Designed for his family in 1934 by Valentine Harding, a leading member of Berthold Lubetkin of Penguin Pool fame’s Tecton Group, this beautiful Modernist house in Buckinghamshire is set in beautifully landscaped gardens and approached by a quiet country lane flanked by woods. Burnham Beeches is an area of ancient woodland covering 544 acres and protected as a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest. Harding worked on Highgate’s Highpoint 1 and went on to set up his own practice with Godfrey Samuel before dying at Dunkirk.
Our aim was to soften up the stunning light-fused interiors adding an organic Scandinavian feel with a few Japanese touches without taking away from the sweeping feeling from room to room. We softened up the sitting room with a Berber-style rug and squishy Marshmallowy sofa pulling it forward so guests could enjoy the view outside to the gardens and spiral staircase. We broke up the black tiles of the fireplace with sculptural midcentury and modern pieces and prints dotting colour around without over-powering the space.
Charlotte Perriand chairs gave a nod to Le Corbusier with Modernist books and a Pieff dining table was used as a desk to add a creative feel where you could spread out your books and tools to the study. A sculpture of vases that had fused together in the kiln with bubbling glaze as if they had been dug up from the bottom of the sea by Talia James and a plant act as focal point as you looked left from the main entrance coming into the house.
We always like to put a few architects favourite chairs in our stagings. Architects tend to go for the chairs with a story rather than the more obvious ones. We wonder what Valentine would have picked up in his architects travels. Perhaps a Dutch chair or two, some Alvar Aalto pieces or a Bruno Mathsson Pernilla?
A wall of full-height sliding glass doors in the dining room and kitchen diner frame stunning views of the garden and open this entire space onto various garden terraces.
The kitchen with its bespoke cabinetry and Miele appliances has a central island so we wanted to give it a sociable feeling using vintage casserole pots, Danish teak bowls, small copper weight pans, studio pottery condiment bottles and plants without cluttering up the lovely view over the sink to the kitchen garden behind.
Further on a conservatory added more recently just needed a chair and plant to give it the feel of a reading room. The chair has canvas belts made from army surplus, a nod to Valentine’s service to this country.
A central curved staircase takes you up to four bedrooms leading off a walkway, with clerestory windows and each enjoying the balcony that runs the length of the upper level. A precision laser cut lamp uses tools once used on military aeroplanes ply skeletons.
Egypt End was one of the earliest uses of reinforced concrete in UK domestic architecture and would have been a lab for materials used in later buildings. For under 2 million we think it an absolute bargain and the ultimate party house. See it at themodernhouse.com.