Modern Homes: Farnham's Mid-Century Masterpiece

by Kate Burt in Interior designed homes

For fans of mid-century architects and designers such as Mies van der Rohe, Charles and Ray Eames, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, this four-bedroom modernist Surrey house will be the ultimate fantasy home.

All vast expanses of glass and solid natural stone (Indian slate, to be precise), it certainly ticks the boxes for me.

The property, at Gardener’s Hill, is close to ultra desirable Farnham, on the borders of Surrey and Hampshire – just about the perfect part of the commuter belt, where wild country walks combine with a short train trip into the capital. It is for sale with The Modern House estate agency, and designed by London-based architects Archplan.

The interior styling is pure 1950s as well: the floors are polished, flecked concrete, and many of the walls are finished with polished plaster, which gives a beautiful warm, softening effect while remaining true to the modernist aesthetics that the house draws on.

But it’s the glass that really takes centre stage (hence the property’s moniker, ‘the Glass House’): the floor-to-ceiling windows in every room make the most of the glorious gardens outside, and the woods beyond. The combination of all that crisp green lawn with the grey of the concrete and neutral walls makes for a stunning natural palette – with no need for paint colour cards.

There are four bedrooms, which all – luxuriously – have en-suite bathrooms (isn’t the sunken square marble bath incredible?) and there’s another potential (fifth) bedroom downstairs on the lower ground floor, next to a reception room and office.

I hope that whoever buys this beautiful place has a similar style sensibility to the current owners, who have softened the clean lines of the architecture by mixing newer pieces with a selection of gorgeously lived-in vintage furniture from the middle of the last century.

Furniture and homewares with a past can really take the edge off what could be a sterile space in insensitive hands. Don’t those flashes of buffed teak and battered leather look inviting?

And how about that reclaimed wood dining table for a slab of enticing history amid the sharp edges? I like how even the modern cream sofa gets a loose cover over the centre portion to rough it up a little. It’s a small detail but it makes a big difference to how welcoming and homely the space looks.

If you like this, check out another of Archplan’s glass dominated builds, also in Farnham: the commission for the house at Reed’s Wood was inspired by the property at Gardener’s Hill.

The houses are also reminiscent of the 1945-1966 built ‘Case Study’ houses in California, which were designed along with the likes of Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen and Richard Neutra. These were – in their day – a bold and experimental approach to architecture at the time. The idea was that these 36 prototypes would provide a blueprint for affordable residential builds in the post-war building boom. Their influence on architecture since has been immense. You can see some stunning photographs of them online, over at Taschen, which has published the book, Case Study Houses (£44.99), by Julius Shulman, Elizabeth AT Smith and Peter Gössel.

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