Caroline and Robert Diamond had always wanted a country escape. ‘Life in London was starting to feel so rushed,’ says Caroline, an interior designer. ‘Both of us have quite demanding jobs and felt we never seemed to have enough quality time with the children or for ourselves.’ So, in 2013, when a friend recommended that they take a look at the 650-acre Claydon Pike estate in Lechlade, Gloucestershire, they thought this might be a great retreat home option and sure enough they fell in love with its stunning lakes and sanctuary-like setting. The property was only a 90- minute commute from London, which they thought was very accessible and bought a plot on the spot.
The houses on the lake are made predominantly from glass and sustainable Russian Larch, which ages naturally over years. Yoo, the project developers working on the estate kept the look of each house similar in appearance and structure so they blend into the natural environment and surrounding lakes. Trees and shrubs are placed strategically so that each house has complete privacy and an uninterrupted view across the lake as the houses are only built on one side of each body of water.
‘It was very appealing for us to be able choose a plot of land and work with the Yoo team of architects and designers to customise the plans to suit our family lifestyle,’ says Caroline. ‘I wanted our retreat to feel very different in shape and size to our Richmond home, which has smaller rooms and traditional Victorian features.’ The spaces were opened up to give the rooms a more sociable feel and to showcase the incredible view. Creating an open-plan living space downstairs 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 were added along the whole length of the house on the ground and upper floor so its residents 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 the atmosphere for her family’s country home. She created different areas in the larger open-plan rooms using richly patterned feature wallpaper or furniture to subtly separate the room into zones for a different tone and cosy feel. The family room runs the whole length of the ground floor and is divided into three sections, yet the cool grey walls bind the whole room together and keep the continuity of the overall look. Her playful use of textures and colour is most prominent in the seating area of the living space. A palette of grey hues is mixed with matte black to give the living area a sophisticated appearance, while added splashes of yellow and turquoise in the accessories warm up the greys. A few key pieces of furniture in off-white add freshness and prevent the room from looking too dark. The combination of warm tones in the textured wallpaper, bold golden yellow in the chair and the dynamic matte black wood burner all work so well together because of the contrasting elements.
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 allow each piece to be a focal point in the room. A beautiful one-off circular table sits alongside the expanse of windows on the ground floor facing out onto the lake.
For Caroline less is more. ‘I never like to over-clutter a home with lots of soft furnishings and furniture as it gives no space to breathe 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 we can enjoy them and allow them to shine in their own right.’ Texture binds the whole look together to make the spaces feel relaxed and comfortable and now 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 children could play freely, enjoying nature,’ says Caroline. It’s such a safe environment and they disappear on their bikes with their friends and only come back for meals. Caroline and Robert get time to exercise or chill out on the decked balcony.
‘Living by the lake is so special, waking up to the mist on the lake 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 setting over the lake in the evening,’ she says. ‘What more can you ask for?’
The owners Interior designer Caroline Diamond and her husband Robert enjoy this country retreat home with their four children Max, Joel, Zac and Skyla.
The home This modern, sustainably-savvy home in Gloucestershire, UK, was built in 2013. It features an open plan living, dining and kitchen area, as well as a snug, utility room, five bedrooms and four bathrooms with uninterrupted views of the surrounding lakes.
Photography by Polly Eltes/Narratives
Get the look: