Know About the New Inter-War Home in Britain

Our weekly series list, which has the difficult task of only putting a new house up for sale each week, can provoke heated debates here at Modern House headquarters. Every week, the members of our editorial team might be in favor of presenting this brilliantly original modernist townhouse as the quintessential list, others simply insist that it must be the converted warehouse apartment with a mid-century inspired interior. However, there was no debate this week – it just had to be Coombe Street. Find out why in the Film we shot here with the current owners of the house.

Coombe Street is a Grade II listed house designed in the early 1930s by Peter Harland for the British composer Sir Arthur Bliss, who composed music after a peaceful summer retreat. Unable to find an existing building that matched his modernist tendencies, he commissioned his friend and architect Harland to design one from scratch, and the resulting house was completed in 1935. It consists of a four-bedroom main house, a four-bedroom cottage and a separate music room, also Grade II listed, where Bliss worked on his compositions deep in the ancient woods that surround the house.

Almost 100 years after its completion, Coombe Street has survived in a beautiful original state thanks to its three caretaker owners. The curved windows and the steel frame glazing overlook the well-kept gardens of the dining room. The floor plan is as always, with many moments of transition between the interior and the exterior. The custom carpentry speaks of a Modern era when less was not necessarily more, a time when a few decorative frills were tolerated: see the built-in sculptural furniture, the oak and brick fireplace in the main living space and the tactility of the wood-lined walls.

And then there are the extensive gardens that are an integral part of the house experience. The site is located on an old quarry where green sand has been extracted since the Iron Age. Not as old, but still ripe, are the imposing native trees that throw light inside in the summer, while the lawns, the winding paths, the varied borders and the outdoor terraces offer moments for games, picnics, long summer lunches or maybe – like Bliss-exploit the forest studio-creative outlet.

All in all, Coombe Street is truly a masterpiece and, at least from our point of view, a serious contender for the best interwar house in the UK. As it approaches its centenary, while it is looking for new directors, the sale will mark a new chapter in the history of the house, of which we are very happy to be a part.

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