Today’s Coolest Habitats: Jon and Nik Daughtry

Twin-duo Jon and Nik Daughtry, creative directors at DED, are the latest addition to feature in our Today’s Coolest Habitats series. Just featured on Grand Designs, we couldn’t wait to discover their newly finished, near-identical homes in Sheffield.

We caught up with the brothers to hear all about their ambitious building project as they showed us around their industrial-style homes. Go on, take a look for yourselves…

WHERE DO YOU LIVE AND WHO DO YOU LIVE WITH?

We live in Oughtibridge, Sheffield. In the first house, Jon lives with Ali, Alicia, Emile, Maisie, Nick, Heidi the golden retriever and the cats – Anna & Isabel.Whilst next door, Nik live with Emma, Felix, Matilda, Isaac, Scarlett, Wilf the golden retriever and Lollie the cat.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS PARTICULAR LOCATION AND HOME?

We were born and bred here in Sheffield, also known as The Steel City. The plot of land, Nik found sold on an auction website and having lived in the next village for much of our childhood, he had his interest peaked by the existence of a millpond on an otherwise steep hill. Out of curiosity more than anything he contacted the then owner to see if Emma and he could visit. She obliged and subsequently explained that the sale was not going through and if they were interested it was ours.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELVES.

We are both creative directors at DED, a Sheffield based graphic design agency that works internationally. We also own our own Gallery/Event Space called 99 Mary St., which is a post-industrial concept space for the showing and sharing of everything that’s good in creative endeavour.

IS THIS YOUR DREAM JOB AND WHY?

From logos to luminaries, designers to makers, DED are over 25 years old and whilst what they do is broadening, why they do it and what they stand for remains the same. They bring with new undertakings, the same core ideals and ethics that they’ve worn throughout the whole journey – same feet, same shoes, same soul.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO DO WHAT YOU DO?

Our love of design. Our creative days are always different, from the people we meet, to the projects we embark upon. Central to everything we do is ‘design’.

HOW DID THE IDEA ARISE THAT YOU WOULD BOTH LIKE TO BUILD YOUR OWN HOMES?

As children, aged 6 or 7 we’d lay on our parents living room floor drawing plans of our houses side by side with interconnecting tunnels and slides. Now we get to live that dream (minus the tunnels and slides).

WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR HOMES’ DESIGNS?

The inspiration was to create low maintenance homes with the use of untreated raw materials, such as steel, concrete blocks and plywood sheeting. The narrative was simple, to let the materials speak for themselves.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR GRAND DESIGNS EXPERIENCE?

We loved it. It helped focus the mind. We’d spend a great deal of time just chatting with Kevin. The director would be anxiously snapping the clapper board shut to try and move us along but we’d just keep talking!

HOW LONG DID THE PROJECT TAKE FROM START TO FINISH?

Concept, design and planning took 2 years and in this time, we also spent the best part of 12 months bringing the pond back to life – over the years it had been quite neglected. We de-silted it, relocating 400 tons into two natural beds, planted 600 native plants and introduced a plan to increase the biodervisty to the area. It wasn’t long before the hard work paid off; nesting Kingfishers, Moorhens, Herons and around 30 ducks thought is was a cool habitat, and we haven’t even laid a brick. Our habitats took a little longer though – from first breaking ground the build took 18 months to complete.

WHAT WAS THE BEST AND WORST PART OF THE PROCESS?

The best, which could have quite easily been the worst for most people, was in the evenings and weekends, having to carry over 9000 concrete blocks together with Jon through the winter months, up two levels, so they were set out for the following days. As children we watched our father build, literally by hand, two of the three family homes we had the pleasure of living in as we grew up. We wanted to feel connected as much as possible to the build and it’s his inspiration that kept us going. We hope that this determination will have inspired our children too.

The worst part was knocking newly laid wonky walls down. The weight of each block meant that only 4 courses could be laid a day. When the original bricky started to get lazy this rule seem to evaporate which meant walls buckled under their own weight. We had no option but to take them down and start again (enter new bricky). Costly and very frustrating!

