For Lindsey and Gordon Edwards, building their fantasy family home involved the transformation of a derelict five-acre former tree nursery site into a modernist retreat, with a multi-level 5,405sq ft house at its heart, inspired by architects Mies Van Der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright.
But the striking five-bedroom glass, cedar and sandstone home, in Oulton Heath in Staffordshire, didn’t just fulfil their wildest design dreams – it profoundly changed their lives, as well.
Creating a luxurious yet eco-friendly home for their three daughters – Georgia, now 18, Siena, 12, and Gigi, 11 – with every modern tech trick, was high on the Edwards’ agenda, but at the heart of the home’s design was accessibility to support Georgia, who was diagnosed with the rare genetic neurological condition Rett Syndrome at the age of five.
As her parents were told she would probably not be able to walk beyond the age of seven, bespoke ground-floor living space was designed for her, along with oversized doorways and wide walkways.
But The Edge, as they have named the home, proved to not just be practical, but incredibly healing as well.
‘On the day we moved into the house in 2013, Georgia said farewell to the daily panic attacks she had suffered from,’ Lindsey explains.
‘Her neurologist said this improvement could be due to the bright open spaces, natural light and views over green fields. We have always wanted to defy the odds, and have been determined to never let her stop trying.
‘Incredibly, Georgia has never needed to live downstairs, and last September she climbed the staircase on her own without my hand for the first time. It was a phenomenal moment.’
One-off, bespoke features were incorporated into the design. Sensing that the gentle sound of lapping water would help her feel calm, the Edwards installed an indoor swimming pool, which can be viewed through a glass wall in the kitchen.
‘Georgia is a fantastic swimmer, but I wanted to be able to see her. We were originally told that the type of wall we needed doesn’t exist, but we had one specially created and our design has since been used in a number of other houses.’
Lindsey’s steely commitment to perfection also meant that she felt compelled to change the floor plans for the house at the last minute – despite having spent years getting planning permission for this avant-garde build in a Green Belt area.
‘The pool complex was originally going to be at basement level, but I realised the day before the builders broke ground that having a pool here just wasn’t going to work for Georgia,’ she says. ‘Gordon agreed, and we started all over again.’
The 12-month build that followed has resulted in what Lindsey calls her ‘Alice in Wonderland design idea’.
Beyond the largely glazed exterior of The Edge, near the market town of Stone, between Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent, the flexible two-storey layout boasts a string of rooms opening directly onto terraces and balconies, providing jaw-dropping natural vantage points.
Look skywards in the vast central atrium and your eye is drawn to a suspended glass balustraded walkway above, or to the bespoke walnut and glass ‘floating’ staircase.
As well as the five luxurious en-suite bedrooms, there are two kitchens, a media room, wine room and home cinema, plus underfloor heating and Sonos sound throughout.
Sustainability was a key factor, with high-performance glazing, a ground source heat pump and two mechanical ventilation heat-recovery systems upping the eco-cred.
Remarkable, really, that it’s the result of sketched floorplans drawn up by Lindsey and Gordon one winter’s evening – and all the more remarkable that it was project-managed by Lindsey, when her children were all under the age of eight.
Lindsey left her job as head of operations in retail banking to care for them, and research treatments for Georgia’s condition, and decided to apply her expertise in planning, risk management and budgeting to the home.
Having bought the overgrown plot for around £520,000 in 2009, and with a build budget of £1million, they hired Manchester-based architecture and design practice The Cave to make their dream home a reality.
During building work, which began in March 2012, the family moved three times, the girls often sharing a cramped bedroom, but always within walking distance.
‘I was on site every day, and the pressure was on,’ Lindsey says. ‘The builders were fabulous, though I think I was really hard on them about taking coffee breaks.’
Their incredible neighbours, too, says Lindsey, were a lifeline.
‘The planning department received 15 letters of support from them,’ she adds. ‘And they would often pop on site and give me practical advice whenever I became downhearted about the scale of the project.’
She says it is hard to name her favourite space in the house, where a hard-edged contemporary look is softened with velvet Made.com furniture, sheepskin throws and artwork by Cornish seascape specialist Nina Brooke.
The split-level sitting room, with full-length glazed wall and double-aspect sandstone fireplace, is great for lounging, but sitting out on the master bedroom terrace with a glass of wine, or having a pool party with the whole family is hard to beat, she suggests.
‘The Edge has been such a wonderful home, and we have so many special memories of parties here,’ Lindsey says, ‘singing around the piano on Christmas Eve, or hosting the girls’ friends for junior dinner parties and sleepovers.’
With Siena and Gigi now away at boarding school, however, and Georgia thriving in a residential setting with five other young students, the Edwards are now looking to sell up, for £2.35 million.
But the home’s design has been such a success, they are now planning to replicate it, in Gloucestershire.
‘We have reserved a new building plot and are excited to start work again,’ Lindsey says.
‘We are also buying a cottage nearer to Georgia so that we can keep close to her progress.’
Lindsey insists that she’ll be letting someone else project manage the build this time. You can guarantee, however, she’ll be on site regularly, making sure all the family’s needs are met for the next chapter of their lives.
The Edge is for sale with Fisher German.
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