Canadian-British writer and author Rachel Cusk has put her English contemporary coastal home on the market for $2.7 million.
The 4-bedroom eco house lies in a quiet location in Stiffkey on the north Norfolk coast. The newbuild property has a writer’s studio, a natural swimming lake, two separate artist’s studios, and a studio apartment annex.
Named Highfield, the 1,798-square-foot home was self-designed by the Man Booker Prize longlisted author and her husband, the artist Siemon Scamell-Katz, according to its selling agent The Modern House. The “experimental” house, which was completed last year, hit the market last week.
The home’s attached birch plywood-lined writer’s studio, where the Canadian-born writer works, has views of the surrounding landscaped gardens from its glazed sliding doors. The top floor in the main house, meanwhile, has a master bedroom suite with vistas of the North Sea.
“I’ve never had a place to write like this,” Cusk told The Modern House in 2019. “It’s almost like I’ve done all of this work in order to get a workspace… It feels like my home, that only belongs to me. It does massively reduce the commuting distance between me thinking something and me writing something,” she said.
“We wake up and we look out straight over the sea,” said Scamell-Katz in the same Modern House interview. “We can see exactly what the tide’s doing and what effect that has on the landscape… It is just an amazing, continuously changing, really exciting landscape; it is truly beautiful,” he said.
The artistic couple’s property is a flexible, modern family home built on the site of a bungalow and annex, with 6.5 acres of private land that slopes down to a landscape of coastal salt marshes on the North Sea.
Retaining the bungalow’s original footprint and walls, the home features thick insulation, 30 solar panels on its roof, and a new top floor. Its exterior is clad in weathered larch planks and laser-cut granite tiles, which are designed for use in exposed coastal locations.
Featuring a grey façade and a cubic form, its design “draws inspiration from the sweeping, rugged coastline” and brings together local vernacular and contemporary modular styles, according to its sales details.
Inside, it has wide reclaimed larch plank flooring, red and gold walls, an open-plan kitchen/dining room, a sauna, a library, and extensive glazing in the form of double-height windows, sliding doors, and picture windows, which connect it to its rural and coastal setting.
Acccording to Jake Elliott, a senior appraisals specialist at The Modern House, Highfield is a “thrilling, uncompromising, architectural response to the landscape. Its plot is incredible really, sitting in six and a half acres that lead down to the Stiffkey salt marshes,” he says.
“The natural swimming lake is certainly appealing, but I particularly like the flexible approach to life the house offers,” Elliott adds.
Entry to the house is via a gated front courtyard garden enclosed by flint-filled gabion wall, with a box-shaped pool, which is an ideal spot for contemplation. Elsewhere, there is a double carport, two artist’s studios (a former shipping-container and a former Nissen hut), and a naturally-filtered swimming lake with a jetty and distant views of the sea.
Cusk–who has written 10 novels including the Outline Trilogy and 4 works of non-fiction– and Scamell-Katz have owned the home since 2014, according to The Modern House. The sellers could not be reached for comment.
Set in an area of outstanding natural beauty, facing wildlife-rich saltmarshes, the home lies in the coastal village of Stiffkey between the villages of Wells-next-the-Sea and Blakeney. The market town of King’s Lynn is just under an hour away.
Popular with birdwatchers and walkers, Stiffkey’s coastal landscape is formed of twisting, tidal muddy creeks set under wide skies, which features bird nesting sites, wild samphire, and Stewky Blues cockles.