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The Sunday Times Home - 15 October 2017

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October 15, 2017
The suburb where
prices have risen 24%
in three months 8
How much does
your household
cost to run? 13
Poldark hunk?s
Portuguese
h
hideaway 30
Delighted of Tunbridge Wells
Bright and beautiful: an award-winning �0,000 makeover 22
2 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times
Home
MAKING
MOVES
NORTHUMBERLAND
�75M
LONDON NW5
FROM
�0,000
Built to showcase the wealth
of a local brewer and
property speculator in the
1890s, eight-bedroom
Shortridge Hall is now in
need of another captain of
industry to flaunt its fine
features. Less than three
miles from Alnmouth station,
with coastal views, the grade
II listed 16,500 sq ft mansion
has ritzy cornicing, panelled
wooden doors and an
emblazoned motto, ?Verus
ad finem? (true to the end).
It?s set in 3.4 acres, there?s
a leisure suite with a pool,
and the kitchen is by Mark
Wilkinson.
01434 622234,
finestproperties.co.uk
The heel scuffs from any
overenthusiastic rumbas
and cha-cha-chas have long
since been eliminated from
the floors of a former dance
studio that was used for
practice sessions during the
2013 run of Strictly Come
Dancing. Holmes Studios,
a few minutes? walk from
Kentish Town Tube station,
has been converted into
nine one-, two- and
three-bedroom flats with
vaulted glass ceilings,
polished concrete floors
and Carrara marble tiles.
020 7043 8888,
stonerealestate.co.uk
SOMERSET
�0,000
Get yourself an Independent
State of Frome T-shirt at
the hip monthly market and
you?ll feel right at home.
Shops in the chain-resistant
town include the vintage
and antiques treasure troves
loved by rock stars and
their wives who have
escaped from north London:
chichi Babington House is
a 15-minute drive away.
Just outside Frome?s town
centre, this grade II listed
Regency townhouse has
three bedrooms and
polished wooden floors.
01225 829000,
winkworth.co.uk
The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 3
�5M
COVER: SIOBHAN DORAN
GLOUCESTERSHIRE
The owners of this grade
II listed 17th-century house
on the edge of Ewen,
a 15-minute drive from
Cirencester, have skilfully
transformed it from a
Cotswold farm building into
a stylish, contemporary
family home. It has five
bedrooms, including a
luxurious master suite that
takes up the second floor,
a bespoke timber kitchen
with limestone floors and a
detached annexe that would
be perfect for guests. Hit the
buzzing local, the Wild Duck,
for a full Sunday lunch or
oysters and bloody marys.
01285 627680,
struttandparker.com
INSIDE THIS WEEK
A manifesto for
later-life living
4
Your property
problems solved
24
Burning desires:
hot new stoves
38
PLUS Living 13 Going Places 20
Gardening 26 Overseas 30
The Edit 37 Time and Space 42
WE WANT... A BUNGALOW
�75M
BERKSHIRE
Perhaps you shouldn?t call it
a bungalow ? the grandly
titled Pavilion is a flowing
5,910 sq ft one-storey home
with pillars and porticoes
in Sunninghill, near Ascot.
The four-bedroom property
has been completely
renovated, and there?s a
private pool and a floodlit
tennis court in its 1.45 acres.
01344 624732,
knightfrank.co.uk
�5,000
NORTHAMPTONSHIRE
Newly built in an H formation,
the gleamingly modern Light
House has five bedrooms,
three receptions and three
bathrooms. Surrounded by
rolling countryside, which
is framed by expanses of
glazed walls and sliding
doors, it?s a futuristic addition
to the village of Loddington,
near Kettering.
01858 438723,
struttandparker.com
�5,000
ESSEX
Built in the early 19th century,
this grade II listed one-storey
octagonal lodge is in
Great Horkesley, three miles
from Colchester. It has
gothic-style arched windows
and a heavily studded door.
A later add-on with a
modern (and less charming)
front door created space
for two bedrooms and
one reception.
020 3750 9011, tepilo.com
4 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times
HELEN
DAVIES
@TheSTHome
T
o Birmingham, and
UK Construction
Week, where, in
among the exhibits
showcasing the
latest in concrete screed,
drones, backup generators
and cranes, there was a
contented sense that, at long
last, more attention was
being paid to the sector.
Understandable, against the
background of the Grenfell fire
and a housing crisis that now
seems to be acknowledged by
almost everyone.
Hot topics included the
role of developers as
?placekeepers? as well as
placemakers; how to create a
community; the use of
mediation; and the comeback
of Dubai. What was also
evident was the scale of the
projects under way ? the �n
revamp of Manchester airport
that will double the size of
Terminal 2, the ambition to
boost Birmingham?s train
network and the Midlands
Engine, which wants to rev up
the power of this �0bn
regional economy.
The boring machines for the
Thames ?super sewer?, the
largest privately financed
infrastructure project in
Europe, will start next spring.
The scheme is also providing
200 jobs on the river.
??
When you meet
someone, for
heaven?s sake don?t
tell them about
your aches and
pains. Ask them
how they are. Try
to be cheerful
Another sign of the
changing London market: TfL,
the capital?s third biggest
landowner, which aims to earn
�1bn from property over the
next decade, has shifted its
focus outwards to what Peter
Elliott, head of property
development, calls ?huburbs?.
TfL has increased its property
development arm from five
people to about 75 in the past
two years or so. The scale is
ambitious; the funds available
may not be so generous. I
predict a bunfight.
ALL ABOARD
Are you trying to sell up? New
analysis from the comparison
tool EstateAgent4Me has
revealed that, on average,
prospective vendors need to
have their property on the
market by Tuesday in order to
sell it by Christmas. Indeed, if
you are following Home?s guide
(published on September 3),
our advice for the next seven
days was: ?If you still haven?t
found a property to purchase,
your best bet might be to go
back and haggle hard for one
you want.?
MANIFESTO FOR LIVING
Following on from the piece
by Sebastian Cresswell-Turner
last week, in which he
movingly described winding
up his father?s estate and
emptying his home, one
reader, an 80-year-old widow,
was compelled to get in touch.
We have all been encouraged
by her good manners, good
intentions and all-round sense
of the good life.
?I have recently downsized
to a three-bedroom ex-council
house and have made a
ground-floor home (with a
boudoir, as I call it) behind a
screen, and a small flat
upstairs, plus a spare room,?
Pauline writes. ?If I can do it,
so can others.?
Her comments amount to a
manifesto for later-life living
that I hope will engage and
inspire you too. ?People need
to help themselves if they can,
and not give up,? she says. ?It
is about time that we older
people consider not just
ourselves but our demise: after
all, nothing is more certain
than death.
?So, my message is this.
Think about how we can help
ourselves if one of a couple is
left (that is traumatic in itself ).
We must decide to write a will
and, if finances allow, pay and
plan for our funeral.
?Also, sort out the clutter.
Do it before you get too old
and past it, because to leave it
is selfish and unfair. Try to eat
properly. Do some sort of
exercise. If you can downsize,
do it now. Centralise, don?t live
out in the sticks: move to a
place where you can walk to a
shop, a doctor and a bank.
?Learn to use an iPad to
email friends. When you meet
someone, for heaven?s sake
don?t tell them about your
aches and pains. Ask them
how they are. Try to be
cheerful and to enjoy each day
(it could be catching!).
?It is down to us to put our
lives in order, not to leave it to
somebody else.?
Keep sending your thoughts
on the housing market to
helen.davies@sunday-times.
co.uk
MOVING ON
HOME FRONT
Home Opinion
Alcohol units 2 (medicinal),
calories 1,258 (on celeb diet),
expensive LA homes to sell 1.
Helen Fielding, the creator
of Bridget Jones, has put her
three-bedroom villa in the
Hollywood Hills on the
market for $3.5m (�7m).
The author and screenwriter
bought the sleek pad for
about $1.4m in 2000, so
she?s set for a profit of more
than $2m (v.g.). Fielding,
59, has already bought her
next property: a modern
farmhouse in Brentwood
(LA, not Essex), near the
estate being offloaded by the
musician Beck for $3.75m.
What would the acerbic
art critic Brian Sewell
have said about the fate
of his ?cold, unlovely?
house, an ?Edwardian
monstrosity? in
Wimbledon, southwest
London? The property
? containing 864ft
of bookcases ? was
his home from 1998
until his death in
2015. It has now
been bought for
�5m by a
developer, West Eleven,
which is planning to
carry out a ?sympathetic
renovation?.
Alexandra Goss
8 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times
Home Market
Buyers flocked
to view this
three-bedroom
bungalow on
Hillview Terrace,
in Corstorphine.
Upsizing families
and downsizing
city exiles are
battling it out for
similar properties
TIMES +
Subscribers can
enjoy exclusive
golfing experiences
and rates at some of
the world?s finest
resorts and courses.
Find out more at
mytimesplus.co.uk
MIKE WILKINSON; BYRON TANAPHOL PRUKSTON/GETTY IMAGES
T
he most desirable property for
sale in Edinburgh is neither the
turreted 16th-century manor
house on the edge of Hillwood
Park nor the beautifully
refurbished Georgian townhouse within
walking distance of the domineering
castle. Judging by the scrum of buyers
who rushed to view it as soon as it came
on the market earlier this month, the
hottest house in the Scottish capital is a
three-bedroom semi-detached bungalow
in the quietly unfashionable western
suburb of Corstorphine.
The modest stone home on Hillview
Terrace, just off the main road that links
the city centre with the airport, was listed
a fortnight ago. Offers over �0,000
were invited ? and prospective buyers
couldn?t get there fast enough. ?I had
someone around on the Thursday
morning, hoping they were the first to
see the place,? says the house?s owner,
Angela. ?I didn?t have the heart to tell
them they were the 10th.?
James Armstrong, property manager at
DMD Solicitors & Estate Agents, who is
selling the bungalow, says: ?For a house
like that, I get my first calls within 30
minutes of it appearing on the website.
Sometimes it sells before the brochures
come back from the printers.? In the past
six months, the average time to sell a
three-bedroom property in Corstorphine
was just 15 days. Over the same period two
years ago it was 27 days.
It is a similar story in neighbouring
Clermiston, where a three-bedroom home
typically takes just 13 days to go under
offer. While values for the city as a whole
rose by 6.4% in the last quarter, compared
to 2016, in Corstorphine and nearby
suburbs the price of three-bedroom
properties has shot up by 23.6%, according
to the Edinburgh Solicitors Property
Centre (ESPC).What sets Scottish pulses
racing, it appears, is an early-20th-century
bungalow with an attic conversion.
THIS HOUSE HAD
Yet all is not quite what it seems in
this rambling enclave of tidy hillside
cul-de-sacs close to Edinburgh Zoo. It?s
certainly a pleasant enough area for
families, with plenty of greenery and
sweeping views to the south. There?s not
much in the way of local shops, but a
recent development on the north edge
of Clermiston offers a Majestic Wine
Warehouse and a stylish branch of the
popular Tony Macaroni Italian restaurant
chain as evidence of suburban renewal.
