Inside St Albans' most expensive new home
PUBLISHED: 13:25 03 October 2017 | UPDATED: 13:25 03 October 2017
With meticulous attention to detail, luxury and class a new St Albans home is designed to be an ergonomic, future-proofed family home. At £6m, 53 The Park is the most expensive new build in the city
At £6m, number 53 The Park is the most expensive new house in St Albans. And at 10,000 sq ft, it’s also probably the largest.
Dozens of seasoned professionals in the housebuilding industry were treated to a guided tour of this seven bedroom home spread over four floors and in the final stages of completion. The general consensus was wow – it’s the most beautiful new property in the city. Where else in Hertfordshire can you find a newly built house that incorporates a car showroom, fully equipped cinema, fitness suite, eight en-suites... the list goes on – but more about these later.
Without digging out the paperwork, the home’s owner Paul Mair can’t remember exactly when he bought the plot, but says the house has taken him approximately four years to build. ‘I’ve built quite a few others over the years but this is the most ambitious – the largest by far,’ he adds.
Paul knew from the start that this residential haven in one of St Albans’ best roads – a crescent just off Faircross Way – would be a no-expense-spared venture. He has been passionate about it from day one. Even now the project has finished, his ardour hasn’t cooled.
Asked to define his job description, he gives it some thought, ‘I finance developments,’ he says. ‘I don’t build them myself. I have a capable builder who works for me, I’ve known him a long time.’
He is in no doubt about what he doesn’t want to create – rambling trophy homes as a display of wealth.
‘Often you walk into large modern houses and there are numerous rooms which seem to have no purpose other than to increase the number,’ he explains. ‘Every room here has a purpose. It’s a large house built to be enjoyed by a family, I didn’t build it just to be a trophy home. I designed it with curves, the rooms flow naturally from one to the other.’
There was a dated 1960s house on the site when he bought it. He hired an architect to get building consent for the plans, but the interior is solely down to him. Because of the idiosyncratic room shapes almost everything that’s gone into them is bespoke. Skirting boards had to be handmade on site to fit the curves and for the same reason a template was made for the coving in each space because no two are alike.
The house has eight reception rooms and seven bedrooms, and surprisingly, eight en-suites, that’s because the master bedroom has his and her bathrooms, as well as his and her dressing rooms fitted out accordingly.
Walking round this house with its designer you soon understand why it took ‘approximately four years to build.’
‘A huge lot of thought went into it,’ Paul says. He talks about how he visualised every aspect of every room being used by future owners. It’s easy to see where the time went. He’s done his damndest to ensure that at no point someone who lives here doesn’t wonder why an extra drawer, cupboard, shelf or door wasn’t fitted or feel they could make improvement to what’s there now. To the best of his knowledge, by trying to put himself in the mind of future occupants, he has covered every eventuality, right through to the most minute detail. For instance, the every day ergonomics of the property. In the kitchen, lined with Miele and Siemens appliances and bespoke units topped with quartz and solid wood, he pictured himself cooking and reaching out for utensils and has designed a place for them.
In his mind’s eye he can see friends and family piling into the kitchen, as the natural gathering point it was designed for. While in good weather, when the bi-fold doors are pushed back, husbands, wives, partners, children, you-name-it, will naturally gravitate onto the patio that forms an outdoor room leading to the garden. In winter, those not taking an active part in the preparation of the next meal can park themselves on the stools on the other side of the island or chat to the cook from a comfy seat on the upholstered L-shaped built-in bench a few steps back from the sharp end of the kitchen. Kids coming home from school in the afternoon can do their homework and afterwards watch television in the family room on the other side of the dividing wall in the open-plan living area. Paul has five children himself and fed that knowledge into how the rooms would pan out.
As fabulous as it is, the kitchen’s place as heart of the home is contested by the lower ground floor. As Paul points out, future owners will have no need to join a health club or even go to the local picture house to see a movie. ‘They have everything here fitted out to a professional standard.’
The below stairs set up is like a plush art house cinema – with its high quality surround sound, mood creating blue lighting, thick carpet and comfy seats and a screen positioned to provide a perfect viewing experience. There’s even a cocktail bar in the foyer before you take your seats. The only difference between here and the local cinema is the absence of a kiosk to buy tickets.
Also on the lower ground floor is a pilates-yoga studio and separate gym with his and hers changing rooms, steam room and juice bar.
‘Part of the ceiling in the gym has been reinforced with steel,’ Paul explains. ‘It could be the house will be owned by a boxer or someone who takes up boxing. The ceiling in the gym could take the weight of a punch bag.’
The largest space on the lower floor is what amounts to a car showroom – to call it a garage wouldn’t do it justice by a country mile. When it came to providing secure parking space, Paul pulled out all the stops. He installed a top of the range car lift, which, while cheekily playing the Thunderbirds theme tune, delivers car and driver from the front drive into the underground car park where there’s room for a collection of prized vehicles.
Such is his own enthusiasm for cars – especially classics – the developer inserted a viewing window in the layout of rooms on the lower ground floor so that when the owner and maybe a few chums pass by the garage en-route to the gym or cinema they can stop for a moment to gaze on perfection on four wheels.
Paul’s urge to equip this home with every imaginable luxury has extended to the garden where there’s a sauna hut and Jacuzzi, barbecue lodge, pergola with firepit and a children’s play area. ‘Even if the house is bought by a couple without children they’ll probably have friends or family with children and this will keep them happy,’ Paul says.
The garden has been fully landscaped, of course, with a full irrigation system to take care of watering.
‘I envisage – truly hope – this house will appeal to someone who has worked hard to get to the top of the tree,’ Paul sums up. ‘Perhaps a footballer from Arsenal up the road, a financier, a showbiz star. They’ll see this and think, “I’m going to give myself a treat, I deserve it”.’
Number 53 The Park is for sale through Cassidy and Tate at St Albans and Wheathampstead