Party Planning

Sharon Chilcott

Sharon Chilcott

Sharon Chilcott takes a tour of a purpose-built family home set on a hillside in the Usk Valley and enjoying captivating countryside views.

When Pat Daviss and her husband Alan set about designing their own home back in the mid-eighties, top of their agenda was the need for it to provide great entertaining space.

“Alan was a member of the Cwmbran Round Table and I was in the Ladies’ Circle and we used to entertain a lot,” says Pat. “At the time we lived in a cul-de-sac in Caerleon, where I was conscious of the neighbours and the fact that, late at night, guests might not leave as quietly as we’d want them to!

“I also felt hemmed in and wanted space, so when this plot of land came up for auction I knew it would be wonderful!”

Pat and her husband, Alan, moved to South Wales from Scotland in the 1970s and this was to be their third self-build in the area. First time round, Pat feels they didn’t get the design quite right. “It’s only when you live in a house that you realise that you would have done things differently.” By their second house, though, they had a clear vision and had found a trusted architect.

Having succeeded in buying this plot in the pretty village of Llanhennock, just under two miles from Caerleon, Pat and Alan employed the same architect to draw up the plans. The result is a large, well laid-out, six-bedroom property with spacious reception rooms, the main ones opening to outside terraces that give stunning views over the beautifully landscaped garden to the rolling Monmouthshire hills. It even has a fabulous snooker room complete with a full-size snooker table, plush, burgundy velvet banquettes and a corner bar. “We have had some lovely, memorable parties in this house,” Pat reminisces, recalling times they had such a crowd that she covered the snooker table over and used it to serve the food from.

The way the property has been designed makes a hero of the view and takes advantage of the lovely surroundings. The outside space is particularly stunning, with terraced areas on separate levels providing different outlooks on the ever-changing seasonal vistas. There’s a dining area outside the kitchen with bench seating and an inbuilt barbeque, a sun-trap terrace outside the living room and a terrace on a lower level, set slightly apart from the house and giving a feeling of immersion in the surrounding gardens and views.

“I wanted the garden to be done as the house was being built, rather than living on a building site. Once it was done, it was all done, so I didn’t have muddy footprints everywhere,” recalls Pat. The couple employed a garden designer to plan the outside space, which extends to some two thirds of an acre. Pat remembers that it was Alan who had the most say in the garden. “I don’t know anything about gardens. We had an understanding. I would deal with the inside and he would deal with the outside.”

The couple wanted an easy space to maintain, so there are neat borders filled with a wide variety of now well-established shrubs and trees, with lawned areas to the front and back and the property’s privacy enhanced by trees and hedges. “The only flowers are daffodils – we had about 300 bulbs scattered around and they are a picture in Spring,” says Pat.

Inside, the property’s design gives a feeling of space, enhanced by a split-level reception hall and a galleried upstairs landing, each large enough to accommodate occasional seating. Downstairs, tall windows along the back of the house let in lots of light and make the most of the lovely outlook. Most of the main rooms are laid out on this side of the house, to benefit from the views. There’s a kitchen/ diner, opening to the barbeque terrace; a TV room next door and then down through the reception hall there’s a sitting room and the snooker room alongside, both with doors opening to a lower terrace. The downstairs accommodation is completed by a dining room, study and utility room, all looking over the front of the house where there’s a large tarmac driveway, a turning area around an attractive circular brick planted feature and a double carport and double garage to one side.

Downstairs there’s also an annexe, with a living room facing the back of the property and benefiting from its own private terrace. There’s a small kitchen, bedroom and a Jack and Jill shower room with a secondary door to the main lobby so it can be used as a facility for the main house, which also has its own downstairs cloakroom. “Originally, the annexe was going to be a home gym, but then Alan decided it might be useful as a granny flat or for one of the children if they wanted their independence,” says Pat. “In fact, our middle son moved away and then he did come back and use the annexe, although he still wanted to sleep in his old room in the house!”

As she continues her tour round the house, one thing that stands out is the amount of storage space; there’s even a room that opens directly to the garden, designed to hide away the patio furniture. “Yes, that’s one of the learning points from designing our previous houses,” she says, showing off a small downstairs boot room, two large storage cupboards in the dining area which opens from the built-in kitchen and a hall cupboard.

Upstairs, off the galleried landing, there are two double bedrooms and a master suite, all with views to the back of the house. A fourth double bedroom with an en-suite overlooks the front of the house, and there’s a family bathroom alongside this and another double bedroom beside that. The approach to plenty of storage space continues up here, with doors on the landing opening to not one but two airing cupboards and a large double cupboard.

“It ended up being a lovely family house and great for entertaining,” says Pat, who remembers moving in with their three, now adult, children when the youngest was just eight. Since then, she has particularly come to appreciate the views and the peacefulness and privacy of her surroundings. The room she has grown to enjoy most is the sitting room. “It’s a big room with an open coal fire and on winter afternoons it’s a serene place to sit and listen to music. In the summer, it’s lovely to throw open the doors to the terrace.”

These are the aspects she thinks it will be hardest to replicate in her search for a new property, now that she has decided: “I’d love the house to be used as a family home again.”

Get the Look

This round slate mat on the table in the sitting room is from Salt and Pepper Cook Shop, 31-33 Monnow Street, Monmouth 01600 719339 www.saltandpepper.co.uk

Get the Lifestyle

The Gables, Llanhennock in the Usk Valley is on the market for £940,000 with Roscoe Rogers and Knight, 3, Agincourt Square, Monmouth 01600 772929 www.roscoerogersandknight.co.uk