Our kitchens now have the capacity to be able to cater for these numbers easily, and we had our first family Sunday lunch together in the new houses just yesterday.”
“The Siemens products look great anyway, but when I turned the hob on and started using it, one of my kids said it looked just like Knight Rider!” said Nik. “I love the way the flexInduction hob automatically knows where the pans are. You just move them and it starts heating that area. So easy.”
“And it’s so much quicker! Things like the fast preheat on the ovens mean I’m cooking straight away. In fact, I called out on Sunday that I was cooking breakfast and it was suddenly ready, but people were still getting up because we’re used to these small cottages where things took ages. Not anymore!”
This has very much been a labour of love for the whole family. “Our beleaguered partners are the real heroes. They’ve been there for us through thick and thin from start to finish,” says Nik, “so we’d like to say a huge thank you to my wife Emma and Jon’s partner Ali.”
Jon and Nik, and their two houses, can be seen on the episode of Grand Designs first broadcast on Wed 17th October at 9pm.
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