Caroline and Robert Diamond have crafted the perfect lakeside escape from their busy lives in London. Modern, chic open spaces capture the stunning views while cosy corners are perfect for relaxing family moments.
Caroline and Robert Diamond had always wanted a country escape. “Life in London was starting to feel so rushed,” says Caroline. “Both of us have quite demanding jobs and felt we never seemed to have enough quality time with the children or time to ourselves.”
So, when two friends of theirs recommended that they take a look at the 850 acre Claydon Pike estate in Gloucestershire in 2013, they instantly fell in love with its freshwater lakes, woodland and stunning beauty. The fact that it was only ninety minutes out of London felt so accessible that they snapped up the opportunity to buy a plot in an instant.
The houses there are made predominantly from glass and sustainable Russian Larch, which ages naturally over years. The project developers working on the estate have kept the look of each house similar in appearance and structure so they blend within the environment and lakes. Trees and shrubs are so well placed that each house has complete privacy and uninterrupted views across the lake. And as the houses are only built on one side of each lake there is a great sense of privacy for each property.
“It was very appealing for us to be able to choose a plot of land beside one of the four lakes and work with the architects and designers. We customised the plans so they suited our family lifestyle,” says Caroline.
“I wanted our retreat to feel very different in shape and size to our Richmond house, which has smaller rooms and traditional Victorian features,” says Caroline. With this in mind the spaces in the retreat were opened up to give the rooms a more sociable feel and also to showcase the incredible view. Creating an open-plan living space down stairs meant the Diamonds could be in one room together doing things independently or interacting together as a family. Caroline also added an extra floor for the master bedroom with en suite bathroom, which almost feels like a private apartment separate from the main house. Balconies the whole length of the house were also added on the ground and upper floor so you can walk right out over the lake.
The whole build took seven months in total to complete, assembled in a factory in Slovenia and then brought over to the UK to be completed.
Caroline used her interior design expertise to create different zones in the larger open-plan rooms, such as the master bedroom and en suite bathroom, by using richly patterned feature wallpaper. She also used well-planed furniture layouts and units to divide up each section of the living space. Some key furniture pieces with unusual features have been added throughout her home to create character and personality, although on the whole the look is pared back, simple and elegant.
For Caroline less is more. “I never like to over clutter a home with lots of soft furnishings and furniture as it gives nothing space to breath, and with my four children running around it’s just not practical. I love well designed furniture and soft furnishings but in smaller amounts so you can enjoy them and allow them to shine in their own right.” Texture binds the whole look together to make her home feel relaxed and comfortable.
Now the work is predominantly finished the family like to spend as much time as possible in their country home.
“It’s the best thing we’ve ever done buying this house. We wanted a place in the country where our four children, Max, Joel, Zac and Skyla could play freely in a Swallows and Amazons style,” says Caroline. It’s such a safe environment Caroline lets them disappear on their bikes with their friends and walkie-talkies. “They come back for meals when they are hungry,” she laughs. And unlike in their rushed and busy London life, Caroline and Robert get time to exercise or simply chill out on the decked balcony.
“Living by the lake is so special,” says Caroline. “Waking up to the mist in the morning, feeding the swans and the ducks at breakfast, watching the fish jump out of the water during the day and the sun set over the lake in the evening – what more could you ask for?”
The warm wooden exterior made from Russian Larch and floor to ceiling glass blends in beautifully within the spectacular landscape and lake. Looking across the lake you can see a whole variety of trees and wildlife such as swans, geese, heron and coot. Wooden decking runs the whole length of the balcony. It is slightly cooler in tone to the house itself and the pattern is laid in a plank like fashion so there is subtle differences to both sections of the house. A generously shaped all-weather lounger in a straw coloured rattan is a simple yet luxurious finish to the look.
FAMILY ROOM – LIVING AREA
A palette of mellow grey and brown is mixed with matt black to give the living area a sophisticated appearance. Caroline has added splashes of yellow and turquoise in the accessories to warm up the greys and a few key pieces of furniture in off-white add freshness and prevent it looking too dark.
Caroline’s playfulness with textures and colour is really prominent in the seating area of the living space. The combination of warm tones in the wallpaper, bold golden yellow in the chair and the dynamic matt black wood burner all work so well together because of the contrasting elements.
Caroline has kept the wood theme running throughout the house; a solid wood chair made from a whole tree trunk sits next to the generously sized wood burner filled with neatly stacked logs around its base. Both the logs and the chair give off a rich warm glow against the backdrop of mellow grey and brown walls.
