The local planning officer had indicated that a traditional Sussex barn or a Wealden-style house would be favourably received, so Nick and Debbie spent a great deal of time investigating the options. “We decided that a barn-style house could actually feel quite dark, because this is such a densely wooded area, so we chose a Wealden-inspired property instead and then set about trying to find a specialist oak framing company to work with,” explains Debbie.
“We looked at all the major contenders, but when we met Tim Crump at Oakwrights, we immediately knew we’d found the right person — he’s so passionate about what he does. We saw the workshop and the precision of the frames, as well as visiting a number of their houses, and the quality was just so impressive.”
Determined to avoid a forest of intrusive upright timbers, which would break up the predominantly open plan living spaces, Nick and Debbie set the company a demanding challenge to design an oak frame with the bare minimum of upright structural supports. The front of the property boasts exposed oak timbering, jettied first floor rooms and traditional oak framed windows, with handmade clay roof tiles, handmade bricks imported from Belgium, authentic copper guttering and lead gargoyles.
Step inside the arched oak entrance door, however, and there are spacious, open plan areas with high ceilings which are filled with natural light and enjoy views over the garden through the extensive glazing. Two sets of oak French doors lead out from the heart of the house: a magnificent open plan kitchen/ breakfast room featuring hand-built cabinets, granite worktops, and a creamy yellow stone floor laid over underfloor heating—which extends into the open plan dining room. Beside the kitchen an enclosed staircase leads down to the extensive basement level, which offers additional space for such luxuries as a home cinema, walk-in wardrobes and an office, as well as numerous service areas such as a wetroom, utility, plant room and even a second kitchen.