The city centre is only 15 minutes away
in the bus lane, but drivers are often left
seething in rush-hour jams.
At first glance, Corstorphine and
Clermiston appear happy exceptions to
the grim national trends of market
slowdown and Brexit caution. On closer
inspection, though, the surging demand is
more of a mirage. ?Yes, the market here is
flourishing,? Armstrong says. ?But it is
flourishing for unhealthy reasons.?
10 VIEWINGS
IN THE FIRST 48 HOURS.
SIMILAR HOMES ARE
EXPECTED TO SELL IN
JUST 15 DAYS
Angela is happy to be sure of a sale
that is likely to prove at least 10% above
her asking price. Yet the only reason
she is selling the home she has owned
for 15 years is to move literally across the
road to a bigger house with a more
spacious garden for her husband and
two teenage sons. She won?t need a
removal van to transport the sofa ? the
boys can carry it.
She?d had her eye on her next home for
years, but was only able to purchase it
when its owner died. ?That?s how people
buy around here ? you wait for someone
to die,? she says. ?Some people think we?re
mad for moving across the road, but I can?t
imagine having to look anywhere else.?
Corstorphine turns out to be both
beneficiary and potential victim of an
imperfect storm of property pressures,
some of them specific to Edinburgh, but
many shared with other British cities
where demand for affordable housing
has outstripped supply. ?I feel so sorry
for people trying to buy here, especially
the young ones,? Angela says. ?We had a
couple with a toddler and a baby come
around, and I could see this house was
perfect for them. But what really surprised
us was the age range of our viewers. Most
of them were people in their fifties and
sixties, downsizing from bigger homes.
These are people who?ve got money in
the bank and can afford to make much
higher offers than first-time buyers.?
Edinburgh remains a safe and attractive
haven for home-seekers and investors,
according to local property experts. The
city centre oozes money ? on George
Street, you can ogle the �5,000 watches
in a jeweller?s window as a parade of
Lamborghinis and Porsches burble
past. There are four Michelin-starred
restaurants to choose from, and it?s hard to
walk far without a Japanese visitor politely
asking which house is JK Rowling?s.
EDINBURGH?S FR
The Scottish capital is known for Georgian terraces and elegant townhouses, but it?s three-bedders in
The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 9
Firth of Forth
Clermiston
Corstorphine
1 mile
Edinburgh
Waverley
Scottish
Parliament
George
Street
Royal
Mile
Arthur's
Seat
Yet this high-end desirability is part of
the property problem. The matchless
tourist appeal of the castle and the
Georgian crescents, not to mention the
festival and Edinburgh University, have
turned much of the centre into an Airbnb
hotspot. A guaranteed influx of visitors
with wheelie suitcases and selfie sticks, as
well as other part-time residents, is helping
landlords to turn decent profits.
Many residents have cashed in on the
holiday rental boom, ?holding onto their
places and letting them instead of selling?,
says Caroline Young, of ESPC. ?Rents are
going up all the time.? With precious little
space for construction anywhere inside the
ring roads, the result has been a property
crush in places such as Corstorphine.
?Upsizers are having to compete with
buyers who are downsizing,? says Andrew
Riddell, an associate in the Edinburgh
office of Strutt & Parker estate agency.
The suburban three-bedroom house has
become the point at which upsizing
families meet downsizing migrants from
the city centre. There simply aren?t
enough houses to go around.
Compounding the pressure on younger
buyers is the Scottish land and buildings
Capital growth
Corstorphine,
above, and
East Craigs,
above right, are
among the most
sought-after parts
of Edinburgh
transaction tax, which replaced UK
stamp duty north of the border in 2015.
The sliding levy adds a swingeing 10% to
residential properties above �5,000.
?First-time buyers are getting older and
older,? says Armstrong, who was recently
a homehunter himself. He was outbid
on five houses before he secured his
current property ? but only by paying
8% more than its mortgage value.
(The buying process in Scotland differs in
several ways from that in England and
Wales ? visit moneyadviceservice.org.uk
for more information.)
?Transaction costs have gone up so
much,? Armstrong says. ?Even if you find a
place, it?s hard to compete with someone
who offers 15% above the mortgage value.?
Is there any hope of early relief for a
property market so starved of property?
Perhaps the most worrying thing for many
a Scottish househunter is that prices here
remain decidedly manageable compared
to London. ?A townhouse on the best
street in Edinburgh is �,? Armstrong
says. ?In London, the same house might
go for 10 times that.?
For all their recent popularity, the
bungalows of Corstorphine still fetch
less than half the price of similar houses
in outer suburbs of London, such as
Barnet or Bexley. The fear among
some Scottish buyers is that any easing
of the local market will merely open
the door to a plague of investors from
?down south?.
In the meantime, residents of suburbs
such as Corstorphine, Clermiston, South
Gyle and East Craigs are making space the
old-fashioned way. ?In Corstorphine, you
see more skips outside the bungalows than
cars,? Armstrong says. ?People are taking
the roofs off, extending their kitchens,
adding every square foot they can. Nobody
wants to sell, because there?s nothing they
want to buy.?
RINGE BENEFITS
the suburbs that are seeing demand ? and prices ? rocket. Tony Allen-Mills reports
The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 13
Home Living
BASICS
MORTGAGE
This is usually the lion?s share
of any household expenditure,
and interest rates are set to
rise this year for the first time
in a decade. ?Should the
Bank of England raise rates,
monthly repayments will rise
for millions of borrowers on
ELECTRICITY
ILLUSTRATOR: HELENA MAXWELL
D
o you know ?
really, really
know ? how
much it costs to
run your home?
This autumn, householders
could be hit with a double
whammy of rising interest
rates and higher fuel bills
after several years of costs
remaining stable ? or even, in
some instances, falling.
A dozen mortgage lenders,
including the Halifax and
Nationwide, have already
increased interest rates on
some of their products, ahead
of widely expected Bank of
England action, while the
government?s new cap on
standard variable gas and
electricity tariffs, paid by 12m
households, is unlikely to
come into effect before winter.
Experienced homeowners
know that hardly a month goes
by without an unexpected
expense such as a cracked
gutter, a boiler service or a
chimney that needs sweeping
? or just the desire to splash
out on a new sofa ? but those
new to owning property can
be shocked by the hidden
costs. Adding it all up will not
only help you budget, but let
you decide whether you
should downsize, or if you
can think about climbing the
property ladder: a bigger
house means bigger bills.
My husband and I call our
1920s home ?the money pit?.
Even though we have lived
here for nearly two decades,
the constant call on funds to
fix a blocked drain, rotten
window sill or leaking pipe
never ceases to surprise us.
Ever since the mid-1850s,
when housewives gratefully
devoured Mrs Beeton?s Book
of Household Management,
homeowners have needed
help with domestic economy.
Kathryn Hughes, author of a
biography of the Victorian
domestic goddess, says:
?Mrs Beeton?s book, which is
packed with hundreds of tips
on how to black a grate or
economise on servants, was
such a hit because it spoke
directly to an emerging class
of housewives who were
desperate for information on
how to run a household on a
limited budget.?
While we no longer have
to worry about tipping
lamplighters, we do need to
factor our broadband and live
streaming services, printing
inks and smoke-alarm
batteries into our annual
domestic running costs.
Here, then, are Home?s
modern-day Mrs Beeton tips
on working out a realistic
domestic budget.
BILLS AVERAGE
�6
A YEAR
tracker or variable-rate
mortgages,? says Daniel
Hegarty, chief executive of the
mortgage broker Habito. A rise
of just 0.25% would see those
with a �0,000 mortgage
paying more than � extra a
month, so people on SVR or
tracker mortgages are advised
to lock into a fixed rate as soon
as possible.
FUEL
Average electricity bills for
British households have risen
from �8 a year in 1996 to
�6 in 2016. For gas, the
typical annual cost has jumped
from �7 in 1996 to �0 in
2016. After freezing prices in
the autumn of 2013, all the
big energy providers have
announced rises for this
autumn. Centrica, the owner
of British Gas, raised
electricity prices by 12.5% in
September.
The energy regulator,
Ofgem, announced last week
that 1m ?vulnerable?
customers who use prepaid
meters for their fuel will be
protected from price rises this
winter, joining about 4m
households that already
benefit from safeguards. Those
on standard tariffs will
welcome the government?s
cap, but it is unlikely to be in
place before the winter and
will last only until 2020, with a
possible extension to 2023.
You can take action now by
shopping around for the best
deal using comparison sites
such as Uswitch.com.
THE REAL COST OF
LIVING
How much do you actually spend to keep your home ticking
over? Sarah Lonsdale offers tips to keep your budget in check
INSURANCE
The best way to get a good
deal is to avoid auto-renewing
? when your policy
automatically renews at the
end of the year unless you
tell your insurer that you want
to cancel it. ?People who
auto-renew, rather than shop
around each time, could be
paying hundreds of pounds
more per year for their
insurance,? says Guy Anker,
managing editor at
Moneysavingexpert.com.
He flags up another
common error homeowners
make: not reading the small
print of policies, then taking
out extra insurance for the
boiler, emergency cover and
so on when their main policy
covers these. ?If anyone tells
?
me it?s too dreary to read
14 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times
ILLUSTRATOR HELENA MAXWELL
Home Living
EXTRA ITEMS
YOU NEED TO
BUDGET FOR
Over and above the larger
costs, expect to spend
regular amounts on:
MINOR REPAIRS (RECKON
ON �0-�0 A YEAR)
l Refreshing exterior
paintwork on walls, and
? through the small print, I
ask them, ?Do you fancy
earning �0 by sitting down
and reading your policy for
five minutes???
of the water that older ones
do. You could also install water
butts to catch rainwater, which
can be used in the garden.
COUNCIL TAX
In leasehold properties,
service charges can run into
thousands of pounds, and are
often not well explained. In
addition, you may be asked to
pay into a ?major works fund?
when communal features such
as lifts, stairs and heating
systems in blocks of flats need
upgrading. This can be hefty.
If your home is in the correct
band, there is nothing you can
do to reduce this hefty charge,
which for a Band D home
averages about �0 a month.
Costs vary widely, with many
London boroughs, including
Westminster and Wandsworth,
charging less than half that.
Nevertheless, it is worth
checking to see if your house
was incorrectly assessed when
the charge was introduced in
1991, as research conducted
by Moneysavingexpert.com
suggests that as many as
400,000 households in
England and Scotland are in
too high a band. ?Lots of
people have successfully
challenged their banding,?
Anker says. ?But a word of
warning ? you could get it
wrong and be put in a higher
bracket.?
WATER
Once an insignificant part of
household costs, water bills
have doubled in the past 15
years to an average of �0 a
year, with larger families
paying up to �0. As a rule,
if there are more bedrooms in
your house than people, or the
same number, a meter could
save you money ? though they
can?t be fitted in all homes.
