78 Derngate is a tiny house. Just seven rooms and none of them over twelve feet square. But parts of it will take your breath away. The two next-door houses have been converted to accommodate the ticket desk, shop, restaurant, museum and function rooms, allowing 78 itself to be restored exactly and fully to the original Mackintosh and Bassett-Lowke design. Macintosh AND Bassett-Lowke? Yes. The interior of the house owes almost as much to the patron as the architect. Apart from a small detail on the newel post on the staircase, there are none of the fluid, organic Art Nouveau aspects of the earlier designs produced by Macintosh and his wife, Margaret Macdonald. The house is unremittingly geometric in the sparse, minimalist style favoured by the owner. Some of the details are stunning. Look out for the reflector on the light fitting and the cupboard latches in the hall-lounge, the dining room window, and the tiny chairs in the guest bedroom.
Finally, have lunch in the restaurant. Not cheap, but top quality ingredients competently cooked in a well-proportioned Georgian room with a huge bay window looking out over the truncated garden.
The house recently won a award as the best small visitor attraction in England. Spend half a day there and you'll see why.
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