A shelving unit backed with mirrors adds yet another wonderful texture to the room scheme. A display of personal as well as quirky accessories dotted amongst the shelves adds character and personality. The bottom of the unit is fitted with doors to store family clutter out of sight.
The family room runs the whole length of the ground floor and is divided into three sections, each of which has been subtly divided up into designated areas. The sofa layout is used as a division to the living room, tongue and groove flooring divides the dining section and a food prep and breakfast bar and island designates the kitchen area. The cool grey walls bind the whole room together and keep the continuity of the overall look.
FAMILY ROOM – DINING AREA
The dark blue wall and seating area as well as the giant wire lamp anchor the whole dining section together in the living space. A modern handmade solid oak wood table has been placed across the width of the room giving plenty of room to move around the table and traditional country style chairs add a modern country twist to the look.
FAMILY ROOM – KITCHEN AREA
Caroline has kept her self designed kitchen layout very simple in style and free of clutter as it’s on show to the rest of the large living area. A streamlined wall of cupboards house tableware, linen and food. The long breakfast bar has seating at the front and a food prep and cooking section at the back making it a very practical and sociable space.
Although the kitchen design is simple, Caroline has added tactile work surfaces and reflective tiles to give the streamlined cupboards and work areas substance and interest.
The breakfast bar and cooking area means that cooking can be done while socialising with family and friends. Cupboards are designed to fit various pots and pans and there’s a good-sized work surface, which makes everything very easy and convenient to prep and cook.
A beautiful one-off circular table sits alongside the expanse of windows facing out onto the lake. Caroline likes to buy a few key furniture pieces for each room to break up the simple lines of the living space as well as allowing each piece to be a focal point in the room.
The hallway has been kept simple and streamlined. A pale grey lines the walls and a darker toned grey carpet gives the walkway a practical look.
Caroline’s created a cosy seating area in the master bedroom with modular seating running across the back of the room. The back wall is covered in limed oak planking which gives a lovely warm feel to the room and she’s added a shaggy grey rug for extra comfort. Plum and turquoise velvet cushions and sheepskins make the seating area feel warm and inviting especially in the colder months.
The bedroom is minimally designed but decorative and special in its look. An elegant turquoise velvet bed and delicate cloud wallpaper are the key focal points of the room with everything else blending harmoniously within the room.
The bedroom feels like an apartment in its own right set on the top floor with its own decked balcony with similar traits in layout to the living space downstairs. The log burner is lovely during autumn and winter and is a haven to escape to after a busy day walking with the family.
An eye catching tree wallpaper has been hung on one wall in the bathroom to give the room a unique appearance. It gives the modern bath and sink unit an organic finish and prevents it looking too clinical.
The large mirror above the sink unit reflects the elegant tree wallpaper on the opposite wall and also adds gleam and shine to the room.
The freestanding double sink unit is neat and compact, the sinks echoing the shape of the bath and the grey storage unit below is functional and minimal in style. A large frosted glass window with a tree image is set next to the bath for privacy.
The guest bathroom has been given a chic hotel look with its diagonal textured stripe tiles, angular towel rail and washbasin. Warm sandy colour tones tie in with the bedroom’s colour scheme.
A gentle pallet of the palest grey on the walls and soft white furniture makes a lovely calming scheme for Skyla’s bedroom. A rattan pendant shade and wooden sheep rocker bring in a few warmer, earthier elements to the room.
Although the room does have quite a sophisticated colour and texture, bold printed accessories such as the animal print cushions on the bed add childish charm to the room.
Skyla’s bedroom has a bunk bed that fits snuggly alongside one of the walls of the room for when friends and family come to stay. The shape and colour blend in well with the rest of the room.
Patterns in subtle tones of gold and grey are dominant features in the guest bedroom. A feature wall filled with a tree print echoes the house’s surrounding landscape and a contrasting harlequin design on the modern sleigh bed adds a unique, contrasting feature to the room.
Caroline’s keen eye for unique furniture such as the retro look writing desk gives the guest bedroom an interesting focal point. The chair she’s chosen is influenced by a similar era to the desks design; the rush seat tying in with the colour of the wooden desk.
- THE OWNERS Caroline and Robert Diamond live with their four children Max, Joel, Zac and Skyla
- THE PROPERTY Modern detached sustainably built home, built and purchased in 2013
- LOCATION Lechlade, Gloucestershire
- ROOMS Open plan family room consisting of living, dining and kitchen area, snug, utility room, five bedrooms, two en suite bathrooms and two other bathrooms
Photos: Polly Eltes/Narratives Text: Sian Williams/Narratives