Other ways of reducing
water use include installing
aerated taps and modern
cisterns, which use a quarter
WATER BILLS HAVE
DOUBLED TO
�0
A YEAR
SERVICE CHARGES
RESIDENTIAL PARKING PERMITS
Costs for local-authority
parking permits vary
according to the type of car
you have. In Camden, for
example, a permit for a
high-emission model such
as a Land Rover Freelander
costs �5 a year, whereas for
an electric car it is �.25 (or
free if it uses electricity from
a renewable source). In
Brighton, an annual permit is
�0, with a 50% reduction for
low-emission cars (which no
longer includes diesels).
COMMUNICATIONS
Broadband/phone This is
typically �-� a month,
but it?s always worth looking
out for promotions. These
offer monthly packages that
could reduce your bills
significantly, but they don?t
usually hang around for more
than a week or two.
Netflix/Sky/Amazon Prime
subscriptions While these
may be considered luxuries,
anyone with teenage children
knows it?s hard to resist the
clamour for entertainment on
demand. Netflix has just raised
its premium subscription to
�99 a month, and Sky
packages cost between �
and �.50 a month. Cricket
lovers who took out a Sky
Sports package will have to
subscribe to BT Sport (�.99
a month) to watch the Ashes
this winter, after it outbid Sky.
BBC licence fee A colour
licence costs �7 a year.
SEASONAL
BOILER/AGA SERVICING
These charges vary depending
repairing and creosoting
your fences.
l Replacing loose roof tiles
after storms.
l Repointing brickwork.
l Repairing or replacing
white goods, appliances
such as vacuum cleaners,
toasters, kettles, and shower
heads. Remember to
register the warranty when
you buy a new appliance.
It?s also worth attending
your local Repair Caf�
(repaircafe.org), where you
can learn basic DIY skills
from rewiring plugs to
fixing toasters.
l Replacing lightbulbs
and batteries in smoke and
carbon monoxide alarms,
clocks and so on.
l Repairing and servicing
burglar alarms, security lights
and CCTV systems.
The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 15
l Printing inks and paper for
l Curtain/upholstery/carpet
cleaning.
this should be done every
5-10 years.
CLEANING (�-�500
A YEAR)
l Bleaches, floor and
surface cleaners, descalers
(if you live in a hard-water
area), floor and furniture
polishes and vacuum-cleaner
filters.
l Sprucing up/redecorating
l Replacing pillow cases,
l If you don?t want to do the
l Spring bulbs, patio pots
your home computer.
l Mops, garden tools,
dusters, washing-up sponges
and bin liners.
with paint, wallpaper, tiles
and new carpets.
work yourself, hiring a cleaner
costs �� an hour.
GOOD FOR THE SOUL
(�-�0 A YEAR)
l Replacing your pillows,
duvets and mattresses ?
duvet covers, towels and
sheets (every 2-5 years).
and window boxes.
l Pet food, vet bills,
insurance, grooming ?
and don?t forget the cost
of kennels or sitters when
you?re away or at work.
EXPECT TO PAY
�
FOR GUTTER
CLEARANCE
on the type and age of your
boiler or Aga, but you should
expect to pay �0-�0 a
year. Many suppliers offer a
monthly ?care package?,
which covers the annual
service as well as unexpected
callouts.
CHIMNEY SWEEPING
If you have an open fire or
woodburner, you should have
the flue cleaned annually
(twice a year if you burn coal).
?Chimney fires are caused by
a build-up of soot and tar,? says
Martin Glynn, chief executive
and president of the National
Association of Chimney
Sweeps (nacs.org.uk). If you
use a fire or woodburner
regularly, don?t forget to
factor in the cost of logs and
other fuel.
REPAINTING WOODWORK AND
TREATING GARDEN FURNITURE
This is usually a DIY job, but
expect to pay � a year for
paints and oils.
TREES AND HEDGES
If you have tall trees or
hedges in your garden, you
will need to have these
pruned regularly, both for
safety and to avoid
annoying your neighbours.
Tree surgeons normally
charge about �0 a day;
check whether the price
includes the removal of
cuttings. Keep an eye on
ivy growth ? if you turn
your back on it for a
season, it may be halfway
up your wall and you?ll
need to pay a professional
to remove it.
GUTTER CLEARING AND
WINDOW CLEANING
Moss and autumn leaves
can quickly block gutters,
leading to damp problems,
especially in houses with solid
walls, says Jonathan Peaker,
who runs Fryston Cleaning,
a window-cleaning and
gutter-clearing business in
North Yorkshire. ?People
living on busy roads will also
get a lot of dust, both in their
gutters, where it turns to mud,
and on windows, which can
badly affect light levels in the
home,? he says. It costs about
� to have your gutters
cleared, and from � for
window cleaning.
PEST CONTROL
Infestations of unwanted
insects and rodents are
common, even in towns and
cities. Your local authority may
offer free pest control, so
check before you go to a
private service. Laying bait
and traps for rats costs about
�0, and getting rid of bees
and wasps �. If you have a
swarm of bees, it is worth
contacting a local beekeeping
organisation, which may want
to remove them.
DRIPPING TAPS; LEAKING PIPES,
SHOWERS AND RADIATORS;
BLOCKED DRAINS
You?re lucky if you get away
with one of these water-based
problems a year. Plumber
call-outs and repairs start at
�. Top tip: know where your
stopcock is. Being able to turn
off your water quickly when
you have a burst pipe can
prevent tens of pounds of
damage turning into hundreds.
BOILER SERVICING
COULD COST
�0
A YEAR
20 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times
GOING
PLACES
EARLSWOOD
ABIGAIL EVANS/MONKEY SNAPS PHOTOGRAPHY
Home Move
The Surrey village is not chichi,
but homes are cheap and you
should get a seat during rush
hour. By Tim Palmer
Redhill
M25
Reigate
EARLSWOOD
M23
Commuter power
Earlswood offers
good transport
links and good
value ? in Surrey
terms, at least.
Below, St John?s
has a more
villagey feel
Gatwick
2 miles
Why it?s hot It?s easy to overlook
Earlswood, and its charms are anything
but flashy. Yet there can?t be many
more sensible spots to make a home in
this overheated corner of Surrey. A
village-cum-suburb of Redhill, it grew up
around the railway in the 19th century,
and the train is still one of its greatest
attractions. Commuters are likely to bag
a seat for their morning journey to
London Bridge, a luxury seldom available
one stop up the line at Redhill, where the
town centre is getting a �m facelift.
Earlswood is also within striking
distance of the cafes, restaurants and
smart shops of sought-after Reigate ? but
property here is a whole lot cheaper.
It has attractions of its own, too, beyond
the convenience of excellent road and
rail links, good schools, a hospital and a
golf course on the doorstep, and a
charming family-run convenience store.
Chief among these is great outdoor space,
notably Redhill Common and the
revamped Earlswood Lakes, where you
can watch the wildlife from the comfort
of the cafe or ? for the slightly more
adventurous ? from one of the fleet of
pedalos (�p).
Why it?s not This remains deepest
suburbia. If you?re looking for chichi
metropolitan sophistication, you?ll have
to fork out for Reigate. (It?s all relative.)
And, though the station is superconvenient, the trains are run by Southern.
Education, education, education There
are two popular local primary schools,
Earlswood and St John?s, both rated good
by Ofsted. There?s a lot of pressure on
secondary places, but in Redhill, St Bede?s
(a joint CofE and Catholic comprehensive)
is judged outstanding and the Warwick
School is good, while Reigate School is
outstanding. Sixth-formers can head
for the outstanding Reigate College;
Reigate Grammar is a high-achieving
independent option.
Get connected The train takes you to
London Bridge in 45 minutes and ? if
you?re lucky with connections ? will get
you to the seaside at Brighton in the same
�0,000
ROYAL EARLSWOOD PARK
This two-double-bedroom flat is in the attractive
grand entrance hall of the converted Royal
Earlswood Asylum for Idiots, as it was called in less
enlightened times. It has two bathrooms and views
on three sides. The complex has a gym and a pool.
01737 400168, hamptons.co.uk
The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 21
VOCAL
LOCAL
Vanessa Sheppard,
42, has lived in a
three-bedroom semi in
Earlswood for 10 years
with her husband and
12-year-old son, Sam.
She?s from nearby
Reigate, and moved
here to take advantage
of the reasonable (for
Surrey) prices.
Convenience and
the outdoorsy lifestyle
have turned out to be
the big benefits. ?It?s a
really good community
for families,? Vanessa
says. ?There are
organisations such
as Scouts and Sea
Cadets, and the YMCA
at Royal Earlswood
Park has after-school
childcare and a
decent gym.
?The transport links
are good and you can
easily walk to Redhill. I
often do the 35-minute
walk to work in Reigate.?
She also praises
the open spaces
nearby. ?Redhill
Common is lovely,
with woodland to
build dens, and it?s
popular with dog
walkers. Earlswood
Common has the l
akes, cricket and
football clubs, as well
as a golf course.?
�5,000
amount of time the other way. Gatwick
Airport station is a 10-minute ride. The
M25 and M23 are within easy reach, too.
If you?re staying put, broadband at up
to 200Mbps is available, but coverage isn?t
universal, so check before you buy.
Be seen in For a proper night out, take a
taxi to Reigate, where you?ll find a good
selection of upmarket chain restaurants
(Bill?s, Carluccio?s, Giggling Squid) and an
Everyman cinema. If you?d rather stay
local, Ruchita, by Earlswood station, is a
justly popular local curry house, and
there are a couple of noteworthy pubs.
The Joshua Tree has ostrich and kangaroo
on the menu, with home-cooked pies a
more down-to-earth speciality. The
Plough is a traditional village boozer that
serves good food from breakfast onwards
and has a cracking Wednesday quiz.
Buy in Commuters are likely to be looking
for something close (but not too close) to
the station. Four-bedroom detached
houses typically cost about �0,000,
three-bedroom terraces �0,000.
Neighbouring St John?s, a conservation
area clustered round a church, is a little
more expensive. Houses don?t come up
for sale too often, but a four-bedder went
for �0,000 last year.
For something completely different,
have a look at Royal Earlswood Park.
Three-bedroom apartments in this
lavishly converted former mental hospital
go for about �0,000 ? and are ideal
for downsizers who want something they
can lock up and leave while they fly off to
the sun from Gatwick.
Why we love it Happily affordable family
life in suburban Surrey.
EARLSWOOD COMMON
Just over the road from the common, this pretty
19th-century cottage has two bedrooms, a living
room and an open-plan kitchen-diner, with
planning permission in place to extend this. The
garden has two patios and a shed.
01737 823894, hunterandcompany.co.uk
FIND YOUR
BEST PLACE
Check out our Best Places to
Live 2017 at thesundaytimes.
co.uk/bestplaces And tell us
where else we should visit
@TheSTHome
22 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times
Home Cover
This pink door in
staid Tunbridge
Wells hides a
playful and daring
refurb, says
Martina Lees
T
he shocking-pink front door
is the first hint that this is no
ordinary Victorian villa. Step
inside Niki and Kenton Jones?s
home in Tunbridge Wells and
the surprises continue, with jolts of colour
against dark walls ? and even a secret
passage. Its playful glamour won it the
interior design prize in this year?s Sunday
Times British Homes Awards, and it
features in Extraordinary Interiors, the
debut design book by the founders of the
e-boutique Rockett St George.
