“If we had to do it all over again, we would”
Anna and Jake had a long-term plan to build their dream house on the River Thames. But it took some time to find the plot, acquire planning permission to knock down an existing dwelling and then build a new home to their exact specification.
Five years ago they found the perfect location, a 2/3 acre plot with uninterrupted views of a pleasant stretch of the Thames, complete with its own pontoon. The couple and their two children moved onto the plot, living in the existing property there, and started to think about creating their new dream home.
Working with Exedra Architects’ Daren Drage, they drew up initial plans with some firm, clear cut ideas about living areas, leisure and most essential, touches of unexpected drama.
One of the biggest challenges was finding the right company to translate their blueprint plans into magnificent reality, and after checking the credentials of half a dozen top end housebuilders, they selected Octagon Bespoke.
“With over forty years’ continuous experience in the luxury property market, along with reassurances from friends who owned Octagon homes, we felt we could entrust our lifelong dream of building the perfect house to the Octagon team, a decision we have never regretted from day one.”
The front of the house has all the classical good looks expected for an imposing house flanking the Thames. Set well back from the road behind period style iron railings, the white rendered exterior walls, large sash windows, elegant portico entrance, and resin graveled drive emit a timeless quality, paying deference to the original villas nearby.
Walking through the front door, after taking in a most dramatic trompe l’oeil decorated entrance hall, visitors discover a contemporary, light flooded open plan interior, where the rear of the house opens up to an elevated decked terrace, beyond which rolling lawns lead to the floating pontoon and the clients’ beloved Thames.
The ground floor living space, with its clever undulation of differing floor levels, takes up a considerable proportion of the 9,000 sq ft home. The soft bronze tones of the Extreme Designs kitchen, with its extraordinary leathered granite work top and latest range of Gaggenau appliances, extend harmoniously into adjoining family dining and sitting areas, with focal point centre piece floating gas fired log fire.
Frequent entertainers, Anna insisted on an out-of-sight utility room housing dishwasher and deep sink, so she could close the door on the increasing stack of dinnerware until guests had departed.
Returning to the astonishing entrance hall – definitely the scene stealer of this extensive home – with no little part due to the specially commissioned digital mural, which extends from the front door, around the vast swathe of walls, and descends via a circular sweep of marble stairs to the lower ground leisure and fitness suites.
“We fell in love with the mural artist Adam Ellis’ work, after discovering some of his earlier work at The Ivy in Richmond. He creates bold, colour rich wall coverings to order, and will incorporate features that have a special significance for the client. For us, it was important to include the flora and fauna we grew up with, and because my husband is passionate about Greek mythology, ancient temples and figures were woven into the brief. Adam and his artists install the mural, and then embellish on site with their own palettes and paintbrushes.
“For the hall floor, we asked the stone suppliers to create an optical illusion design in black and white marble. When viewed from above, the tiles magically transform from a flat, level surface into a bowl curve, which is both clever and intriguing.
“Part of the hall has been designated for formal dining, where behind retractable glass doors, our treasured table, made from reclaimed Rhodesian railway sleepers that have been French polished, and leather lace (riempie) seated chairs take pride of place.”
On the first floor are five substantial double bedrooms, three en-suites plus a separate family bathroom, and Anna’s own study, with rough-hewn African rosewood ‘work bench’ facing out of a wide internal window into the lower living levels of the house – the perfect matriarch look out post.
The second floor is devoted to the Master Suite, with a comfortable sitting room, and a double length dressing room with designated ‘his’ and ‘her’ storage. The dressing room opens onto a beautiful Perlato Olympo polished marble clad bathroom, with double open shower and freestanding bath – the warm earth tones of the marble marrying well with the antique copper taps and shower controls. The large full height window with opaque lower panel allows the clients to relax in this oasis, while enjoying views of their rear gardens and checking on the sedate river traffic.
As well as their passion for the river, where the family take regular kayaking trips, when not relaxing in their new waterside summer house built from mellow, well-seasoned timbers, the family are seriously into sport, indoor leisure and not least, fitness.
The lower ground floor of their spectacular home houses a gym of gargantuan proportions, kitted out to professional standards, with room enough for the World Cup winning Springboks 15 to train in comfort. Then there is the playroom, with full size pool table, cinema screen wall, and long 90-degree angle cocktail bar in beaten metal, facing enough sumptuous high stools for a dozen or so house guests. A dumb waiter from the ground floor utility room opens in the bar area, providing the family’s very own ‘Deliveroo’ service, perfect for both partakers and observers of competitive sports.
“This has been a long, and at times, exhausting project. We were ambitious with our vision for design and specification and our team of architects, suppliers, and not least Octagon have been there every step of the way. We all absolutely love our new home, so it has been worth it, and if we had to do it all over again, we would – as long as Octagon was at the helm.”
Contact: 0208 481 7500