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Wednesday, 03 March 2021
A PROPERTY that was designed by an architect to excite the senses has come on the market.
Ossicles in Newnham Hill, Henley, has large open-plan areas separated by glass and vaulted ceilings to make the most of light and space.
Large windows feature throughout giving uninterrupted views of the Chilterns, an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Helen and Chris Brooks are only the second owners of the detached five-bedroom property, having moved in in July 2015 after six years living in Hong Kong.
The couple found that Ossicles provided a living space that best matched the lifestyle they enjoyed while living abroad.
Mrs Brooks said: “Where we lived in Hong Kong, we had floor to ceiling glass windows and it was all open-plan, so living like that was something that we were used to.
“When I went back to the UK, where many homes are quite traditional, I felt that the rooms were just too small.
“I think once you live in a big place with high ceilings you get used to that feeling that you don’t get in a traditional house where some ceilings are not higher than 2.8 metres.
“When we saw Ossicles, we thought it was a magnificent piece of architecture and reminded us of Hong Kong.
“In some places the glass is six to eight metres high and comes with some big spaces. It just reminded us of living overseas so that is what clinched it for us.”
The living accommodation is split over three levels with four bedrooms on the lower ground floor, two of which are en-suite, and a separate family bathroom.
On the ground floor is an open plan kitchen/breakfast/family room, a formal sitting room and a drawing room. A limestone terrace runs the length of the dining and reception area with a wall of glass doors that open to give the sense the garden is an extension of the house.
There is also the master bedroom which is en-suite and has a walk-in dressing room and its own balcony. On the first floor is a study.
Mrs Brooks, a former journalist, said the property will work well with a big family.
“You get such a feeling of space,” she said. “I know some people don’t like open-plan living because they think it will be too noisy but it works well for us as a family. We have three children and, yes, children are noisy but we have adapted to it.
“It is on three different floors and downstairs we have four bedrooms, so the way we have done it is the children get their own floor.
“Our three children are grown up now and they invite their friends over. They are teenagers and so play their music loudly but because they have their own floor it doesn’t bother us.
So, if you like your children to have their separate space that would work for you, too.”
Mrs Brooks says the home is a social space, allowing their family to stay in touch with each other while her family can also find their own areas to have some “me” time. She explained: “I love the fact that when you are in the kitchen cooking you can see what other people are doing in the other spaces, you are not separate.
“You can be cooking on the hob and you are looking out over the garden whereas in a traditional house you might be looking at a wall. I like seeing everyone and being able to talk to people.
“But then our bedroom, which is also on the middle floor, works well because it is at the end of a corridor and so you can shut yourselves off from the rest of the house. Our bedroom also has a terrace and when it’s hot you can sunbathe without being overlooked.
“So while there are large open spaces, you can also have your own separate spaces to lock yourself away. It is not completely exposed”. She added: “My husband works from home so he has his study on the top floor and walks over a glass walkway to get there — that’s his commute.”
Mrs Brooks says she and her husband, a banker, appreciate the look of the house and the way it has been designed.
“Every time I come up the drive I am struck by the architecture,” she said. “It has been beautifully created. It is also a very glamorous house with marble surfaces and a glass staircase — it makes you feel quite special living here.”
Mrs Brooks says having so much glass is not difficult to maintain and the large windows provide a sense of wellbeing.
She said: “I find the glass very easy to keep clean and the glass on the outside doesn’t get as dirty as you think — I have a window cleaner come in once a year.
“When you have glass walls, it means there is always something to look at through the window — you can see every season come and go.
“Right now I am really enjoying seeing all the leaves of the trees change colour. Even when it is really dark and raining you can still look out and see what’s going on and I just love to be able to do that.
“We have a field next door with sheep and they make little sounds and we have farmers moving their cattle and so you can hear their little sounds too and I just love that you have a view from any window you look out from. There is always a view.
“This place during the coronavirus lockdown was a great place to be because you feel that you are being kept indoors and it is very peaceful.
“When we have had friends stay here before covid they would say it was like being away on holiday because it is so quiet and it is a big house so you can have parties and big get-togethers.”
Ossicles is situated in a hamlet and while it is in a rural setting, it is part of a thriving community.
Mrs Brooks said: “When we went out and did the clap for carers on a Thursday night during the national coronavirus lockdown, you could hear the other houses in the hamlet doing the same so you don’t feel cut off.
“The hamlet itself has about 10 houses but they are all hidden away but you get this sense that you are not alone and that was really nice.
“You can also go on lots of beautiful walks right from the front door. You can get to the Ridgeway and do some brilliant walks and you can also get to the Crooked Billet pub in Stoke Row and the Rising Sun pub in Witheridge Hill and there are lots of farms around that are walking distance away and so you can pick up lots of fantastic local produce.
“The house is 10 minutes from Henley and 15 minutes from Marlow by car so even though you are in a rural location, you are not too far away from civilisation either. It is like having the best of both worlds.”
The couple, who are selling up to move closer to family in London, will miss the space indoors and out and the views of the countryside.
“I love the space and the views,” Mrs Brooks said. “The garden goes all the way around the house and we have a big terrace with glass doors from the kitchen that slide all the way down. We have got a damson tree that has given us the most magnificent damsons this year.”
The property is approached through electric gates and planning permission was previously granted for a double garage designed to complement the house, although this has now lapsed and would need to be reapplied for.
• Ossicles is on the market with Knight Frank, of Thames Side, Henley, with a guide price of £2,750,000. For more information and to book a viewing, call (01491) 844900.
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