Property of the week: Stylish yet understated home a joy to behold
This week I went to see the most expensive house ever to be put on the market in Exeter, the region's capital, newly on the market at £3 million.
Lyndhurst is in the sought-after leafy and secluded area of Streatham Rise, just by Exeter University. It is, without doubt, a truly Grand Design project, having been built by a businessman for his own use, with no time, money or expense spared.
The story of Lyndhurst goes back eight years or more. The half-acre plot with a smaller house on it was bought by the current owner for a substantial sum, with the plan of redeveloping it so that he and his wife could move here from their current country home in Dorset.
It took more than six years to get the planning permission to build the current house on the site, and then a further two actually to do the work and create what is one of the most remarkable properties I have ever seen.
The house has only just come onto the market this week, with Wilkinson Grant of Exeter. Lyndhurst is the most costly house ever to be put on sale in the city, by quite some margin. So why is Lyndhurst so special?
From the quiet cul-de-sac in which it stands, Lyndhurst gives very little in the way of clues as to what lies behind the front door. Yes, the roadside aspect of the house is very attractive, but it is understated with a nod architecturally to the Arts and Crafts and Art Deco movements. I do notice, however, that the 12ft-wide iron railing gates are curved and open at the touch of a button. They were, like so much in this fabulous property, made bespoke for this house.
The house was designed not to flaunt its wealth from the road. But viewed from the garden the more private front façade of the house is stunning architecturally. Its combination of traditional elements and contemporary design make it an up-to-the-minute take on the Art Deco style of the 1920s.
And once inside the front door, the interior too really is dazzling. The house has a full-height atrium over its three floors, into which you could happily fit most normal houses. The décor is cool and contemporary, with Art Deco details such as beautiful etched and stained glass windows, especially commissioned from top artists.
Downstairs, there is a spacious sitting room (26 x 18ft) with a 25 x 16ft conservatory. This has a lovely Firebelly woodburning stove which is double-sided and opens into the enormous kitchen area.
The kitchen is a cook's dream come true, not to mention a sensational entertaining and family area. It flows on from the sitting room and is 30 x 23ft, with a huge run of Visifold doors, opening on to a beautiful south-west facing garden terrace, newly built and paved in York stone.
Like the whole of the ground floor, the kitchen is paved in beautiful cream-white limstone with underfloor heating. It has a huge kitchen island and a wide range of glossy white kitchen units. All appliances are top-of-the-range Miele, including no fewer than three ovens. Beside the kitchen is a utility room larger than most normal kitchens, with additional appliances such a substantial fridge/freezer.
I then go up the wide stairs, which have stylish glass balustrades and sleek steel handrails. Due to the top-end nature of the construction, steel-framed with poured concrete floors on each storey, even the stairs here have underfloor heating, as do all the upstairs rooms. On the first floor is a large galleried library with elegant white shelving for many hundreds of books. There are also three bedrooms here, each with lovely views over the garden. The master bedroom is 18 x 16ft, with a 15 x 9ft dressing area and a 12 x 9ft study area. Like all the rooms in the house, it has a range of bespoke light fittings and also an array of lighting moods, all controllable at the touch of a button. The ensuite bathroom (12 x 9ft) has a glamorous free-standing roll-top Victoria and Albert bath, as well as overhead rainwater-effect shower and Villeroy and Boch wall tiles.
There are two more large bedrooms on the first floor, each with its own top-spec ensuite bathroom and the same lovely view over the property's charming sheltered gardens and the hills beyond Exeter.
Upstairs once more and there is another breathtaking bedroom, essentially a second master bedroom, which is 22 x 13ft and has a balcony over the garden. It also has a wonderful bathroom, which also has its own balcony.
Design touches throughout the house add a really special touch of glamour to a pared-down and contemporary style. There are two colourful stained glass windows, especially commissioned in the Rennie Mackintosh style. There are also lovely etched glass doors into all the ensuite bathrooms, each individualy created by Welsh artist Caroline Rees.
The house also comes with all sorts of hidden treasures, such as a rainwater harvesting system and a heat recovery ventilation system, making it a very eco-friendly and healthy place to live. There are all sorts of unique features, too, like the remote-controlled bespoke blinds to shade the conservatory roof.
In the garden, your privacy is guaranteed by generous planting of established trees, and there are several lovely benches and seating areas, including a wonderful oak-framed gazebo, from which to sit and admire this very special house.
Lyndhurst, Streatham Rise, Exeter
Property: Exeter’s most expensive house, a four-bedroomed
Grand Design in a half-acre plot
open-plan kitchen and lounge with sun terrace through bifold doors. Four large bedrooms, each with generous and top-spec bathroom
Location: In a quiet cul-de-sac in the leafy area on the edge of Exeter University campus but within easy reach of the city centre shops
Outside: Landscaped garden with integral double garage, York stone paving on terraces, established lawns, borders and trees.
Agents: Wilkinson Grant, Exeter, 01392 427500, www.wilkinsongrant.co.uk.
Contact Michael Shaw at