Why sacrifice your fresh-air fix for a taste of the high life? This former coach house has an enviable position on the edge of ancient woodland, never straying from the path of urban sophistication and old-fashioned relaxation. A cosy, timeless retreat, it might inspire a spot of reading in the garden (there's a full wall of tomes to choose from), knitting in the rocking chair (an Eames), or a trip to the deli to forage for food. Think of it as your own Little House on the Northern Line (and keep an eye out for bears).
Your host is a well-travelled architect who has spent the last three years working for a charity in Kenya. Japan is another great love and evidence of her exploration can be seen throughout the house.
This secret hideaway conceals ingenious design tricks sure to impress city slickers and solace-seekers alike. Skylights, mirrored doors and a glass panel between the floors maximise the brightness, while a natural selection of oak, cherry wood, slate and limestone creates a tempting textural mix.
Head upstairs for a view into the deep, dark woods. Or hunker down under the rustic eaves where design classics contrast with quaint throws and homemade furniture. Your sylvan sanctuary is full of intriguing books and artefacts from Africa, Japan and beyond, so you can broaden your horizons even if you shun town.