Mad About . . .

The Househunter Room by Room

15th September 2017
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Friday already so it must be time we gathered our sandwiches and our comfortable shoes and set off round the country for the weeklyl virtual open house that is having a nose around other people’s homes and wondering what we would do differently if we lived there.

First up is this rather fabulous gaff in the Cotswolds, which belongs to the interior designer Clare Nash. Those of you who have ever eaten in a burger in Byron will be familiar with her work. Her four bedroom house near Chippenham, in Wiltshire, is on the market for £1,000,000 via Knight Frank.

Originally two cottages, it dates back to 1824 and it’s now a spacious four bedroom house. On the ground floor is this utility room (pictured above) and the large kitchen, as well as the dining room (with stairs up) sitting room and study.

Upstairs there are two good size bedrooms and bathrooms and a smaller one while under the eaves there is another bedroom with a mezzanine sitting area.

At the bottom of the garden there is a brook with a pretty waterfall and a garage that could be converted into a studio or office. As usual with these houses I quite fancy it myself.

What appeals, of course, is the decor which isn’t too chocolate boxy (a common problem with these houses) and the mix of navy blue and grey with lots of natural stone wood. Painting the beams white is a simple trick that almost no-one in low-ceilinged cottages ever seems to do, but which was how they were intended to be seen. It does make the ceiling recede and appear higher.

Now where shall we go to next on our virtual ramble? How about Highgate, north London, to see this ENORMOUS house which is on the market with The Modern House for £7m. I know, this slightly exceeds even my fantasy lottery wins but on the basis that we’re unlikely to see anything like this in real life, we might as well sneak in virtually.

I mean look at the size of that. And all those trees out of the window. I mean if we’re going to be picky it does look quite long and narrow. But then again it’s 6,000 sq ft which is huge. I mean three times the size of The Mad House for example.

The main house is four bedrooms (as is the one above – although clearly scale is everything in this case) and there is a building in the grounds (snap) but this one, and perhaps this is what you get for 7m quid, is referred to as a writer’s retreat or guest house rather than office. Mind you that’s not all, there’s also a three or four bedroom apartment over a shop which opens to the High Street and behind which this whole set up is located.

Although it’s clearly industrial in style it’s still warm (I think) partly because of all the wood inside – and remember Dulux were talking about warm wood being a key part of that homely feeling the other day- and partly because you just see greenery from every window which softens it all. Not that I wouldn’t sling down the odd rug but check that red velvet chair just in shot above. That is the sort of unexpected touch in which we delight in The Mad House.

A similar effect has been achieved with this old painting on the wall which contrasts with the modernity of the building and all the steel. You’d expect to see a picture like that in a National Trust property but in here I think it looks better than a modern abstract one.

Now, this room is one you might be able to use as inspiration. An office under the eaves is something many of us have in loft conversions and here they haven’t bothered with a dormer window to increase space or head height but have just arranged storage along the sides. You can walk down the middle of the room and easily get files and printers that are stored in the dead space that you can’t stand up in.

Oh and I did I mention the infinity swimming pool? I’ll take it. And the other one. So I need eight million quid by about four o’clock this afternoon. Anyone got any plans? Shall we set up a Kickstarter – there are bound to be rooms we can rent out in return for investment.

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  • Jill Brittingham 22nd September 2017 at 6:18 am

    Your description of each room of the house is quite unique.The decor looks good but surely not the best. Waiting for your another blog on better looking house.

  • Annie 15th September 2017 at 1:42 pm

    I LOVE that house in the Cotswolds, that is my idea of perfection. Well, I would need cupboard doors in the kitchen but otherwise…

  • Steph 15th September 2017 at 12:06 pm

    I have to admit I’m with Anna above, I had a hard time getting past the cream/black rug in the cottage. It shows up EVERYWHERE and I feel, like purple bellbottoms, will be screaming 2017 for eternity. I do rather like the more modern place though it does sound more like they didn’t know when to stop building/adding on. Perhaps for our air bnb lives….

