Behind The Schemes: Designing a 'best-in-class' country estate in Surrey

By PrimeResi Journal

How Louise Bradley and team came up with a suitably sophisticated interior scheme for a £28m country estate project

“Best-in-class” is one of those descriptions that’s bandied around a little more often than it should. But in the case of the Pickhurst Estate in Surrey – which sold over the Summer in one of 2018’s standout country deals – the billing is entirely justified.

Nestled in 130 acres of rolling countryside between Godalming and Haslemere, the Grade II* listed mansion was originally built by J.M. Brydon in the late 1880s in the style of Norman Shaw, and had been remodelled “to the highest of standards”.

Launched via Savills last year at OIEO £28m, the top-end proposition – which came complete with a shoot lodge, three further cottages, and a stable yard with planning for a “world-class” spa – was described by the agency’s Trevor Kearney as “the very best country estate that I have ever seen”. And he’s seen a lot of estates.

The original, late-Victorian-style centrepiece was much reduced in size in the 1950s when the service wing and internal courtyard were demolished after a fire, but Royalton’s reworking marked a return to former glory; the 21st century version came with six ensuite bedrooms and an array of grand entertaining rooms, including a music hall with minstrels gallery, a drawing room, family kitchen, internal courtyard, dining room, library and family sitting room, plus “extensive” wine storage (and tasting areas), a belvedere tower, and a home cinema.

Externally, the package included a number of additional estate buildings, together with formal gardens designed by Chelsea Flower Show award-winners Arabella Lennox-Boyd and Fiona Lawrenson, a swimming pool with pavilion, clay tennis court, pasture, woodland and an “enjoyable” family shoot.

South Kensington-based designer Louise Bradley, together with her team of interior architects, designers and furniture and accessories experts, created an entire interior scheme for the estate, from the main mansion, through the Lazy Cottage and the Shoot Lodge.

The firm has more than two decades’ experience in creating homes for international heads of state and royal families, and described the design as “respectful of the property’s history and its original features, while enriching it with a classic yet contemporary style…rich in detail, textures and the finest materials”.

Spec highlights included bespoke, handmade chinoiserie panels in the master bedroom, the finest bookmatched Italian stone in the bathrooms, and some “extraordinary” bronze surfaces in the kitchen and dining areas. Use of high-lacquer surfaces and rare finishes such as shagreen, applied generously in the dressing rooms and the private dining areas, added an extra level of luxury to the interiors.

Louise Bradley: “It’s a sophisticated property and an impressive country house. And whilst it’s an immaculate mansion – it has a comfortable family home at its centre.”

Key Spaces

The Kitchen

The kitchen, together with the dining area, is the heart family life at the estate. The bespoke kitchen was designed to offer ultimate functionality and to streamline the space. As a Grade II listed home, it was important to retain and integrate traditional elements within the design. The bespoke oak cabinetry with bronze finish to the doors combine with stone work surfaces and book-matched marble, while the decision to place the built in banquet seating within the bay window was designed to maximise the space whilst creating an informal family dining area that invites the outside in.

The Hallway

The entrance to the main house within the estate has undergone a complete transformation. Originally a dark, cold and typically traditional space, it was turned into a spacious, welcoming area from the moment you stepped into the home. This was achieved by opening up the space to the right of the entrance, into what used to be an uninteresting external courtyard, but was redesigned by as an orangery – protected from the weather and used throughout the year. The final design of the hallway was brought together by painting the dark panelling, replacing the floor with Portland stone, adding stunning stone architraves and a custom made fireplace. The furnishings and artwork was selected by Louise Bradley to finish this welcoming space.

The Master Bedroom

The master bedroom of the estate was designed to provide a comfortable and luxurious space for relaxation after busy days. This space was turned into a safe haven with bespoke wall panelling and hand-painted chinoiseries, a muted and controlled colour palette throughout as well as bespoke furniture design with undulating shapes and soft curves. The panelling with integrated fireplace and smart home audio visual allowed us to hide the TV from view behind beautiful artwork. The use of natural hues and expert layering of textures and materials, adds a final touch of warmth and comfort to this space.

In Pictures: The Full Tour