?That pink front door was the last thing
we did,? says Niki, 43, an advertising
executive, as she recalls renovating the
house in four stages. Had they begun
at the bottom, the door would have
probably been grey, like the top-floor
bathroom. But as the builders worked
their way down, ?you can see I got braver
and braver?.
It only spurred Niki on when people
tried to tame her tastes. ?Once the paint
swatches were on the door, everybody ?
the builders, my mum ? said, ?You?re not
going pink, are you?? The paint you can
change, so you?ve got to have fun with it.
Every time I put the key in the door, it
makes me excited about going in.?
The couple felt quite the opposite four
years ago, when they moved into the
four-storey semi with their children,
Amber, now 10, and Jake, 8. ?I was actually
quite scared of it,? Niki says. ?It?s a big
house ? it had a grown-up energy, not a
fun, family energy.? They had moved from
a terrace in Tooting Bec, south London
(?Small, and so bland ? everything was
neutral?), to renting a two-bedroom flat
while househunting in Tunbridge Wells.
They had planned to leave the capital
?when we got to about 40?, Niki recalls.
?Neither of us liked the idea of bringing
up kids in London because of those riots
[in 2011]. I used to cycle through Clapham
Junction to get to work, and that was
really badly hit ? and from our loft, we
could see Croydon on fire.?
As for where to go, they had no lengthy
deliberation over maps and train
timetables. Niki landed a plum job at an
agency in Tunbridge Wells, and within
weeks they had joined the ranks of ?so
many creative, entrepreneurial types out
here?, seeking good schools and greenery.
Kenton?s London job as a director at the
online travel agency Expedia is less than
an hour away by train. And the Kent spa
town is ?a fresher, cleaner, smaller version
of London ? it?s not as twinset and pearls,
white middle-classy as you think.?
Their house, however, was a less
obvious choice. ?We knew it had great
potential, but I didn?t love it,? Niki says.
They had been looking for a project, but
?not as big as we bought into?. Intrigued
by the sundial in the garden, they took
a builder along to view the house, for
which they paid �2,500. ?I think he said
?I can do all of it for a hundred grand?,
and that felt reasonable. But it was many
times that.?
In fact, the renovation came to
�0,000, with two years of ?dusting the
kids down before they went to school?.
READERS?
HOME
SHOWING OUR TRUE
COLOURS
Kenton and Niki didn?t sleep in their
bedroom for a year; for nine months,
including Christmas, the kitchen was a
Black+Decker workbench and a camping
table. ?It?s like having a child,? Niki says.
?I have forgotten the worst of it now, and
just enjoy the best.?
At one point the builders had to down
tools while the late neighbour?s heir
objected to the couple?s extension ? while
planning to build several homes on his
land with a right of way across their
driveway. ?That was a nightmare,? Niki
says. ?Big trenches outside were filling up
with water, until we figured out the
legalities and stopped that happening.?
In the end, the heir sold it privately and
the new neighbours became best friends.
?We go on holiday together and the kids
run to the different houses. It?s like a
neighbour love story.?
As with the neighbours, so with the
house. When they moved in, the large hall
was the worst room: ?We debated for a
long time over whether we wanted the
house, because the hall was so horrible.?
Now it?s the room they love most. Back
then, damp smells had wafted up from
the basement, which hadn?t been tanked,
while a triangular walled-in staircase
hung awkwardly over one corner ? a relic
from when the villa was split in two in
the 1950s. ?We saw that if you could
solve this, you?d get back that grandeur,?
says Jennifer Hamilton, founder of the
Vawdrey House, the Sussex architects
who oversaw the spatial planning and
project management.
Their answer to the staircase
conundrum? They hid the awkward
protrusion behind panelled joinery and
put a reading nook with a built-in sofa in
the middle. This is flanked on either side
by more panelling concealing secret
doors: one to the cellar, now a TV room,
the other to the gleaming drinks cabinet.
?There were two things I wanted in a
house ? a really good drinks cabinet and
a secret door,? Niki says. ?I got both.?
Inky emulsion unifies it all, a dramatic
backdrop for pink upholstery and
occasional chairs in lemon. Off to the side,
The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 23
SIOBHAN DORAN; PETER TARRY
Tickled pink
The Joneses,
opposite, at their
Victorian villa.
Far left, the dark
wooden panelling
in the hallway
conceals an
awkward
staircase. Bright
splashes of
colour in
furnishings, and
quirky lights
and accessories
create a playful,
glamorous style.
Extravagant
wallpaper adds
drama to the
downstairs loo,
below
TIMES +
One lucky subscriber
will win �000 to
spend on luxury
interiors at the
Danish design and
lifestyle store
BoConcept. Enter at
mytimesplus.co.uk
the downstairs loo dazzles like a jewel
box, pairing emerald wallpaper with a gilt
mirror from her mother?s loft. ?Every
room has something different to offer ?
for a different mood, a different occasion,?
says Niki, who chose the decor. ?I feel a
bit guilty saying that. It feels extravagant
for now, but it?s a house we?ll grow into.?
In the contemporary slate-clad
extension, glass walls slide away to the
garden terrace and a sunken trampoline
beyond. A carpenter adapted the existing
Smallbone kitchen, its once pastel
shades now a show-stopping Black Blue
from Farrow & Ball, buoyed by white
chevron tiling and Niki?s ceramics
collection on open shelves. Recessed
lighting accentuates the ceiling, which
has been lowered in the kitchen area
to differentiate it from the open-plan
dining space.
Above the table, built by Tandem, hang
five mismatched pendants by Rockett St
George and Alexander & Pearl (from �
each). ?I didn?t want three identical
hanging lights, I wanted to be surprising,?
says Niki, who took four months to
source all their lighting on a tight budget.
?I had a Pinterest board of more than
1,000 lights.?
All the luxe furnishings belie their price
tags. Niki mixed high-street bargains (she
visited HomeSense, the designer-discount
homewares sister store to TK Maxx, on
her days off) with the odd house-clearance
find, including two Ercol dining chairs
that she painted canary yellow.
In the sitting room, where floor-length
sash windows lead out to the front garden,
Niki juxtaposed four square rugs from
French Connection (�5 each). ?To get
one rug to fit this room would have been
thousands.? A vintage Heal?s rocking chair
from her parents sits comfortably beside
a cerise ottoman from Sofa.com. The
restored pink marble fireplace, a
behemoth that the Joneses had hated and
tried to sell, now comes into its own
against walls in F&B Lamp Room Gray.
On the first floor, the couple divided
a family bathroom into two shower
rooms: one is now the ensuite for their
moody indigo master bedroom, with the
other for the white tongue-and-groove
guest bedroom. Ceiling-height mirror
cabinets and a rich palette of patterned
and herringbone tiles make these small
spaces a treat to use. They also subdivided
Jake?s large room on the second floor,
creating a fifth bedroom.
The biggest challenge, however, was
the stairs. When the house was divided
in the 1950s, the owners built a wall right
down the middle of the grand staircase.
This resulted in an awkward layout. Every
second flight was narrow, with low
doorways and ceilings, and portions of
stairs that were dark. The Joneses
knocked out a ceiling at the top of the
house, so you can see the roof, added a
skylight and shaved back walls. That cost
about �,500 ? and the once cramped
semi now breathes again.
The best interior design responds to a
specific problem with a specific solution,
without simply throwing money at it,
says Susie Rumbold, president of the
British Institute of Interior Design and a
judge in the Sunday Times British Homes
Awards. ?That?s why we gave the interior
design award to this house.?
Niki?s advice for those contemplating
a similar project? ?Just have fun and
be brave. A lot of people who come
here say ?I wish I could be braver with
my house?, because they?ve chosen
palettes that are all neutral. Why can?t
you be brave? Who?s going to tell you off??
GET THE LOOK
l Lemon Fitz cocktail chairs by Swoon
Editions (�9; swooneditions.com)
l Round marble coffee table by
Rockett St George (�0;
rockettstgeorge.co.uk)
l Wallpaper in reading nook is Zoffany
Lustre Tile (� a roll; johnlewis.com)
l Ballroom chandelier by In House
Junkie (�0; inhousejunkie.com)
l Hall painted in Valspar Royal Navy
(� for 1 litre; diy.com); the front door
is in Dulux Russian Velvet 4 (from �
for 500ml; paint-direct.co.uk)
l Pineapple wall sconce by Abigail
Ahern (�5; abigailahern.com)
l Wallpaper in downstairs loo is
Jinsique in Garden by Kelsey Proud
(�5 a roll; rockettstgeorge.co.uk)
l Tassel free-blown glass wall light
by Curiosa & Curiosa (�5;
curiousa.co.uk)
l Ostrich linocut by Millie McCallum
(from �0 for a large original;
milliemccallum.co.uk)
l Spend on what stands out,
TOP
TIP
Niki advises. You don?t need an
expensive basin or toilet for a
luxury bathroom; instead,
create a focus point with
patterned tiles or ornate wallpaper.
24 October 15, 2017 The Sunday
ay Times
ILLUSTRATOR: MICHAEL DRIVER
Home
THE BEST
COMBINATION MICROWAVES
WINNER
Panasonic NN-CS894S
combination steam
microwave, 80/100;
�9; johnlewis.com
P 32-litre capacity;
1,000W; child safety lock;
drop-down door
P Freestanding, but can be
built in with extra kit
P Versatile: also works as
a grill, convection oven,
steam oven or combination
P Simple to use
P Perfectly defrosted meat
O Ready meals and jacket
potatoes cooked unevenly
RUNNER-UP
Samsung MG22M8074AT
built-in grill microwave,
77/100; �9; ao.com
P 22-litre capacity; 850W;
grill; child safety lock;
eco mode; left-hinge door
P Intuitive to use
P Plenty of useful cook and
auto-cook modes
P Compact
P Good performance
P Excelled at defrosting
O Grill temperature cannot
be adjusted
goodhousekeeping.co.uk/
institute
READERS?
CLINIC
SHOULD I USE
STICK-ON WINDOW
FILM?
CA, Putney
Francesca Ingamells,
St Albans
I used it in our B&B in one
bedroom that overlooked
a messy area next door.
Easy to fit and clean.
Angela George, via email
It?s hard to stick film on
without getting air bubbles
? a window-cleaning blade
can help. Instead, I used
etch spray from a craft
shop, sprayed thinly in
vertical and horizontal
sweeps for even coverage.
Melanie White, Duffield,
Derbyshire
I recently installed it on
my front door, bathroom
windows and half-height
bay windows so I could
have privacy and light. I
recommend Brume film.
l Future question
What do you swear by to
get rid of moths? I can?t
afford Rentokil.
