The '˜upside down' house that is a Sussex High Point
Chance conversations can lead to plenty of things but having your property designed by the architect behind the Burj Al Arab might not be one you would expect.
“The chance of that happening is zero,” agrees Loo Bartley, before explaining exactly how it happened.
“I am from South Africa and I took the family back to see where I used to live.
“We were near Cape Town and we got on a jeep for a safari where we met a lady who lived in Sussex,” she recalls.
“It turned out we knew lots of mutual friends but not each other, which in the middle of Africa was very strange.”
The conversation soon turned to Loo’s hopes for a New England style home – sparked, she says, by her love of verandas – on a plot in Cuckfield, West Sussex, and how the planning permission process wasn’t going well.
“She said ‘my husband is an architect, when we get back let me get him to look at the plot and see if he can help’.
“His name is Tom Wright and when he did visit he fell in love with it.”
Loo outlined what she would like and highlighted her passion for the ‘upside down’ homes, commonly found in Africa and Australia, due to the way they make the most of the views.
“I was expecting him to come back with a rectangle but it was this half circle which I loved,” Loo smiles.
“I suppose it was never going to be normal.”
Much like the views, the interior is breathtaking and captures your attention from the moment you walk in.
The open-plan space and clean lines mean there is nothing to distract you from enjoying the simply stylish, and purposefully easy living, design.
“I am a perfectionist, if you want it right you have to think of the finer details,” Loo insists. “I love the upstairs living area. It is great and the cinema room at night is brilliant.
“We wanted a pool table down there so I made the sofa lower so you can sit on the back of it and play.”
This exemplary level of detail is apparent throughout the five bedroom property, which took a year and a half to build and has been Loo’s home for a further two, from the elevated ceilings to the engineered oak flooring.
No matter your priorities, or should that be wish list, changes are you’ll find it has been answered here.
You name it – gym, dressing rooms, underfloor heating, wine cellar – it has got it.
As for a swimming pool you may ask? There is planning permission in place for that.
For some it will be the well-equipped utility room that appeals or the fact every bedroom has both private bathrooms and French doors to the garden.
With the latter tucked on the lower floor, above allows the kitchen, dining room and sitting room to run seemlessly into one another.
Even the striking exterior seems to morph into what the viewer wants to see, with it resembling a fort – albeit it a welcoming one – to some, while others liken it to a spaceship.
“It is my dream house,” Loo confesses. “The way this building is set out means it creates sections without you having to do anything.
“All you do is look at the view, that is what you do no matter what room you are in. It is an easy living house and it is lovely and bright, even on a dreary day.”
Perhaps it is this, or the fact the property draws inspiration from far flung shores, that means it oozes wanderlust.
However, Loo offers another reason too: “Tom designed cruise liners and when you go downstairs you can see that, it feels, to me, like you are in a boat.”
What else makes the home remarkable is that it is Loo’s first new build and, despite clearly being executed with confidence, seems a million miles from her old home which she describes as being ‘all beams and oak panels’.
“I’ve done a few refurbishments before at my own properties,” she reveals. “It is just something I enjoy doing – I don’t do it as a business but I might look into it.”
It certainly seems fate is nudging her in that direction as, not only did the project come about because of a chance conversation, finding the site also wasn’t exactly planned.
“I was in rented accommodation because I had sold my house and couldn’t find anything so I was driving around areas I like.
“Cuckfield is just a nice village and is really pretty, with nice pubs which you can walk to despite the fact we are rural,” she enthuses.
“Plus it is good for commuting. It used to take my husband less time from here to central London than when he lived in Ealing.
“I saw a sign up here for a rental property,” she continues. “I drove down the road and saw another property that looked like it needed some TLC and it was called High Point.”
That name, quite aptly, is now borne by the property which took its place.
High Point is on the market with Haywards International for a guide price of £3m.
To find out more call 01444 419140 or visit hamptons.co.uk.