Downsize, but don’t settle for less
It’s funny how it suddenly happens. You spend large parts of your life struggling to buy bigger houses, to accommodate your children and your ambitions. Then just as you reach your 50s, your children leave home, and you are living in a home that is two or three times bigger than you need.
At which point, you can do one of two things. Either carry on regardless, frantically employing a cleaner to tidy up rooms in which no one sleeps, except perhaps at Christmas and the odd weekend. Or you have a long, hard look at your present home, and decide to sell up and move somewhere smaller.
Of the two options, the latter is a lot harder. Selling up a place so full of memories is a painful process. That said, there is no rule which says you have to move to a place which is less comfortable and the size of a cardboard box.
Developer Ray Tod, managing director of the Halebourne Group, specialises in building homes that enable you to fill that children-sized gap, but don’t make you suddenly feel old.
Far from cramming empty nest parents into tiny flats where you can hear slippered feet crossing the floor above, he has come up with a better idea – creating apartments that have the feel of houses but are actually part of a mansion block.
His latest scheme, The Ridge, is a group of 10 large apartments and penthouses in Sunningdale, near Ascot in Surrey. This area is known for its leafy lanes and huge mansions hidden behind foreboding gates, and was once home to Dame Agatha Christie. The development is just a three-minute walk from Sunningdale Station ( journey time to Waterloo: 50 minutes).
These handsomely proportioned places are near Wentworth Country Club, and opposite the famous Sunningdale golf club, with its two 18hole courses.
James Wyatt, partner of local estate agency Barton Wyatt, says the flats are “the most fabulous opportunity for keen golfers to own their own tee-side seat at Sunningdale.”
The apartments are filled with light; all have bifold doors that open out on to sunny gardens or balconies, blending outdoors and in. Downsizing doesn’t have to mean skimping on style or tech, and these homes are filled with cutting edge gadgets such as a remote controlled audio-visual system, underfloor heating and an instant hot water tap.
But it doesn’t come cheap: you get a two-bedroomed apartment with three balconies for £2 million, or a threebedroomed penthouse (with views over half the county) for £2.95 million.
Each apartment gets two underground parking spaces, and there is a concierge service and communal landscaped gardents as well.
“What we have aimed to do is create something that wasn’t already on the market,” says Tod, who began his construction career with wellknown names including Berkeley and Gleeson Homes.
And while it was felt that the odd spare room might be handy if anyone came to stay, the emphasis in building these homes was that they should provide luxury and comfort for the full-time owners.
“These are places for people who are downsizing but don’t want to feel they are having to settle for something less than they are used to,” says Tod.
Stylish apartments deliver space and services, says Christopher Middleton
High ceilings and a handsome outlook in The Ridge apartments, Sunningdale