Send your tips, tricks and
questions to homehelp@
sunday-times.co.uk
PROBLEM OF
THE WEEK
I CAN?T BUILD ON MY
LAND BECAUSE OF A
COVENANT FROM 1937
Q
I own a house on
a large plot
that could
accommodate at
least three more
homes. My title
deeds include a
covenant from
1937 that restricts
the number of buildings
on the land to one house.
This was put in place by the
owners of the property next
door when they sold a part
of their land. The people
named in the covenant are
long since deceased and
both properties have
changed hands many times
since then. This makes it
impossible for me to get the
written permission of the
vendor for any alterations.
What can I do?
Keith Scott, Middlesbrough
A
HOME
HELP
From an uninsulated conservatory to a dirty
statue in the garden, our experts offer advice
Q
I have owned a large
sofa for 20 years. It no
longer meets fire safety
regulations and I want
to replace it, but no one
seems willing to come
and remove it from my
third-floor flat. I have heard
that I need to book someone
with a chainsaw to chop
it up and take it away. Is
this true, and how much
will it cost?
CC, southwest London
A
The Salvation Army and
other charities are
certainly worth trying, but
you must make it clear that the
sofa may not meet fire safety
regulations. It is illegal to sell
sofas that don?t comply with
safety rules, so charities that
offer goods to consumers
would not be able to take it,
but that might not be the case
for those that collect furniture
to donate to people in need.
Local councils will usually
remove unwanted goods and
furniture, but they will not
collect from the third floor or
above unless there is a lift in
the building.
I have not heard of the
service you mention, though I
would imagine some removal
or rubbish-disposal firms
would offer this at an
additional charge. I spoke with
a number of removal firms
and found several willing to
remove furniture from the
third floor. Clearabee, for
example, offers a nationwide
service and says it would
remove your sofa at a cost of
� for waste disposal, plus
an attendance charge of �
(clearabee.co.uk). If there is no
lift in your building, there
would be an additional labour
charge for using the stairs.
You could also try eBay,
Freecycle, Preloved or
Gumtree, but make it clear
that the sofa is not fire-safe and
that it is up on the third floor.
Paula Higgins, chief executive,
HomeOwners Alliance;
hoa.org.uk
Q
I have a life-size marble
bust of a young woman,
carved around 1930 in
the manner of Eric Gill. It
lives in the garden and the
marble has blackened. I
would like to clean it myself.
Can you advise?
Anthony, via email
Restrictive covenants
are commonly imposed
to limit development.
The covenant benefits the
current owners of the
adjoining land, whose
previous owners imposed
the restriction in 1937.
You could apply to the
court to have the covenant
discharged on the basis that
it is obsolete, but this is risky:
the outcome would be
uncertain and the process
can be costly.
If it is possible to identify
the extent of the land owned
by the 1937 beneficiaries
A
Q
Clara Willett, senior
architectural conservator,
Historic England;
historicengland.org.uk
Starting with the summer
overheating, a different
roof would make a notable
difference. It would need to
be mostly opaque and well
insulated (at least 150mm of a
modern high-performance
insulating board), with just a
couple of roof lights. This
would keep most of the sun
out and reduce heat from solar
gain. You could also make the
roof overhang the windows by
more than is normal, shading
them against high summer
sun but allowing low winter
sun in. You could even add
external shading or blinds to
the existing windows, and
make sure the new roof lights
have external shades.
The winter condition is
more difficult to address. An
insulated roof will help, but
with all that glass, you?ll still
lose a lot of heat. If the
conservatory is built on a brick
plinth wall, you could add extra
insulation to the wall, internally
If the sculpture is similar
in style to an Eric Gill, the
surface may be quite
smooth and fine. Over time,
marble will erode and become
sugary, particularly in our
environment. The blackening
could be sulphation deposits,
but in this case it is likely to be
biological growth, possibly
algae or lichen. If this is the
case, clean the sculpture with
warm water and a toothbrush.
This should remove much,
but not all, of the growth: you
may have to accept that this
will be its appearance in this
environment.
If the sculpture is in a damp
area, or is overhung by trees,
then biological growth will
recolonise quickly. You may
wish to move it to a more
protected area or indoors,
where it will be less exposed.
If there are sulphation
deposits, they need specialist
treatment with chemicals.
The Institute of Conservation
(icon.org.uk) has a list of
accredited conservators.
I have a conservatory
that is too hot in summer
and too cold in winter.
It has a polycarbonate roof.
How can I remedy this?
Ivan Lawrence, via email
A
(as it may now be divided
into several plots), then you
could approach the current
owners to obtain consent,
but there is a risk that they
will refuse, which they are
entitled to do.
Alternatively, I suggest
taking out an indemnity
insurance policy. This
should be possible,
given the age of
the covenant.
Such a policy will
enable you to
make a claim
for legal fees
and building or
demolition costs in
the event that the person
with the benefit of the
covenant tries to enforce it.
The maximum amount of
the claim would be specified
in the policy, which should
be index-linked to keep pace
with rising property values.
It should also be granted in
perpetuity and for the
benefit of all future owners
and lenders. (They would
need to take out further
policies if they wanted to
build additional homes.)
You would need to show
the insurer the Land Registry
title and details of proposed
works. Premiums vary, so
shop around. The covenants
will still exist on the title,
but an insurance policy will
help ensure the breach of
covenant is not an issue
when you sell. Insurers
normally make it a condition
that the existence of the
policy is not disclosed other
than to any buyer and your
respective advisers, so keep
quiet about it.
Helen Sculthorpe, managing
associate, Farrer & Co;
farrer.co.uk
or externally, to reduce heat
loss in this area, but without
reducing the amount of glass,
or switching to triple glazing,
it will be difficult to make this
a warm space in winter. An
insulated roof will make a
difference, though.
Check with a structural
engineer what load your
conservatory walls can take:
this will inform what sort of
roof build-up you can achieve.
A conventional timber rafter
roof may be the simplest
option. Put the new insulation
between the rafters. You can
then finish the roof with
whatever material is
appropriate to the area and the
house ? tiles, slates and so on.
I would expect this sort of
job, with two double-glazed
roof lights, to cost between
�600 and �000.
John Palmer, managing
director at Enhabit;
enhabit.uk.com
DO YOU NEED HELP FROM
ONE OF OUR EXPERTS?
Email your questions to
homehelp@sunday-times.
co.uk. Advice is given
without responsibility
The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 25
We live on a damp island. It?s
damp when it rains and it?s
damp when it doesn?t. It?s
worse in winter, but not
much. The average relative
humidity for most of Britain
in winter is 85%-88%; in
summer, it is more than 76%,
and it tops 82% in western
coastal areas such as
Cornwall and Wales, as well
as Northern Ireland.
Granted, it?s pretty soggy,
but we are used to it ? we
have airing cupboards, we
cope. Or do we? Too much
humidity indoors is bad for
our bodies and our buildings.
The danger zones are
basements, bathrooms and
rooms with exterior walls,
but damp anywhere can
encourage bugs, dust mites,
smells, structural damage,
corrosion, mould and mildew.
Black mould is toxic and can
cause respiratory infections
or trigger allergic reactions,
asthma attacks or skin or
respiratory irritation.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
Mould could be caused by
dripping pipes, rising damp
or rain seeping in through
leaky roofs and window
frames, so tackle these
areas first if you?re having
problems. A newly built home
may be damp if the plaster is
still drying out, in which case
you should keep it ventilated
and heated ? and wait.
A common cause of damp
indoors, though, is
condensation, and that
needs vigilance. Cooking,
showering, drying clothes
indoors and even breathing
can all cause excess
moisture; droplets can then
form on mirrors, windowsills
and walls, particularly when
they?re cold.
PREVENTION IS BETTER
THAN CURE
To prevent the build-up of
condensation:
l Put lids on saucepans
when cooking.
l Open the bedroom
window for 15 minutes
each morning.
l Make sure your home is
well insulated.
l Keep warm: the ideal
temperature for living rooms
is 18C-21C, and for bedrooms
16C-20C. Even when you are
out, the temperature should
not drop below 15C.
l Leave doors open to allow
air to circulate.
cleaner, and the rag should
be thrown away.
If humidity remains a
problem, cover cold surfaces
such as water pipes with
insulation, install ventilation
flaps in windows and use
extractor fans in bathrooms
and kitchens. Move furniture
away from walls so that air
can flow freely.
TARA MOORE/GETTY IMAGES
HOW
TO...
DEAL WITH DAMP
IS THERE AN EASIER WAY?
l If you?re cooking,
showering or bathing, open
the window, put on the fan
and keep the door closed.
l Check for leaks under
sinks, fridge, dishwasher and
washing machine, as well
as round the toilet, bath,
shower and water tank.
l Try not to dry clothes
indoors.
HOW CAN I FIX IT?
Once you?ve tackled the
source of the moisture, you
can dispose of any mould. If it
is caused by condensation
and there is less than 10 sq ft
of affected surface, you
can do it yourself. NHS
Choices advises using
protective goggles, long
rubber gloves and a mask
over your nose and mouth.
Open the windows, but
keep internal doors closed to
prevent spores spreading.
Mouldy soft furnishings
should be placed in a plastic
bag and shampooed. The
mould can then be wiped
off the wall with soapy water
and a rag. Be careful not to
brush it, though, as this can
release spores.
When you?ve finished, use
a rag to dry the wall. All
the surfaces in the room
should be gone over with
wet cloths or a vacuum
Try flicking a switch. ?The first
and most essential measure
to restore moisture levels to
normal would be to invest in a
dehumidifier,? says Sally Fok,
co-founder and managing
director of EcoAir (ecoair.org),
a manufacturer and supplier
of air-treatment products.
?This will quickly dry the air
and prevent further breeding
of bacteria.?
Dehumidifiers also help
laundry to dry quicker and,
according to Fok, are more
cost-effective than tumble
dryers. Some double as
heaters, and could cut fuel
bills, as less humid air takes
less energy to heat. Which?
(which.co.uk) and Good
Housekeeping Institute
(goodhousekeeping.co.uk)
offer up-to-date reviews of
the best buys for your space
and budget.
LANDLORDS BEWARE
?Damp and mould are
undoubtedly among the
biggest problems in the UK
private rented sector, but
they are completely
avoidable,? says Kate
Faulkner, founder of the
consultancy Designs on
Property and co-author of
a report on damp,
condensation and mould
commissioned by the TDS
Charitable Foundation.
?They can lead to
respiratory and health
problems for tenants, but
landlords are legally obliged
to provide and maintain a
safe, comfortable property. If
a tenant identifies a moisture
problem in the property, it is
their responsibility to report
it in writing to the agent or
landlord. If there is no
response within 14 days, or if
repairs are not made, they
may be unable to evict the
tenant further down the line.?
For most of us, the open
window remains the way
to stave off minor damp
issues. And to get rid of
that charity-shop smell in
a little-used room, a can or
two of fabric freshener
should do the trick.
Cally Law
26 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times
CUTTINGS
Home Gardening
A POTTED
GUIDE TO...