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR INTERIORS STYLE?

Like our gallery, post-industrial but with a definite love of the mid century. You can describe the exterior as ‘Voodoo Architecture’, as the black simply disappears into the trees.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INTERIORS INSPIRATION?

Design blogs are an endless source, but also the places around us. Coffee bars full of house plants or meeting spaces with cool Scandi chill out zones or hotels with micro storage solutions. We’ve heard “Oooh I could live here” many times in our gallery!

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE INTERIORS TREND AT THE MOMENT?

Valchromat, a ‘Sugar-paper’ Coloured MDF. Scratch it and just keep sanding, like Blackpool rock it’s the same all the way through.

WHAT’S YOUR TOP TIP TO SOMEONE CONSIDERING INTRODUCING AN INDUSTRIAL SCHEME INTO THEIR HOME?

Embrace it…don’t do it by halves, whether it’s rough-luxe or raw materials, it’s just the base for what’s to come.

ARE YOU A HABITAT VOYEUR?

Oh yes. I can see you.

WHOSE HOME DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?

1a Park Lane in Sheffield (not London). Designed for David Mellor (legendary British designer) by Patrick Guest and built between 1959-60, it’s a beautifully simple building, that echoes the beauty of David’s work. The current owner has done an amazing job retaining all its original detail and making it a beautiful home.

WHAT DOES HABITAT MEAN TO YOU?

Grown up cool stuff, created by some incredible designers. In the 70s there can’t be many companies that could have commissioned works by the now legendary Peter Blake, David Hockney and Robin Denny (the UK’s leading contemporary artist at the time), each creating an unlimited print sold for just £3.50.

WHICH HABITAT PRODUCTS DO YOU LOVE AND WHY?

Jon & Ali: The newest member to our Habitat family is the Patsy wall mirror and we love it. In an otherwise angular home, with straight lines and sharp edges, the voluptuous round curves of this extra large mirror are a treat.

Nik & Emma: The Vintage Robin Day Forum sofa and armchair. We purchased this 15 years ago and absolutely love the design. Sadly over the years with dogs, cats and kids, the leather wasn’t looking its best so just before we finished the houses, we had them recovered in a beautiful ‘Kingfisher blue’ fabric. We look forward to enjoying them for at least another 15 years.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOU HOME?

Jon & Ali: Undoubtably the favourite thing about our home is the view it affords of the pond. It’s a magical place that never fails to deliver, whatever the season, whatever the weather.

Nik & Emma: The surprise others feel as they walk up through the space. With the houses being on stilts in front of a large dam wall, you aren’t necessarily aware of the water above. As they climb 5 meters up through the house there is definitely a “I didn’t expect that” moment.

HOW HAVE YOU MADE THIS HOUSE YOUR HOME?

Installing kids, dogs and cats, plus all the ephemera that comes along with them. We built a house and now we can make them into homes.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR MOST TREASURED POSSESSIONS?

The art…we’ve been picking things up for years, plus having a gallery helps. As soon as you add a piece to a room, suddenly there is a story there. Of course in the new house, walls have been made of concrete blocks so it’s not easy to hang pictures up, so for now they lay propped against the wall or sat on a sideboard, I like this.

WHERE IS THE HEART OF YOUR HOME?

Nik & Emma: The kitchen (like most homes I would imagine) but this is an extra special place, made from valchromat, coloured like honey and manufactured by three new skool craftsman in Sheffield. Not only is it a great place to socialise in and cook but it’s a great vantage point to watch the Kingfisher.

IS THIS YOUR PERFECT HABITAT?

We are living the dream, having endured the nightmare that sometimes is ‘self build’. We did it with a smile, with family and with friends. All that remains now is to fill them with memories.

TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOURSELF OR YOUR HOME THAT NOT MANY PEOPLE KNOW.

As designers and makers, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to collaborate on the design and manufacturing of a series of light fittings. ‘Strip’ takes its lead from the old industrial strip lamps of the past and resonates with the industrial aesthetic and styling of the homes we’ve created.

Like what you see?

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