When former Formula One racing driver Max Chilton and his artist wife, Chloe, decided to build a house they really went for it, creating a stunning Georgian-style property that looks perfectly at home in its lakeside setting.
The couple – who are expecting their first child in March – knew they wanted to stay in the corner of Surrey in which they’d always lived, so when they saw a listing for a property in the village they got married in, they knew it was right for them.
The modest bungalow on the plot was demolished and the build of their dream home took 14 months, the first three spent on the groundworks alone.
“We had to take 160 truckloads of muck away,” says Max, who raced 35 times for the Marussia Formula One team before moving on to the IndyCar race series in the United States.
He stopped racing at the end of 2021 and, as well as running his other businesses, he project-managed the entire build of the new house and loved it so much he has since started a property development company, called Oak & Olive Homes, which builds a dozen houses similar to his own each year.
“I love architecture,” he says. “If not a racing driver, I always wanted to be either a golfer or an architect, but I’m quite dyslexic so I couldn’t do the seven years at uni. I always knew that one day I’d stop racing and become a developer.”
“Dyslexia means I definitely see life in different ways to other people. Business-wise, I think it’s good because I don’t see risks as an issue but more of a challenge.”
The couple met when she was four and he was six. Max’s parents would go to Chloe’s parents’ fine art dealership at weekends taking Max with them.
“We remember having childish conversations,” Max says. “About 10 years on, Chloe’s best friend was the sister of my best friend and they always had great house parties and it went on from there.”
“I took a bit of persuading,” Chloe laughs, “but my mum said, ‘just go out with Max, he’s such a nice boy and he obviously likes you’. So I’d say listen to your mum, girls!”
Chloe – an artist who creates brilliant and charming pet portraits
– was more excited about working on the interior of the new house than she was about the building process. “For a while it was all mud and bills,” she laughs.
The kitchen by Mason & Co has a traditional Georgian feel and is very much the heart of the couple’s home. Painted in York White by Dulux Heritage, it has a natural wooden floor and a huge island unit topped in Lincoln quartz. The attention to detail is stunning and traditional features – such as the moulded cornicing – mix seamlessly with the more modern, including state-of-the-art appliances.
Very early on the couple agreed on an AGA cooker. Max grew up with one and Chloe’s parents had one too.
“As a teenager I realised you could cook Scotch pancakes on the hotplates,” says Max, “and I thought it was amazing – you could just throw on the mix and have pancakes in seconds. For me there was no question. I’ve always had one. We wanted a really traditional house and for us that means having an AGA. I like the simplicity of an AGA.”
Max and Chloe chose a white AGA R7 160. It has ovens designed to be on all the time, but with built-in energy saving features that make it perfect for those with large kitchens or who live in draughty houses. The hotplates switch on and off independently and there’s a fan oven, slow cook oven with a grill and gas hob, too, offering the best of all worlds.
“The hotplates heat up so quickly,” Chloe says. “Even if they’re off and I decide I want to boil some pasta I just switch it on, put the lid on the saucepan and it’s boiling within minutes.”
“We have solar panels,” adds Max, “and in the summer months they promise me the panels we have will pretty much run the house, particularly with the battery system. It’s amazing to have a cooker powered – pretty much free of charge – by the sun.”
Max admits that Chloe does almost all the cooking, but that he likes making quick dishes directly on to the hotplates.
“He loves doing the gimmicky fun stuff,” jokes Chloe, who in turn enjoys making roasts, stews and slow-cooked ragu.
“I love the fact the AGA is a healthy way of cooking,” she says.
“You don’t need to use lots of oil and the amount of heat it offers is almost like frying something but you’re not. And things don’t dry out like they do in other cookers.”