Made to measure
SOME of the best properties don't necessarily have to have a rich history or undergo a complete transformation to be considered a dream home. Sometimes dream homes are contemporary, stylish and sleek, designed to accommodate modern families and their hectic lifestyles and Manor House is a spectacular example of this.
Mark and Jane Tracey are the proud owners of Manor House in Mumbles, a stunning five bedroomed family home in the most perfect of settings.
Mark is probably prouder than most home owners, not just because it is a very impressive home, but because he actually built Manor House.
When they decided where they wanted to build, moments from Mumbles seafront, Mark and Jane sat down together and began designing their dream home.
Mark incorporated some of his favourite designs from other properties he has built, however it was Jane who had the final say in all aspects of the design stage.
"I am not ashamed to admit that I don't wear the trousers at home, Jane is definitely the boss in this relationship and on top of that she has a fantastic eye for design," admits Mark.
As soon as you enter the gated entrance you can't fail to be impressed by this stately residence that stands before you. Once inside Manor House you are faced with an impressive oak staircase and gleaming marbled floor that immediately lets you know you have walked in to a luxury abode.
There is a magnificent open plan lounge with a kitchen to one side and a dining area on the other that leads in to the conservatory. The lounge has beautiful bi-folding doors opening out on to the garden and you can understand why Mark likes this room so much.
"My favourite room is definitely the lounge. When the bi-folding doors are open during the summer it creates a completely different living space bringing the garden indoors," says Mark.
The kitchen, as with the rest of this magnificent home, is finished to a high quality specification. Innovative appliances include an integrated coffee machine, retractable extractor fan, iPod connection and child friendly induction hob.
Upstairs is equally impressive and boasts a galleried landing with French doors that open on to a spacious balcony overlooking the front of the property. The master bedroom is home to a beautiful en-suite with Jacuzzi bath and walk through dressing room. With double French doors opening invitingly onto the balcony overlooking the garden it really is the perfect bedroom.
"I love our bedroom, it is spacious and light and there is nothing I like more than leaping out of bed in the early morning and enjoying a fresh coffee on the balcony while admiring the view. This really doers make all that hard work worthwhile," says Mark.
There are three more beautiful double bedrooms with an en-suite and Jack and Jill bathroom. Then just when I thought it couldn't get any better I find myself climbing the stairs to the guest suite on the second floor. Here is another double bedroom with a luxurious en-suite, a living room and storage room. Mark and Jane really understand the meaning of hospitality by letting their friends stay here and even providing them with best views of all, looking out to sea.
Walking around such a luxurious home it is easy to forget about all the hard work that has gone into building Manor House. In addition to the hard, physical labour and great expense, Mark and Jane had to endure living in a caravan on the drive for three months, over Christmas!
With the caravan long gone the grounds are as immaculate as the home and with a stone wall encircling the rear garden and electric gates guarding the front this is a very safe environment for children to enjoy endless hours of fun.
The added privacy means it is also great for summer barbecues or family get-togethers. There is a children's play area, a decked seating area and an enchanting spiral staircase that leads up to the first floor balcony.
For most of us, owning a dream home will always be just that — a dream — but not for Mark Tracey. Not only has he achieved his ambition, he has gone one step further and actually built his very own dream home.
This is a hugely impressive achievement made even more so because of his battle with illness. Through illness Mark's life has taken on a whole new perspective and sometimes you have to let dreams go so that you can move on and chase new dreams however difficult that may seem at the time.
"I really love this home and I am going to miss it. This is our personal statement and is the best home we have ever owned. It is a symbol of what we have strived for and achieved." He adds: "But more than anything it is a family home that deserves a family."