BULBS IN THE GRASS
While a lawn covered in
fritillaries is the stuff of
dreams, there is a balance to
be struck when it comes to
a sward that will be rolled
across or run about on. So
stick to early-flowering bulbs,
giving them a good six weeks
to die back naturally, after
which you?ll be able to mow
with abandon.
IN THE GARDEN
THIS WEEK
l Leaf-collecting time is upon
us, and it is worth gathering up
those that are swamping the
flowerbeds and putting them
in black plastic bags with a few
holes punched in the sides.
Place them in a dark corner,
preferably with something
heavy on top, and leave them
for a couple of years to make
nutritious leaf mould. See? We
are sanctioning slovenliness
in print ? don?t say we never
treat you.
Crocus is the obvious one,
perhaps most beautiful in a
single colour. C tommasinianus
is a charm and seeds easily.
Snowdrops look exquisite in
grass, where they are set off
perfectly against the green
and don?t get smothered by
larger-leaved neighbours.
Galanthus ?S Arnott? is my
favourite. Anemone blanda is a
beauteous thing, available in
white for minimalists and blue
for everyone else.
Keep things natural by
beginning in one corner of the
lawn and throwing a few bulbs
in the air, planting them where
they land. If you?re happy
with just a few, put them in
one by one with a bulb planter,
ejecting the cylindrical clod
back over the top of the bulb
and squishing down firmly.
If, however, it?s profusion
you?re after, you?ll need to
remove some squares of turf
and plant with a trowel as
naturally as possible, not
forgetting to put a few bulbs
right at the edge.
Laetitia Maklouf
l Get any alpines in pots into
a sheltered spot. It can be as
cold as anything ? think of
where they come from ? but
should be away from the wet.
A covered porch or the lee of
a house is ideal.
l Harvest your pumpkins and
gourds now, putting them
somewhere dry to stop them
rotting. We?re obsessed with
the #squashwatch hashtag on
Instagram, where all manner
of warty beasts can be ogled
from the armchair.
l We hate to mention the
C-word so soon, but it is worth
planting up paperwhite
narcissus for the festive season
if you want to deck your halls
with scented splendour on a
budget. They take eight or nine
weeks to flower, so now is the
moment. Put them in tall glass
vases filled with gravel or small
stones. This makes them far
easier to keep watered, as you
can see the water level, and
removes the need for support
when they start to flop.
cuttings@sunday-times.co.uk
WE DIG
A fairly specialised subject,
perhaps, but there is
something rather wonderful
about The Book of
Caterpillars: A Life-Size Guide
to Six Hundred Species from
Around the World (Ivy �).
With contributions from
leading entomologists, the
mighty tome does, of course,
serve more of a purpose than
as a present for insect-loving
children to put in front of
squeamish adults. We all need
to keep an eye out for
imported beasties such as
Cydalima perspectalis, the
box tree moth, a native of
Asia that appeared in this
country in 2007 and is
threatening to devastate
our box, both ornamental
and native.
FOLLOW YOUR
RACHEL
DE THAME
@RacheldeThame
T
NOSE
PART
ONE
here are a few key
essentials to
creating a
successful garden.
By which I mean
simply an outdoor space that
makes you feel good and in
which you want to spend your
time. Most obviously, it should
look beautiful to you, it should
suit your needs and it should
be appropriately planted and
furnished, according to your
budget and the time you have
to care for it.
I?d add one other to the list:
a garden should be fragrant.
Scent adds that indefinable
something that elevates a
garden from being merely
good-looking to a space that
brings intense pleasure.
Most of us will have felt a
wave of nostalgia as a specific
memory is evoked by a
particular smell. In a garden
context, it could be the
creosote on a newly painted
fence or freshly mown grass
that transports us to another
time and place, or reminds us
of a loved one.
Most obviously, scented
plants ? whether the fragrance
comes from the leaves, the
bark or the flower ? are
redolent of moments from our
past. The almost overpowering
sweetness of jasmine, hanging
thickly in the air on a warm
summer evening, reminds me
of a particular doorway
through a specific wall in
Puglia, around which stems
of the highly fragrant flower
were strewn. Thyme is another
personal favourite, as are
lavender and, of course, roses.
I don?t worry too much
about mixing fragrances.
When wearing scent, one
should avoid smelling like a
perfume counter, but in a
garden you can?t have too
much of a good thing.
Out in the open, one?s nose
The first of Home?s two-part series
on fragrant flowers sniffs out plants
that will fill the garden with divine
scent from January through to June
The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 27
GARDEN WORLD IMAGES LTD/GARY K SMITH/ANNE GILBERT/ALAMY
the first few weeks of the year.
Grow it around trees and
deciduous shrubs, or dot
groups of bulbs through the
border. Alternatively, put them
next to steps or in a raised bed
? you?ll be almost within
sniffing range of the sweetly
scented blooms.
Show and smell
Top, from left,
Dianthus ?Mrs
Sinkins?, Muscari
macrocarpum
?Golden
Fragrance? and
Philadelphus
?Belle Etoile?.
Above, Tulipa
?Ballerina?.
From far left,
Daphne bholua
?Jacqueline
Postill?, Lathyrus
odoratus
?Matucana? and
Rosa ?Ispahan?
gets a quick break between
plants and is able to
differentiate between subtly
varied scents without suffering
from fragrance fatigue.
For me, the important
thing is to have enough scent
in the garden all year round.
Fortunately, this attribute is
found in all plant groups,
from trees and shrubs to
perennials, annuals and bulbs.
Cast your net wide to select
the best perfume. As one
might expect, spring and
summer are oversupplied in
this respect. But one might be
surprised by the wealth of
scented plants on offer every
month, with midwinter and
the earliest weeks of spring
among the high points, when
the unexpected whiff of
perfume feels like a gift from
the gods.
When deciding what to
plant to ensure your garden
is never without scent, do
look beyond the flowers.
Fragrant foliage broadens
immeasurably the range of
smells on offer, including the
panoply of herbs. Those of
Mediterranean origin, such as
rosemary, thyme, sage and
lavender, are invaluable in
terms of layering on the scent.
One can also find fragrance
in stems, bark and fruits.
Finally, what you will find
appealing is highly personal.
What one person loves,
another may loathe. What one
finds overpowering, another
may hardly be able to smell.
WHAT
TO GROW
JANUARY
Chimonanthus praecox
?Grandiflorus? Wintersweet is
a fairly substantial shrub, with
attractive foliage in summer
followed by unusual flowers in
winter. These have a subtle
creamy colour, with a reddish
tint inside the petal, and a
semitranslucent appearance,
not unlike the wax flowers
worn by modest Victorian
brides in their hair and sewn
to their gown. The fragrance,
by contrast, grabs the attention.
On a sunny winter day, that
bit of warmth is enough to
amplify the perfume, which
??
In midwinter and
the earliest weeks
of spring, the
unexpected whiff
of perfume feels
like a gift from
the gods
seems to diffuse in waves over
the garden.
Iris unguicularis ?Mary
Barnard? Providing welcome
fragrance as autumn segues
into winter, the Algerian iris
thrives in a sunny, sheltered
spot, be it the base of a
south-facing wall or around
and between shrubs with an
airy, open habit, including
some of the more upright
acers or witch hazels. I?ve
included them in January,
but flowering times vary
depending on the weather in
any given year. Sometimes the
buds open before Christmas,
but in colder winters it may
be nearly Easter before the
sweetly scented bluish-mauve
flowers emerge.
Viburnum � bodnantense
?Dawn? Another large shrub,
but with an upright habit,
making it easier to squeeze
into a smallish space. It?s
deciduous, so not much goes
on between leaf fall and the
emergence of the flowers,
which appear on the bare
stems and last well through
the winter. Each tiny pink
bloom is tightly packed with
others into rounded clusters
that elegantly fade from pink
to white.
FEBRUARY
Galanthus ?S Arnott? Unlike
our native snowdrop, G nivalis,
this variety is a whopper,
with large, pendulous,
crystalline white flowers in
Daphne bholua ?Jacqueline
Postill? This is a classy shrub,
with glossy, dark evergreen
foliage combined with clusters
of small but rather lovely
flowers, deep maroon-pink
towards the base then fading
to white on the inside, giving
a raspberries-and-cream
effect. Their perfume is rich,
sweet and delicious.
Daphnes have a reputation
for being tricky to cultivate,
but I?ve yet to have a problem
with them. Slow-growing and
neat in habit, they require
minimal intervention. Avoid
transplanting them once
established (which they detest)
or pruning, unless it?s to
remove damaged stems.
MARCH
Narcissus ?Avalanche? This
irresistible tazetta-type
narcissus produces eight or
more tiny but powerfully
fragrant flowers on each stem.
The colour is a fresh white
and yellow combo that
encapsulates the optimism of
spring. Because of their small
scale, they?re delightful grown
in pots, which can be given
pride of place as they come
into bloom.
Hyacinthus orientalis
?Anastasia? I recall being
told as a child that blue
hyacinths smell the strongest.
This may or may not be true,
but I tend to veer towards the
blues when deciding what to
grow. In a garden setting,
I?m also partial to the less
blobby, more informal
multiflora types, which
produce several stems per
bulb. These have an airy
quality, with spaces between
the individual flowers. When
growing them in pots indoors,
however, the more densely
packed hybrids are the most
eye-catching. If you intend to
force them, remember to buy
?prepared? varieties such as
?Delft Blue?.
APRIL
Narcissus ?Actaea?
Resembling the well-known
late-flowering pheasant?s eye
narcissus, this highly scented
form flowers earlier, which I
prefer ? by May, the moment
for daffodils and narcissi
seems to have passed, and the
garden has moved on to other
things. The flowers have the
familiar flattened profile, with
pure white petals and a small
central golden cup, finely
edged with deep orange.
Tulipa ?Ballerina? This
head-turning lily-flowered
tulip would be on my
must-have list were it scented
or not. The tall, elegant stems
are topped with beautifully
shaped flowers, slender at the
waist and pointed at the tips.
The colour is a glowing clear
orange, matched by a warm
and intense perfume.
Muscari macrocarpum
?Golden Fragrance? My third
recommendation for April
is another bulb, this time a
grape hyacinth. Rather than
choosing a blue-flowered
form, I?d like to suggest a
variety that starts off dusky
mauve and gradually becomes
greenish-yellow, but generally
retaining a topknot of dusky
purple at the end of the flower
stem. To get the full benefit
of its wondrous perfume,
position it along the edge of a
path or, best of all, raise it up
to nose level.
MAY
Dianthus ?Mrs Sinkins?
Traditional pinks have never
gone out of fashion, and this
one is my pick of the bunch.
It?s a classic, developed in the
19th century and still going
strong. The shaggily fringed
flowers are pure white, and
there?s just enough clove
fragrance to delight without
overwhelming. A sunny spot
with well-drained soil will suit
all pinks perfectly.