  • Kerry 15th September 2017 at 11:05 am

    I love them both!

  • Kerry 15th September 2017 at 11:04 am

    I love them both!

  • Stevie 15th September 2017 at 10:52 am

    The Chippenham cottage is nice – but that utility room is scary-looking, too dark and gloomy. Lovely spacious bathroom, though! However, even if money were no object, nothing would persuade me to buy the second house – the best thing about it is the views from the windows.

  • Anna 15th September 2017 at 10:50 am

    I know from experience that to live in the country house on offer, you have to have strong legs….so much walking in that kitchen from Aga to sink to storage cupboards to Age to sink….so best suited to a young family growing up…oh and I am beginning to hate that ubiquitous off white and black, crisscrossed patterned rug shown in the sitting room….how many did they give away to interior designers I wonder?

    • Clare Nash 16th September 2017 at 8:28 am

      Hi Anna, have you stayed in my cottage? I hope you liked it! The kitchen is actually quite small by modern standards and the sink and Aga are very close to one another so I’m sorry it it was tough on your legs. The Atlas Berber rug is Moroccan and I have had it for 15 years. They have been made in that country for hundreds if not thousands of years. I agree they have become drearily ubiquitous recently but I was certainly not given mine! Hopefully they will go out of fashion soon and I can just get back to loving mine without its connotations….

  • nvrm 15th September 2017 at 9:07 am

    I’m puzzled whether the garage feel in the cottage living room is intentional or not. – I mean, the TV on a stool and all the tangled wires behind it.

    • Nicola 16th September 2017 at 6:29 am

      The TV teetering in the stool and the mass of wiring behind was the first thing I spotted too. Why would a designer do that? So assuming she would take her horrible flat screen away I would like the cottage please. The Highgate house leaves me cold. And speaking of cold why is a swimming pool considered desirable in Britain? I live in Sydney and we have a pool which is lovely but only gets used a few months of the year and needs maintaining all year. But I suppose if you have 7 million to spend on a house pool maintenance isn’t going to be a problem.

      • Clare Nash 16th September 2017 at 8:32 am

        Hi Nicola…..I rent the cottage out a lot so was told that I had to have one of these horrid largeish tellys – I agree it is awful. Though it is by no means as big as it looks in this picture – dreadful estate agent pic using a fisheye lens. I hate this picture! The wires look awful. People who rent the cottage for a holiday do the most extraordinary things and this family had clearly unplugged everything and left it like this and I wasn’t at the cottage before the photographer went in!

        • Nicola 18th September 2017 at 10:52 am

          Goodness Clare – you must have been livid with the Estate Agent for taking that photo then. I did think it was odd for a stylist not to have a tidy up for the photos. Good luck with the sale.

  • Anne Brown 15th September 2017 at 8:40 am

    Interesting choices this week Kate.
    I couldn’t live in the Highgate house – too big and scary at night, and wouldn’t because it would feel too modern and office-like. However, bagsy the Chippenham house. Spacious enough, but not too much so, calm and complatative. I love how the current owners have respected the property’s age and authenticity, while adding elements that enable it to function as a modern home. Room to make and store homemade jams and chutney here, plus just the right feel (and colour palette) to get in the mood to sit down write the novel I’ve never got round to. Ace!

  • Elaine 15th September 2017 at 7:45 am

    I agree… Ido not like the cottage at all and the 7m squid one is awful in my humble opinion. Did not like one thing about it. Sorry Kate.x

  • Mandy 15th September 2017 at 7:35 am

    Usually i love your choices but sorry to say this week I don’t like either. I feel I should like the first one but something doesn’t gel for me – it feels a bit dark and dismal. Does the second have a corrugated tin roof?! For 7m squid!? Imagine the noise when it rains. I do like the quirky touches you pointed out but overall it looks depressing…..at least i just saved myself a fortune ☺

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