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1st Apr 2020

Isolation…or blissful seclusion?

Interior Designer Lara Clarke has ensured that anyone lucky enough to be holed up at Asher House, a recent top to toe Barr Group renovation, would unequivocally claim the latter.

Most of us are taking a little more notice of the finer details of our homes right now – for good and for bad. Spring sunshine is good for the soul but it does tend to highlight the imperfections, leading to endless mental notes of what needs sprucing up.

This, however, is not the case at Asher House. Every single inch of this stone and brick Oxfordshire hideaway has been carefully considered. Working closely with Lara Clarke, the StuartBarr CDR team led by Site Manager Pete Olliffe steered the build and detailed finishing schedule of this project to the last brush stroke and fixing. BarrKitchens and BarrJoinery also played a major role  with the manufacture, fit and finish of a whole house of made to measure cabinetry and joinery. Structural plans and contracts administration were by HollandGreen Architects.

Lara, in her refreshingly calm, unflappable way, made this hugely detailed project seem incredibly straightforward. After graduating from KLC, Lara worked with a niche, high-profile international design house and a major high-end luxury developer. As such she is well-practiced, not just in producing client-focused designs, but also clear, well-defined specifications… a joy for a design-led construction company like the Barr Group.

We asked some of the Barr Group team involved in the project to share their favourite nooks and here is the shortlist:

1) The kitchen - delightfully in keeping with the rest of the property, follows a restful traditional design. Inset door panels stick strictly to a flat frame shaker script, with just the lightest touch of mouldings to the cooker hood and plinth top. A classic stainless steel Laconche oven, with its distinctive four-prong control bar, mirrors the brass tap set opposite and the inset American fridge freezer below. At the dining end of the kitchen, a double pantry faces a stand-alone glazed dresser style piece, which is scribed to the wall for the perfect fit. The island is clad with an in-frame tongue and groove detail and in-built shelving. The soft green-grey pantone in a hand-painted finish contrasts with the stark white Caesarstone worktops.


2) The Snug - has a cosy corner for everyone. What could make a space more inviting than old beams, original stone walls and features like this little aperture with a mirror inset and its exposed old timber lintel… well, a sofa that you can sink into and some warm inset lighting in this case. The Cottage Snug literally hugs one in!

3) The Games Room is a true grown-up play space. It has its own bar complete with made to measure drinks cabinet, bar stools, open fire and pool table - the ultimate evening getaway. We may be missing our local village pubs or city bars but Asher House residents certainly have the next best thing! Recruit a family member and escape for a whiskey or G&T!

4) Equally special is the childrens play space, situated right next to the kitchen – away from the melee but close to the main hub. A place where toys can be delightfully strewn without being in the way, furnishings are sized for the comfort of little legs and storage keeps messy play items away from little hands!

5) The Master Bedroom has gone from dark and lifeless to airy and inviting thanks to HollandGreen Architects’ remodeling. Vaulting the ceiling of this gable end room has transformed the space. BarrJoinery used white oiled oak to build tailor-made wardrobes and laddered loft access. The floor to ceiling cabinetry not only maximises storage but also provides an entire seamless feature wall. In addition, Lara designed an innovative upholstered TV solution for the foot on the four postered master bed.


6) The Master Ensuite, cleverly designed around a stone feature wall so that the roll-top bath sits within the room - but the WC and shower remain hidden from view. Exposed beams and statement lighing finish the look.


7) Last but by no means least are the guestrooms... where, in one, made to measure paneling allows build-in twin wardrobes to belong in the space, whilst providing an enclave and headboard for a cosy double guest bed. Or where a whitewashed tongue and groove cladding, with blended made to measure cabinetry, offers a calming 'by the sea' vibe. We would love to be isolating at Asher for another?


Explore the rest of Asher House, including its wonderful rustic pool house here.

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