JUNE
Rosa ?Ispahan? It?s an almost
impossible task to choose a
fragrant rose when there?s
such an embarrassment of
riches. All gardeners have
their favourites, whether the
scent be rich and sweet, fresh
and citrussy or warm and
spicy. I?ve gone for a damask
rose, which generally flowers
only in summer, with perhaps
a smattering of autumn
blooms. But what a show ?
an abundance of clear pink
flowers that open early in the
season. Disease resistance
is good and the perfume is
swoon-inducing.
Lathyrus odoratus
?Matucana? Just as a scentless
rose seems pretty pointless,
so a sweet pea must have a
good perfume. This old variety
is the one most gardeners
would point to when asked to
recommend the most fragrant
of all. The small, distinctly
unfrilly magenta-pink and
purple flowers fill the air with
their scent throughout
summer. Keep cutting them
to encourage the plant to
produce more flowers, then
you?ll also be able to enjoy that
scent indoors.
Philadelphus ?Belle Etoile?
These deciduous shrubs can
look rather ordinary when
not in flower, and they benefit
from a regular prune to
prevent them becoming
unwieldy. That said, I have a
particular soft spot for mock
oranges because they were
one of my father?s favourites.
And when they come into
flower, the heady fragrance
they produce is delicious and
all-pervading.
NEXT WEEK:
JULY-DECEMBER
30 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times
HOTTER THAN
POLDARK
The actor Josh Whitehouse escapes from the TV
show to Portugal, where he and his brothers are
building a creative commune. By Simon Jablonski
A
world away from
the wind-beaten
cliffs of Cornwall,
Josh Whitehouse
is casually
perched on a branch by a
secluded riverbank in his rural
Portuguese retreat.
The actor and model, 27,
has just begun shooting the
fourth series of Poldark, in
which he plays Ross?s dashing
love rival Hugh Armitage, and
is taking a few days off to
celebrate acquiring a share of
the property a year ago; he?s
part of a group of six investors.
Josh has had a busy year
and is not long back from LA,
where he filmed a remake of
the 1980s teen comedy Valley
Girl, in which he takes Nicolas
Cage?s role. ?We?re talking
about setting up a music studio
here,? he says enthusiastically.
Music was his first passion, and
he plays with his band, More
Like Trees, as often as possible
between acting jobs. ?I?m
always writing and recording
new songs in my spare time.?
His oldest brother, Tim, 43,
to whom Josh affectionately
refers as the ?ringleader?, is a
co-investor and the project?s
organiser. Tim has been in
Portugal for most of the year,
working relentlessly on the
property in the baking sun,
so much so that he?s taken
SIMON JABLONSKI; HUGO INGLEZ; BBC/MAMMOTH SCREEN
Home Overseas
on the dusty bronzed
appearance of the scenery.
?Rustic charm? should be
written on his Tinder profile.
The group paid ?75,000
(�,000) for the five-acre plot
of countryside, which came
with four buildings. They?ve
renovated the central one: it
now has a main living area with
five bedrooms. The other three
structures are still in various
states of disrepair. The estate
is hidden amid idyllic hills
and woodland in the Castelo
Branco district, halfway
between Porto and Lisbon,
2� hours? drive from each,
so it?s no surprise that they
named it the Hide.
The three Whitehouse
brothers (Matt, 31, is also here)
have already built a buzzing
artistic community in north
London, which Tim set up
eight years ago to provide
cheap accommodation for
Matt and Josh while they
focused on their music; he
leased a warehouse and
renovated it to fill it with
bedrooms, which he lets.
?Basically, that home Tim
built for me has shaped my
entire life,? Josh says. ?He gave
me a house full of creative
people and enabled me to live
rent-free in London for long
enough to learn to dance and
train for my role in the film
as a poor
Northern Soul. I was
musician ? I would never have
survived by myself. I was eating
pasta and potatoes every day.?
e in
Their warehouse
Tottenham, named the Hub,
is a vast living space
e for
artists and musicians
ns that
encourages collaboration
ration
through events, performances
rformances
and parties. As welll as Josh and
Matt, alumni include
de the actor
Taron Egerton (starr of the
Kingsman films) and
d
several world-champion
mpion
beatboxers. ?I don?tt
know what it is about
ut
beatboxers and us,??
Tim says. ?But we are
re
beatbox central.?
The idea for
Portugal, he
explains, was to
replicate the
artistic communal
Porto
THE HIDE
Castelo
Branco
Serta
Lisbon
50 miles
The actor and Burberry
model Josh Whitehouse
plays Hugh
Armitage in
Poldark
vibe on an international scale,
but ?more focused, because in
London everyone?s off doing
their own thing. At the Hide,
you?re basically here when
you?re here. You can go places
if you want, but you tend to
stay on site with the people
around you.?
The investors in the retreat
have a suitably artistic bent.
Apart from Josh and Tim,
there?s Martin Lee, a writer
who now lives in Russia; Ross
Standaloft, of the rap duo Too
Many T?s; Jay McAllister, better
known as the folk musician
Beans on Toast; and Gav
Lawson, of THTC, an ethical
clothi
clothing brand responsible for
the Run
Ru DMC-inspired Jeremy
Corby
Corbyn T-shirts.
Tim isn?t kidding about it
bein remote. It?s a 20-minute
being
driv to the nearest town,
drive
Sert and eight miles to the
Serta,
neare supermarket. I wasn?t
nearest
even given an address to find
ins
it; instead,
I was sent map
co-ordinates.
Apparently this
co-or
is how the cool kids are now
giving locations ? postcodes
are for
fo squares.
Aside from the adventure
A
of just
getting here, the
j
ap
appeal
of the Hide is
immediate.
The way the
im
hazy greeny browns of the
h
Portuguese
countryside
P
drape
over the hills and
d
sharply
meet the blue
s
sky
s is beautiful. And it is
sscorching.
?I?d always had this
iidea about doing a place
The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 31
??
All they?ve done is
knock a hole out of
the mountain and
reassemble the
slate into a house
Hide a
an
and seek
Abo
bove
e, Matt and
Above,
JJos
sh W
Josh
Whitehouse
w
itth fellow
fe
with
m
usici
musicians
at the
?
75
5,00
?75,000
Portuguese
P
orrtug
property,
p
ro
oper left.
T
hey hope
h
They
that
llike-minded
ik
ke-m
cre
eati
creatives
will go
the
ere in search of
there
an
n artistic
art
retreat
somewhere sunny that could
act as a retreat from London,?
Tim tells me. ?I?ve looked in
India, Morocco, Croatia ?
everywhere had so many
nightmare hassles. Thailand
was the worst. If you set up a
hostel there, and you end up
being more successful than the
hostel down the road, they?ll
kill you, dump your body, give
the local police a hundred
quid and say you were ruining
their business. It?s the law of
the jungle over there.?
Though significantly less
murderous, rural Portugal still
has a few hazards. Wild boar
sniff around at night; just
before I arrived, Tim had been
bitten by a snake. There is a
hospital nearby, but he said he
was too busy building to go,
which is the most John Wayne
thing I?ve ever heard. And at
one point we were interrupted
by a chap who had slashed his
leg open with a machete while
hacking at the undergrowth;
there followed a conversation
about whether to superglue the
wound together. These flowery
artists are pretty damn tough.
The main building is a solid
300-year-old farmhouse. Its
outside walls are more than 3ft
thick and built from dry
stacked slate: there?s no
cement holding it together.
?One of the things I love about
it is that all they?ve done is
knock a hole out of the
mountain and reassemble the
slate into a house,? Tim says.
But the gang have had it
checked by a surveyor to make
sure it?s as sturdy as it looks.
It wasn?t in a liveable state
when they bought it, and
they?ve clearly done an
enormous amount of work.
The floorboards are new, as
are the doors and some of
the window frames. In the
basement, they?ve fitted a huge
kitchen and dining table.
They?ve installed toilets and
showers, and built stairs that
link the three floors together ?
previously, the only way to ?
32 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times
? get to another floor was to
go outside and, as the house is
built on a hill, walk up or
down to another entrance.
?Everything was way harder
than we thought it would be,?
Tim says, exhausted just
thinking about all the work.
There was no water or
electricity at first. ?The
owners tried to sell me 15 more
acres that had access to water,
but it?s not useful land and we
don?t have the manpower to
maintain it.? In the end, they
got a borehole. ?A guy actually
did it with a divining rod ? I
think it was made of olive
wood.? You know you?re not
in the city any more when a
strange chap turns up to divine
for water on your land. I didn?t
ask if he was wearing a pointy
hat and a cape, so I?ll just
imagine he was.
Thanks to this wizardry,
water now comes straight out
of the mountain, through the
taps and into a biological septic
tank that cleans it and sends it
back out into the mountain.
?Electricity was also
difficult,? Tim says. ?We got a
guy in ? this was our first
experience of meeting a
cowboy.? Finding decent
tradesmen has been more
difficult than they had
imagined. ?After the financial
crisis, Portugal was hit hard,
HUGO INGLEZ; ELLIE THOMPSON; SIMON JABLONSKI; TIM WHITEHOUSE
Home Overseas
Arms and the man
Josh Whitehouse,
above; and, left,
wearing cap,
making music
at the Hub,
in north London.
Right, friends
who have joined
the brothers
at the Hide
The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 33
??
After the financial
crisis, Portugal
was hit hard, so all
the tradesmen
went abroad. There
aren?t enough to
go around
so all the tradesmen went
abroad. There aren?t enough
to go around, but there?s a
bunch of cowboys who will
rinse you for every penny
you?ve got and not actually do
any work.?
A relocation specialist called
Christina has been their
guardian angel, guiding them
through the minefield of
unscrupulous workers. She
helps buyers find a house and
sort permits, introduces them
to reputable tradesmen and
provides translation services.
?You could not do this
without fluent Portuguese or
a translator,? Tim says. It?s not
as simple as just browsing the
web to find a local builder:
?That doesn?t work. Nobody is
advertising their services on
Google here.?
It wasn?t just the cowboys
rinsing them. They began
planning in early 2016, and the
Brexit vote was a setback. ?The
drop in the value of the pound
meant we suddenly had a lot
less money than we thought ?
about �,000 less overall.?
So they haven?t started
renovating any of the other
buildings, one of which Josh
wants to turn into a recording
studio. They?re going to have
to wait until money comes in
from letting rooms, though
Tim insists that the Hide is
not a holiday home. It has
been set up as an artistic
retreat, a communal living
space where artists can inspire
each other.
While I?m there, there?s
lively nonstop chatter. People
are painting and musicians
are performing together.
?We want to appeal to people
who are struggling as artists,
but doing well enough to pay
the rent,? Tim says. ?But we?re
not vetting people ? we?re
not going to say, ?We don?t
like the look of you, you can?t
rent a room.??
There?s an exciting creative
atmosphere around the Hide.
The rental rate has been
calculated around the cost of
living in London, so if you can
work using a wi-fi connection,
you can sublet your room in
the capital and come here for
no more money than if you?d
stayed at home. Prices will start
at �0 a month, about �5 a
week or � a night.
You?ll immediately want to
abandon the smog and sign up.
