Nestled within the serene and captivating landscape of the South Downs National Park, lies a magnificent property boasting 20 acres of private land, encompassing rolling fields, wildflower meadows, fertile agricultural expanses, and protected forests.
This architectural masterpiece is the brainchild of Robin Lee with Nadim Khattar, who artfully combined a C17 thatched-roofed farmhouse with a C19 barn, elevating the plot with intersecting walkways that connect bedrooms and living rooms.
This extraordinary home, our most thrilling property staging venture to date, spans over an impressive 8000 square feet. Awe-inspiring in every aspect, it allows its occupants to traverse seamlessly between the historic farmhouse and the modern barn through interlocking corridors, providing uninterrupted views of the surrounding nature through expansive windows that double as captivating art pieces.
As you step inside, a quaint entrance greets you—a cozy space crafted from flint and red brick, which exudes a sense of warmth and history.
We instantly saw how the original farmhouse fireplace could have originally been used for cooking and baking and added some nostalgia with a baker’s paddle, and a couple of battered up Club chairs that would give visitors the feeling of returning from a leisurely walk to the scent of freshly baked bread as they kicked off their boots.
We imagined the kind of person who might live here and how they would occupy the space to have the best experience, setting out to make it a comfortable place to live in without taking away from the historic and contemporary detailing that makes your heart leap as you walk through the space.
The main corridor, intentionally kept minimalistic, invited visitors to admire the wooden ceilings reminiscent of le Corbusier’s concrete monocoque and bask in the soothing embrace of wood as they strolled along, all while being treated to picturesque views of the lush greenery outside.
While we first sought to break up the space with art or plants we decided instead to give it more of a cigar box feel, like opening up a humidor to the perfect Cuban cigar inside. We likened the blank spaces between the buildings to the serene white spaces in Japanese magazines, providing moments of respite and contemplation as one transitioned into the contemporary living areas. Embracing the heritage of the property.
Nadim enlisted the expertise of local craftsmen to restore as many original features as possible, and we sought to mirror this reverence to craftsmanship by mixing select midcentury pieces and furniture already present in the house with some pieces from one of our favourite craftspeople. Ben Fowler’s roundwood tallboard above crafted in ash and walnut with its turned white oak legs worked perfectly at the end of a corridor where doors lead off into bedrooms.
We divided the living space into two distinct areas, envisioning the potential for couples to have separate working spaces or for children and parents to claim their own corners. Flexibility was the key, with options ranging from creating two libraries for avid readers, to gathering around the fireplace as a central hub for communal activities. We wanted visitors to imagine themselves effortlessly moulding the space to suit their desires. We dotted Fowler’s Manx tables through the main sitting room and added a C20 Grasshopper chair for reading by the contemporary fireplace. The idea for this was you could turn said Grasshopper into the room or towards the windows depending on which view you wanted to take in.
At the end of the room two Alistair Grant paintings from Emma Mason Gallery in Eastbourne were employed to break up the wood and pull the eye back through the space. Born in London, Alistair Grant would become an integral part of the midcentury art scene in London after spending most of his childhood in France. A highly regarded experimental printmaker and painter, he worked in the printmaking department of the RCA for 35 years (1955-90), and was Head of Department 1970 -1990. From the 1960s his work became increasingly abstract. His prints and paintings show colours, forms and hints of landscape that evoke his love for the Normandy coast in France. Using shape and colour, there are recurring themes of children flying kites, fishing boats, the sand dunes, beach balls, and the sea.
Within the barn area a spacious kitchen flows seamlessly into a sitting room, providing an ideal setting for family playtime or entertaining guests while preparing meals. The versatility of the property sparks visions of a writer, avid reader, influencer or music producer seeking solitude amidst nature, yet having ample space to host colleagues and friends in style.
Throughout the interior, we played with colour and texture, using midcentury pieces to act as exclamation marks convey the eclectic yet tasteful preferences of its imagined inhabitant. Drawing inspiration from the timeless black and white aesthetic of the farmhouse and the inviting warm hues of the modern extension, we curated a collection of furnishings and accents to complement the space.
Shortlisted for the prestigious RIBA regional award and recently nominated for a further architectural and industry award, this remarkable development stands as a testament to skilled craftsmanship and the seamless fusion of old and new within an idyllic setting. Working on this project was an absolute delight, keeping us suitably inspired for future stagings.
For Alistair Grant Paintings and Prints: emmamason.co.uk/a/alistair-grant alistairgrant.org
See Grant’s paintings and prints to show on Emma Mason’s stand at British Art Fair 28th September – 1st October 2023 at Saatchi Gallery, London. britishartfair.co.uk
For Ben Fowler and Marque Sussex: marquesussex.co.uk
Photos: c The Modern House
Photographer: Dan Glasser at danglasser.com
Stylists: Lucy Ryder Richardson and Petra Curtis modernshowspropertystaging.com
For anyone seeking help in styling their property, whether it’s with existing pieces, empty spaces, or a combination of both, we are here to cater to your unique project needs. Drawing from our vast archive of pieces and a broad network of dealers and designers, honed over 20 years of hosting Midcentury Modern® fairs, we offer tailored solutions that will elevate your space to its fullest potential. Get in touch with us at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, and let us weave magic into your living spaces. We also extend our services to developers and clients showcasing their properties on Inigo.com.