PUBLISHED: 11:45 23 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:04 20 February 2013
This luxury new-build house near Pinewood Studios was turned from a strong, silent type into a real character, with a little help from an interior designer
Just a stone's throw from the world-famous Pinewood Studios at Fulmer is a new-build home that would pass any audition for a luxury country home. After all, Angelina and Brad rented nearby and the area is surrounded by wooded countryside, yet so close to London.
Red Oak House has been built with every comfort in mind, from its grand oak staircase to its holistic spa room in the basement.
As you might expect for a home in this location, there's also a large cinema room. Add to this 10 acres of grounds, a paddock and stabling for three horses and you won't be surprised to learn that it comes with a price tag of £4.5 million. But furnishing a new family home in a way that injects a character and an interest into the rooms, even if they are built to the highest specification, can sometimes be more challenging.
Design Director Stacey Walker, of Alexander James Interiors, is used to working on both new and refurbished properties. Some of her more recent work includes Avalon, the former Douai Abbey site at Upper Woolhampton, near Newbury, and St George's Court in Weybridge. So, when she was asked to furnish a six bedroom new-build house that needed some personality injecting into it, she took on the job with relish."This house was rather special because I had to make it contemporary but classical at the same time," says Stacey. "My brief was to give the house an elegant, country look, keeping in mind that it was also a family home. My client didn't want a London feel." It was also important to keep the house light and airy to take advantage of the many large windows in the reception rooms.
The large hallway with its custom-made staircase and galleried landing set the scene, after all the owner wanted to create a memorable first impression. The travertine floors make a confident statement and to compliment this Stacey chose a palette of neutral colours so that the look and feel of the reception hall flowed effortlessly through the house from the minute you walked in."This is a great house for entertaining and anyone who comes through the front door needs to know straight away that this home has it all," says Stacey. The drawing room is equally impressive, and while it is large, by a clever use of fabrics and by configurating the furniture to maximise the space, Stacey has made the room feel formal yet comfortable with two large sofas on either side of the fireplace. "I tried to play with textures in here," she says. So the feature cushions are in linen wool, silk and. Some even have feathers on the corners. There are feature chairs, too, in an Andrew Martin velvet check that have been studded with chrome to add contemporary detail.
While Stacey has chosen contemporary furniture, it all has a classic edge to it. The black sideboards and side tables come from London-based independent designers Ecco Trading and although they are made of wood they have a "graphite" finish and their soft curves fit in perfectly with the more relaxed feel of the room. For the walls Stacey chose a grey paper from Casamance with a suede look which adds warmth to the wall. "When the light catches it you get a pearlescent look," she says. To accessorise the room, Stacey chose several objects in chrome which contrast wonderfully with greys and blacks. She was especially drawn to oversized pieces like the large hurricane lamps on the cabinets.
Next door, the dining room has been given a more traditional ambience with country style oak furniture and sideboards, but the chairs are contemporary and the glass chandelier adds an up-to-date finishing touch. The enormous kitchen and living area is much less formal and Stacey went for a slightly different feel. "I thought it would be good to go for a French painted look," she says. Although the sideboard she has chosen is contemporary, it has a pale burnt umber -washed front that fits in perfectly with the gentle neutral colours of the scheme.
The windows are treated with eyelet headed curtains in a crisp linen stripe from Romo that echoes the French theme.
Downstairs, the family is well catered for with a lavish entertainment and leisure complex. There's a spacious snooker room and a good-sized gym. A wonderfully relaxing holistic room where you can treat yourself to a massage is a real haven. "It's like having your own spa," says Stacey, who looked to the orient for a relaxing scheme.
With the world-famous Pinewood Studios just down the road, a cinema room in such a prestigious house is a must and Stacey enjoyed working on a Hollywood theme complete with ornamental spotlights from Eichholtz and framed images of the stars like Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart on the walls.
Film star chic is very much in evidence upstairs, too, where Stacey got to work on the master bedroom, complete with wet room and walk in dressing room. "I wanted to make the room glamorous and thought that mirrored walls each side of the headboard would not only help achieve this but would also make the room seem even bigger." The striking leather headboard also adds a touch of drama as well as height.
There are five further bedrooms, two of which are on the top floor and these have sloping ceilings. Again they are dressed in relaxing neutrals. In a large house with such spacious rooms, Stacey appreciated the importance of small touches throughout and has injected character with the clever use of textures both on the wall and in fabrics. Mirrors and oversized accessories have also helped to add a sense of drama to the property. But there is also a twist in the tale. Stacey's client has had to move on unexpectedly and so the house is now up for sale. The good news, however, is that it can be sold with all the furnishings if desired. You could say it's set to play a leading role in some fortunate new owner's life.
Red Oak House, Fulmer, is on the market at £4.5 million through Ashington Page,
tel: 01189 627870 and Knight Frank, tel: 01494 675886. For more information about interior design contact Alexander James Interiors on 0118 932 0828, www.aji.co.uk