Beech House is a large, contemporary new country house, built next to a Grade II* listed barn in the grounds of The Hermitage, also Grade II listed, in the village of Souldern in Oxfordshire. This is a unique site and we knew it would be difficult to gain planning approval. We worked closely with our client and Conservation Officers at Cherwell District Council so that the plans for this new house could be supported at committee stage. Beech House had to be sympathetic to The Hermitage and enhance the local Conservation Area.
This house is all about how you move through the living spaces and how they are connected to the gardens and the countryside beyond.
Mature trees surround the house, including a Grade-A beech tree from which the house takes its name. Large expanses of glass flood the house with daylight, providing beautiful and changing perspectives on the fantastic views all year round.
The entrance vestibule leads into a dramatic double-height entrance hall filled with dappled light from the elegant second storey windows. There are far-reaching, special views in all directions.
Formal sitting and dining rooms lead off the hallway. Straight ahead, past the stairwell and a cloakroom, is the large, open-plan kitchen, dining and family room – a relaxed living space connected to the gardens by large doors and windows.
Downstairs in the basement, a huge games room with its own bar opens onto a secret, sunken terrace. Visible light wells at the front of the house, nestled amongst the lavender borders, provide glimpses of this wonderful entertainment space. Also on this level are an office, a gym with changing rooms and a further cloakroom, a storeroom and a plant room.
Upstairs a luxurious master suite with dressing room and bathroom occupies one wing of the first floor. There is also a large guest suite and two further bedrooms sharing a Jack-and-Jill bathroom. At the top of the house, in the eaves, are two more bedrooms, a bathroom and generous loft storage.
High-quality natural materials were chosen for the understated exterior, which is a seamless mix of traditional and contemporary architecture including traditional coursed rubble. The striking interiors are more modern, with an oak structure that will weather to a silver colour in time. All the fixtures and fittings are to the highest quality specifications, and the latest energy-saving technologies make the home easy and efficient to maintain, and upgradable in the future.