Friday, 12 August 2022

Rejuvenated townhouse has views across Henley


THIS Georgian townhouse is in a private cobbled square just 50 metres from Henley’s iconic town hall.

Number 64 Market Place has three bedrooms and two bathrooms as well as boasting some of the best views of the town centre’s well-known landmarks, including St Mary’s Church in Hart Street.

With the added possibility of parking right outside the front door — what’s not to like about it?

Owner Caroline Newsome couldn’t think of anything negative when she saw the property for sale back in 2012.

Indeed, she had been searching for a “project” in the country, to tempt her away from her home town of London and Henley seemed like a good bet.

“I’d been looking online and Number 64 just caught my eye,” she says.

The size of the house also suited her, and her VIPs — very important pooches — Monty and Ginger, her beloved cockapoos of two and three years.

But the views are what clinched it. “The changing seasonal views from the upstairs windows are particularly stunning,” says Caroline.

“I love gazing at all the rooftops over the town to Remenham Hill from the master bedroom. You get the sun in the morning, rising right in front of the house — it’s a wonderful spectacle.”

After the first six months of living there she then turned her attention to modernising and rejuvenating the property.

Caroline, who runs ARQ-A Interiors, an architectural design business, said: “I do a lot of commercial work in London but I’m more about stripping things out and making the best of the space, which I did here.”

The house was a dental surgery in a former life but getting planning permission for changes proved less harrowing than you’d imagine, for a Grade II Listed building.

Caroline says: “It had already been messed round with over the years, so the changes weren’t too much of an ask. Mainly I focused on creating a more modern living space, which suited my lifestyle better.”

The main work involved the removal of a wall to make the ground floor more open plan and moving the kitchen into the existing single-storey extension, which was used as a garden room.

Caroline says: “A team of builders I work with in London completed all the renovation works in around four months.

“As they stripped back the walls and ceilings the old plaster started to crumble off but I knew this would potentially happen due to the age of the property.”

The property is part of a terrace of three, thought to have been built in the mid 1800s for the “lower classes” of Henley.

Indeed, although these are Georgian houses, you’ll find no grand proportions or decorative plasterwork here. Just period charm and a “great feeling to it.”

Wherever possible, Caroline managed to sympathetically restore period features the house did have, such as the four original cast iron fireplaces, and sash windows. Meanwhile, she installed new electric wiring, a new heating system, new plumbing and new lighting were also taken care of, as well as underfloor heating in the bathrooms, timber flooring and black polished slate tiles.

Once the basics were in place, Caroline used her artistic eye to add the finishing touches.

On the ground floor, the living and dining room has been transformed into a stunning space. While the sitting area features a cast iron fireplace, fitted bookshelves, a polished slate floor and a sash window overlooking Market Place, the dining area has fitted shelves and a window looking out over the rear garden.

And all of it is brought together beautifully with a neutral background mixed with eye-catching pops of colour.

Caroline says: “It’s very important to get the basic palette of a house right — people underestimate it, but it can change everything about a room. Even how big it looks ”

Luckily, she managed to incorporate many of her existing art works and pieces of furniture from a previous home, here.

“I’ve collected some colourful and quirky pieces over the years which I would be loath to part with,” Caroline says.

The living space leads through to the kitchen at the back of the house. Having only recently been re-fitted, this certainly would not look out of place in an interiors magazine, and comprises painted kitchen units with granite worktops and splash-backs, along with a built in Smeg electric oven with a five-burner gas hob over. Glazed double doors lead out to the rear courtyard garden, which is fully enclosed with pedestrian rear access.

Just before you enter the kitchen, a set of stairs lead down to a full-height cellar. This has been turned into a utility room as well as a second bathroom, comprising a bath, wash hand basin and wc.

The “proper” family bathroom can be found on the top floor — and very proper it is too, thanks to the removal of the old water tank to provide as much usable space as possible.

The room comprises a panelled bath, double width shower cubicle with glass screen, a wall-mounted hand wash basin, and a wc. The upper floors also contain three bedrooms, all of which have their original cast iron fireplaces.

The master bedroom has fitted wardrobes and two sash windows — ideal picture frames to highlight those outstanding views.

Carolyn says: “I love this house but I’m in the process of looking for another project — hopefully just up the road — although it will be near impossible to find a better location than this one.”

Needless to say, she will miss the ease of living, such as the location which it provides.

Carolyn adds: “Being so central means everything is reachable — even fantastic dog walks for Monty and Ginger. All three of us will certainly miss the towpath walks along the Thames, whatever the season.”


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