Buy Of The Week: Esher

With rooms that can hold up to 100 people, this dramatic home is the ideal blend of stark minimalism and total luxury. Nick Lloyd Jones reports
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"Some people find it austere but we love the uncluttered simplicity of the design," says Tim Andrews, who bought a five-bedroom modernist house on the outskirts of Esher 17 years ago with his partner, Carole Tilleray. Its uncompromising box-like design and distinctive red façade of local Ockley brick is certainly eye-catching. "It's got what's known as 'kerb appeal'," says Tim, "which means people tend to stop their car when they're driving past to take a closer look."

Not that there is much traffic around as the house is tucked away down leafy Lakeside Drive cul-de-sac - a 1975 development of 16 large detached houses by the award-winning modernist architect Royston Summers. This occupies the grounds of a former stately home and is so named because it has a lake at its centre, where residents enjoy exclusive boating and fishing rights.

Tim and Carole love the area. "It's a fabulous location," says Tim. "Although we live in a wonderfully secluded spot, Esher town centre is just around the corner and you can be in central London within 20 minutes by train. It's been lovely for the children, too, with plenty of green spaces around and a great selection of local schools."

One of the things the couple have liked most about living here has been the sense of space. The house is set well back from the road in more than half-an-acre of its own grounds and is very private. "We can fit dozens of cars in the front drive and because all the houses in the development are spaced so far apart there's no need to worry about noise levels," says Tim. "It's a great place to have parties."

The generous proportions continue inside the house with more than 4,000sq ft of living space spread over two floors. The ground-floor reception rooms are enormous. "We can comfortably fit 100 people in the living room and seat more than 20 in the dining room," says Tim.

The couple have made the most of the space by avoiding clutter. Most of the walls in the downstairs reception rooms are still panelled in their original silk fabric coverings and wooden flooring has been installed throughout. Furniture and fittings have been kept to a minimum - rugs, a few Le Corbusier armchairs and stylish Italian tables plus simple louvre blinds for the vast windows.

One of the advantages of this approach is that the house is extremely low maintenance. "It is very easy to clean and there's not much that needs decorating," says Tim.

However, in spite of the minimalist décor, it is a comfortable house with notable concessions to luxury, including the 9m heated outdoor pool and sauna hut on the back terrace, as well as under-floor heating in the kitchen and in the three upstairs bathrooms.

Apart from its spaciousness, it is also a remarkably light-filled house. Its front is south facing and, because of the flat roof, no afternoon shadow is cast over the back garden and terrace. Inside, every room has at least one floor-to-ceiling window as well as benefiting from sunlight streaming in through a skylight on the galleried landing above the open-plan central stairwell.

The staircase itself is original and, along with the giant internal doors and most of the joinery, crafted from polished white Canadian maple. Many of the house's other original features have also been retained, such as the pool and the impressive fitted kitchen with its Poggenpohl units and mesmerising range of built-in appliances, including two full-size ovens, a freezer, fridge, gas hob and griddle, as well as a deep-fat fryer, plate warmer and waste disposal unit. "Even by today's standards, it's incredibly hi-tech," says Tim, "but it must have been jaw-droppingly sophisticated back in the 1970s."

Not all of the house's fixtures and fittings have stood the test of time so well, so Tim and Carole have not been afraid to make a few changes. In particular, they have replaced the rather clunky original lighting system with a far more up-to-date recessed one equipped with dimmers. They have also installed oak-plank flooring throughout the house as well as modernising the upstairs bathrooms. The en-suite one attached to the giant master bedroom is particularly impressive, with its dark slate flooring and dedicated wet-room area with jet sprays.

All of the fixtures and fittings here are by the top Italian designer Boffi. The couple say they will be particularly sad to leave behind the room's centre-piece - a free-standing bath crafted of resin-bonded crushed limestone. "We found it in a Paris showroom," says Tim. "It was hideously expensive but we decided that we just had to have it and ended up designing the entire bathroom around it."

Although the couple have enjoyed living in Lakeside Drive, they've now decided it's time to move on. "The children have all grown up and left school now," says Tim, "and the outdoor catering business Carole and I run only requires us to be in the UK for the summer months."

So they have bought a four-bedroom holiday home in the South of France - modernist again - where they plan to spend an increasing amount of their time while retaining a smaller UK base from where they can run their business.

"We're both in our mid-50s," says Tim, "and we've decided it's time to kick back, relax and enjoy life."

Get the spec

What's for sale: two-storey five-bedroom modernist house with three bathrooms, designed by the leading Seventies architect Royston Summers, that is part of a development of 16 homes around a lake in a secluded Surrey location on the outskirts of Esher town centre.

Serious kit: heated 9m outdoor swimming pool with adjoining sauna house; integral double garage; original fully fitted kitchen with Poggenpohl units and comprehensive range of built-in gadgets and appliances; original Canadian maple wooden staircase, joinery and fittings; upholstered silk wall panelling in the main reception rooms; all three bathrooms have been recently renovated

How big? 4,000 sq ft of living space and half-an-acre of garden.

Extras: surrounded by mature oak and cedar trees and enjoying exclusive fishing and boating rights on the adjacent lake.

Buy it: 10 Lakeside Drive, Esher, is for sale through Modern House (01420 520805 or www.themodernhouse.co.uk) for £1,350,000.

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