Monday, 08 March 2021

Rural retreat with woodland walks

Rural retreat with woodland walks

FOR the Russells, moving to Lavender Cottage in Cane End was about going back to their roots.

Both James and Joanna enjoyed a countryside upbringing and wanted to get out of London to start a family.

They bought the detached thatched property about 10 years ago and have brought it up to modern standards of living.

The couple, who both work in creative industries, now have three children, aged seven, five and three, and have loved watching them revel in the outside space and woodland on their doorstep.

Mr Russell, 44, said: “My wife and I lived in London for about 20 years and decided to come out to the country to start a family.

“We were looking for somewhere with a bit more space, while also having great access to London where we both work.

“We were both born in the countryside. I am from Yorkshire and my wife is from Wales so we both wanted to go back to what we had when we were kids, which was being near big open fields and nice walks.

“When we first saw it, with the space and the thatched roof, we just fell in love with it. It is so traditional in its look and feel, it is a chocolate box-type house. You get the feeling of living in the country with its great walks, while still being close to Henley and Reading.”

The main building features a part-galleried reception hall with a snug, a kitchen/dining/family room with dual bi-fold doors. There is also a utility room, drawing room with an Inglenook fireplace and a sitting room.

Mr Russell said while there is lots of space for the family to grow, it also feels cosy which is aided by the character features of cottage living.

He said: “What we really loved about the house when we saw it the first time is that it is really homely and cosy.

“The beams and its oak frame make it really characterful but, quite unusually with a house of this style, it also has high ceilings.

“Although it looks like a cottage, the ceilings are tall enough for me and I am 6ft 1in tall and so there’s no need to bend down to move around it.

“In London, our house was very open plan, with an open plan kitchen and living area and that was what we were looking for. We have put in a new kitchen and we all hang out and spend most of our time there. This and the living room is, we all hang out together there.

“But there is also plenty of space so we can find our own areas. We have a music room that can otherwise be used as a study. We have a playroom or snug that can be a more formal dining room, it really is a flexible space.

“My favourite room is probably the living room because it is really cosy and we put a new fireplace in there and in the evenings it is just really nice to sit in there and is lovely at Christmas time. It is one of those rooms that is at the heart of the house while the outside space is also great in the summertime.”

The Russells also upgraded and enhanced the property by putting in new double glazing throughout, working carefully to maintain the look of the house. They also put in LED lighting and a new heating system.

Mr Russell added: “We have learnt a lot doing up the house. When we replaced all the internal doors we had them made to match the originals of what was there to make sure we have kept the character of the house.” Lavender Cottage is set in about 1.8 acres of mature gardens and grounds, which has been landscaped. Mr Russell said: “There is quite a bit of land and it was really exciting for us to work out what we were going to do with it. We have really enjoyed working on the garden and wanted to make the most of what there is.

“When we started, we cleared about half an acre of old laurel, which was completely overgrown, and we put in new hedging around the entire boundary of the property.

“We opened up so much more space and had a vegetable patch and an area for a greenhouse and a new widened driveway and electric gates. We also made a woodland walk around the back of the house and they have a zip wire up at the moment.”

He added: “The walks from the back of the house are fantastic. You can go up to Stoke Row and Checkendon and also the Greyhound Pub. We can go out with the dogs and be in the middle of woodland and that was just like it was when we were kids.”

In the grounds of the property is also another cottage with a sitting room/bedroom, a second bedroom and a bathroom.

Mr Russell said: “Our parents live in wales and Yorkshire and so when they come to stay they stay for a while and so it is nice for them to have their own space so we don’t get on top of each other.

“In everything that we have done we thought that this was going to be our ‘forever home’ and that’s how we treated it.

“We had no intention to make money from it, we are not developers, we spent money because we thought we would be staying here.

“We want to stay in the area, we just want a new challenge because we have enjoyed putting our mark on this home.”

• Lavender Cottage, which is on the market for £2.75 million through Warmingham estate agents, High Street, Goring, also features garage/gym/workshop complex and a gardener’s barn. To arrange a viewing, call (01491) 874144.

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