A PIECE of New England on the banks of the River Thames is the only way to describe Reve House. After five years in the planning stages, the statuesque five-bedroom property in The Warren, Caversham is now finished and on the market with Jackson-Stop & Staff — but it has been a labour of love for owner, Helen Weller, supported by her husband Gary.
Having built a property three doors down, the couple bought two building plots. They sold one with the intention of building a home to live in on the other — but having lived the project for the past five years Helen is ready to move on and hand the property over to someone to love so that she can move on to her next challenge.
The plot came with planning permission in place, but Helen decided she wanted to improve on the original design. She decided that a New England style fitted perfectly with the waterside setting, and factored in many balconies to provide the perfect location to enjoy the vistas.
“It really is like a moving screen with the scenery constantly changing every hour, every day and every season,” said Helen.
Helen’s previous experience was to build a very contemporary home, pushing the boundaries of design.
“We built a white box when no one else was doing white boxes, but with this one I wanted to do something completely different, something with depth and texture.”
Helen described the project as “just for fun” but you can clearly see she puts her heart and soul into everything she does, working closely with a project manager and even designing the windows herself. With no formal training she simply used her innate style and vision to create the home of her dreams.
Reve House, which provides more than 5, 500 square feet of accommodation, has been built to an exceptional standard with the highest-spec finishes. This includes a natural slate roof and external wood boarding as well as handmade hardwood double-glazed windows. The floors are constructed with block and beam with a mixture of natural oak, ceramics and carpet, and underfloor heating is supplied via the most up-to-date air source system, backed up by mains gas.
The custom-made Italian Marazzi kitchen is fitted with Gaggenau and Siemens appliances. The bath and shower rooms are all individually designed with a range of fittings from Hansgrohe and Victoria and Albert. The house is fitted with state-of-the-art entertainment systems including a 3D Pure Theatre cinema system and a sound system by Sonus. Cat 6 cabling is fitted throughout.
Helen’s favourite room in the house is the cellar. Hidden from diners by a frosted glass wall, when you are ready for another bottle you simply flick a switch or touch an icon on your iPad to reveal your preferred vintage. And while the cinema system enables you to view films on the big screen, it discreetly tucks away into the ceiling after use so it does not dominate the room.
Helen said: “People are a lot more demanding these days. TV home design shows feature the latest must-have gadgets and gizmos and now everyone can have them.”
As a woman in a man’s world, does Helen come up against any discrimination?
“Well my husband bought me a pink hard hat for when I go on site but that is where the distinction ends,” she says. “When I built my first house in 1982 women did not get involved until it was time to choose the soft furnishings. But I make it my business to research everything and to know what I am talking about and I think they respect the fact that I can make informed decisions.”
The property enjoys views across the garden and river to the water meadows beyond. These views can be enjoyed from a first floor balcony or from a large area of decking on the ground floor, both fitted with colonial-style wooden balconies.
Steps lead down to a south-facing garden which has been completely re-landscaped. It is laid to lawn flanked by well-stocked flower beds and young trees and extends to the river edge where there is private berthing amounting to approximately 45ft. To the front of the house an automatic gate opens onto a gravel parking area for several cars and double garage with an office/studio above.
Helen added: “I do enjoy putting together the decor and always try to do something different and surprising. I have a feature wall in most rooms with tactile wallpaper — in one it even has glass woven into the fabric. But I built this with a family in mind to bring it to life.Now it needs to be lived in.”
The property is available through Jackson-Stops & Staff for a guide price of ú3,800,000. For more information, call (01491) 871111.