Soaring Tudor chimneys and beamed ceilings teamed with state-of-the-art home tech, eel-skin wallpaper, self-cleaning loos and lashings of faux fur aren’t the most obvious of bedfellows.
But at the Grade II-listed Old Dairy Farm, in the quaint Kentish village of Crockham Hill, original 15th-century features have been married with an uber-glam decorative scheme fit more for a Premier League footballer than a milkmaid.
The five en suite-bedroom home, which sprawls over 6,822 sq ft of living space, has hit the sales market for £5m, with the price tag including well over £1m worth of furniture, fixtures and fittings – many of which are one-offs.
The extraordinary fit-out is the vision of its 60-something owner, Philip Slade Betts, whose career in the high-spec building trade, and travels to boutique hotels all over the globe, inspired him to create something out of this world.
‘I wanted The Old Dairy Farm to be the ultimate in luxury, using only the finest, even rarest, fittings and materials,’ says Philip, who shares the four-storey home, 12 miles from the M25, with wife Debbie.
‘It had to be a house for people that want the best of the best, so I’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure you wouldn’t find a lot of the décor anywhere else.’
The house may have a perfectly rustic red-brick exterior, leaded windows, several fireplaces and even a priest’s hole, but you can forget draughty spaces, chintzy curtains, saggy-bottomed sofas and horse brass hangings.
Instead, you’ll find underfloor heating, immense hydraulically operated Venetian crystal chandeliers, bespoke furniture and hand-painted de Gournay wall coverings.
On the ground floor, in the vaulted-ceilinged Great Hall, where once the sound of lutes and flutes would have floated from the original wooden minstrels’ gallery, music is today provided by a high-tech home sound and automation system (also controlling security gates, blinds and lighting) via speakers hidden in the walls.
‘When I first bought the house back in the late 1980s with my parents, it was pretty traditionally styled,’ says Philip, who helped care for his mother, who had multiple sclerosis.
‘It has only been over the last decade, and since my parents passed away, that I have embarked on such an ambitious scheme. I have really focused on the theme of transition, and then tied every section of the house together through colours, materials and textures.’
The stunning home, which Philip completed in 2014 after a five-year, multimillion-pound project, is made up of several parts representing past, present and future. The main body of the original Tudor structure is juxtaposed with a contemporary, glass-walled extension. Lying between the two, in terms of both floor plans and style, is the kitchen – ‘traditional with a twist,’ says Philip – with the basement harnessing more avant-garde designs.
The two upper floors are inspired by timeless luxury: five sumptuously decked out bedrooms are in seven-star hotel style (think silk carpets, velvet-padded and bronzed-metal wardrobes and a dressing room worthy of a supermodel).
Every inch of the interiors, however, is a showstopper, evident from when you first step into the reception hall: it’s decked out with Venetian crushed marble on the ceiling and walls, hand-blocked antiqued wallpaper embossed with silver and gold leaf, and a crystal chandelier.
The kitchen – designed by the late Mark Wilkinson, who counted Michel Roux and Elton John among his clients – has Gaggenau appliances and the obligatory AGA range cooker, plus Belgian blue limestone fossil-studded flooring. Bar stools created by Italian car makers Pininfarina and alligator skin-patterned silk curtains add contemporary twists.
Head down to the basement via the aluminium-cast, glass-tread, underlit staircase, however, and you take a leap into the future.
Here, the bespoke wine cellar holds vintage bottles displayed on a chrome wall rod that was designed in New York, above matt black mosaic floor tiling, with a silver-mirrored ceiling above.
Next, a plush cinema room with moving walls panels and an acoustically treated black stretch ceiling system provides the ultimate movie-going experience.
Outside, the five acres of formal gardens and grounds contain award-winning designs you might expect to find surrounding a National Trust pile. Award-winning landscape designer Roger Platts has added vibrant flower-beds to large areas of manicured lawn, as well as specimen shrubs, topiary and box hedges.
So why on earth is Philip selling up? ‘We want to downsize, and be nearer our children and grandchildren,’ he says. ‘It’s time for the home to belong to someone else who loves the ultimate luxuries in life.’ Only hedonists, then, need apply.
The house is being listed for £5m on johndwood.co.uk
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