The Hide would be a great
place to escape the distractions
of the city and finally write that
novel while, most important,
getting a killer tan.
facebook.com/thehideportugal;
for booking inquiries, email
tim@feelthenoise.co.uk
WORLD
AFFAIRS
TIMES +
One lucky subscriber
will win an escape for
two to one of
Andalusia?s prettiest
villages, with a stay
at the adults-only
boutique bolthole
DDG Retreat. Enter at
mytimesplus.co.uk
Q
A
I have a holiday apartment in
Barcelona ? should I sell up?
F Gross, by email
The Catalan capital has a stellar
reputation as a groovy city, so
the world has been shocked by
images of the terror attack on the
Ramblas in August, then, this
month, of Spanish riot police
manhandling citizens who were
trying to vote. There is a crisis over
the question of independence, but
it?s not as bad as it looks, and it?s not
a good reason to sell up in a panic.
The issue has exploded because
separatist politicians with a slim
majority in the Catalan parliament
are trying to break away from
Spain in the face of opposition from
Madrid. But this is nothing new.
Catalonia has been on the losing side
in Spanish power struggles for
centuries, so these grievances have
had plenty of time to fester.
The recent drama has freaked
everyone out. Reputations have
suffered, emblematic companies
have moved their registered offices
away in a symbolic move and, worst
of all, Catalan society has become
polarised, with anti-Catalan feelings
on the rise in the rest of Spain. Yet,
barring the odd peaceful
demonstration, I don?t expect much
to change on the streets of Barcelona.
So what happens next? The
separatist Catalan president, Carles
Puigdemont, has fudged a unilateral
declaration of independence, and
if he doesn?t back down, Madrid
will suspend the autonomous
government and hold new elections.
There is talk in the capital of
changing the constitution to make
Catalans feel more at home in Spain,
but there is no real chance of
independence without the consent
of Madrid and the EU, and that looks
out of the question for now. The big
risk is a tussle that drags on and leads
to civil unrest, but that would harm
the economy, and locals tell me there
is no stomach for that. Opinion polls
show a minority of Catalans want
independence, though a majority
would like an official referendum.
The crisis has had an impact on
the local market, as foreign investors
wait to see how it plays out. Agents
say existing deals are still being
closed, but overseas buyers yet to
make an offer are pausing. Local
purchasers are far more sanguine,
and may even benefit from a period
with less competition from
foreigners driving up prices ? which
have risen 20.6% in the past year,
according to the appraisal firm Tinsa.
I doubt any locals are considering
selling as a knee-jerk reaction: this
crisis, bad as it looks, is probably
just a bump in the road. But it?s way
too early to tell.
Mark Stucklin, head of
spanishpropertyinsight.com
Need help? Email us at
property@sunday-times.co.uk
The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 37
KATRINA
NA
BURROUGHS
OUGHS
@Kat_Burroughs
Young designers. We prick up
our ears at those words. Less so
at ?established designers
continue to produce brilliant
work?. There?s something
exciting about emerging talent,
the courage of youngsters
starting out, but the kids aren?t
the only story. Lately, I have
been bowled over by the work
of established women designers
in their fifties and over.
A shortlist of the people who
inspired me this month: Kelly
Hoppen launching elegant
fireplaces with Chesney?s; Celia
Birtwell, whose new prints
for Blendworth are out in
November; and Rose Uniacke,
the queen of the PAD London
fair this year, who has launched
a line of linens, wools and
cotton velvets. Then there?s
Ilse Crawford, with her pretty,
mellow wallpapers, and Sue
Skeen, who unveiled her first
furniture line with the New
Craftsmen last week.
?Midcentury municipal?
might be the best way to
sum up Common Parts,
a new furniture range
created by Sue Skeen
for the New Craftsmen.
Made to order in oak,
ash and Douglas fir,
the Plank settle (from
�100), Stumpy bench
(from �850), Peggy
chair (from �0), Stick
canteen table (from
�0) and Trunk dining
table (from �100) are
robust pieces with
traditional bones and
simple silhouettes.
thenewcraftsmen.com
In case you missed it,
there?s still time to support
Guide Dogs Week, which
ends today ? Mutts and
Hounds is donating 10% of
all sales to the charity until
midnight. There is much
in the canine accessories
firm?s AW17 collection
that is hard to resist at
the best of times. Now
that a purchase will
benefit a good
cause, my advice
is: basket!
Herringbone
tweed donut
bed, �;
muttsandhounds.co.uk
THE EDIT
AGENDA
Home Interiors
FLYING COLOURS
Annie Sloan, decorative paint
diva for three decades
and one of the most
agreeable people in
the business (she
once gave me
comments for an
article from inside a
cupboard at her
hairdresser?s ? good luck
getting the male equivalents to
do that), has collaborated with
Oxfam to produce this pretty
green. Inspired by a visit to
the charity?s Ethiopian
Seed Project, it?s
called Lem Lem, after
the local word for
fresh growth (�
a litre; anniesloan.
com/oxfam).
The interior designer
Edward Bulmer is known for
his heritage colours and natural
paints. He is also a dad, and
has launched a Nursery
Collection of 12 colours,
including Kitty (� for
2.5 litres; edward
bulmerpaint.co.uk).
The AW17 palette
at Benjamin Moore
includes this glowing
russet, Autumn Cover
(from � for 0.94 litres;
benjaminmoorepaint.co.uk).
What would elevate the
kitchen bin out of the
ordinary? The experts
at Brabantia reckon it?s
pins ? the firm has
launched this waste
receptacle on legs, in a
range of jaunty colours.
The Bo Touch Bin has a
capacity of 36 litres;
there?s also a 3 x 11-litre
configuration for
rubbish separation.
�9; brabantia.com
A place for quiet
reflection
The shimmering highlight of
the Surface & Materials show
in Birmingham last week was
this space-age pod called Ood.
It?s designed to melt into its
surroundings ? the privacy
glass, on a timber frame,
reflects back its setting. The
chief executive of Ood,
Andreas Tiik, conceived it as a
hotel or guest room, but it
could be used as a garden
studio or home office. ?The
idea was born when my
brother and I were looking for
great camping and hiking
accommodation for the
weekend, to escape the hustle
of city life, and our options
were surprisingly limited,? he
says. ?We wanted something
that was more than just a spare
room ? we wanted to create
a memorable experience.?
Mission accomplished.
From �,500;
oodhouse.com
38 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times
Home Interiors
KEEP THE
HOME FIRES
BURNING
Rumours of a crackdown on smoke needn?t put
you off a smart stove, says Katrina Burroughs
Y
ou know the
warm and fuzzy
feeling you get
from investing in
something that?s
beautiful and eco-friendly?
That was once the afterglow
of buying a woodburner. As
the owner of a cast-iron stove,
you had acquired a trendsome
fixture, seized the moral high
ground and saved on central
heating, too. Just recently,
though, that cosy glow has
started to cool.
Woodburners, formerly a
mainstay on the middle-class
lust list, have been implicated
in London?s air-pollution
crisis by the city?s mayor,
Sadiq Khan, who is said to be
warming up for a ?crackdown?
in the capital. Carbon
emissions, it turns out, are
not the only enemy of the
environment: fine particulates
suspended in the air are the
new nemesis. So, stoves are in
danger of losing their green
cred, and with it a large part
of their allure.
The mood music may
sound dirgey, but there is no
need to forsake woodburners
just yet, especially if you are
lucky enough to live outside
the metropolis. Clean-burning
Defra-exempt stoves such as
those featured here meet all
the current regulations, and
a ban on these, inside or
outside the M25, seems
highly unlikely. Much more
plausible is a tightening up
on open fires burning
unauthorised fuel.
Still, stranger things, and
so on... If you?re uneasy
about woodburners,
check out some of the
alternative winter hotties:
contemporary flueless
biofuel designs by Le Feu,
new outdoor heaters from
Chesney?s and picturesquely
rusted Paloform firepits.
There are plenty of ways to
stay warm in style.
The plain and simple Linnea 4
fireplace mantel is suitable
for gas, wood, ethanol or
electric fires. It is available in
For details of smoke-control
areas, authorised fuels and a list
of Defra-exempt appliances, visit
gov.uk/smoke-control-area-rules
various sizes; the model
shown is 173cm square.
From �200;
paloform.co.uk
An interplanetary craft come
to discover how earthlings
spend their winter evenings?
No, this is the Cocoon Aeris
suspended fireplace. The
ethanol fire (W60cm x H38cm)
comes in a black or stainlesssteel finish and can rotate
through 360 degrees.
�290; wharfside.co.uk
This smart little
fireplace insert
from Jotul is called
the I 400 Harmony.
Bifold doors can be
parted to either
side for an open
fire, or closed for
a clear view of the
burning logs. It
measures H59cm x
W64cm x D42cm
and the cast-iron
body has a black
painted finish.
From �749;
jotuluk.com
The Ground Wood tripod
fireplace, by Le Feu, burns
ethanol ? so you don?t need
a flue for this portable heat
source. The powder-coated
iron dome (50cm x 30cm) is
mounted on Danish oak legs.
�399; skandium.com
Charnwood?s most
efficient model
yet, the Skye
woodburning and
multifuel stove
complies with
emissions criteria
that will come into
effect in 2022.
Shown in Almond,
it comes in eight
colours and
measures H81cm x
W51cm x D39cm,
including stand.
�785;
charnwood.com
Fireplace tiles from
Paloform are the
finishing touch
for a modern
hearth. Inspired
by midcentury
Finnish design,
these hand-cast
concrete tiles are
made near
Toronto. They
come in six colours
(Nougat and
Charcoal pictured).
From �0 a
sq metre;
paloform.co.uk
Aga?s Hanwood woodburning
stove (H96cm x W81cm x
D41cm) has space for storing
logs under the firebox,
making it practical as well
as picturesque. It?s made
of cast iron, with a sleek
Graphite finish.
�575; agastoves.co.uk
The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 39
A traditional
design gets a
modern makeover.
Stovax?s Vogue
Midi woodburner
(H79cm x W42cm
x D36cm) has a
bevelled cast-iron
door with a narrow
frame and an
extra-wide glazed
window ? all the
better to enjoy
the flames. A
multifuel model is
also available.
�345, plus �5
for log store;
stovax.com
Here?s a super-smart
brazier from Paloform.
The Bento, in 5mm-thick
Cor-Ten steel, is a
propane gas firepit
filled with pale grey river
Happy Cocooning specialises in
outdoor tables with inset fires. The
idea is that the heat is accessible
to all ? and the convivial warmth
encourages everyone to socialise
Once best known
for its classic
chimneypieces,
Chesney?s has
branched out into
woodburners,
multifuel fires,
gas and ethanol
heaters, and
electric fires.
Today it launches
the Heat 600
(H99cm x W67cm
x D48cm), a
barbecue that?s
also an outdoor
heater. View it
now at the firm?s
new Hampstead
showroom.
�950;
chesneys.co.uk
The interior designer Kelly Hoppen?s classy
new range for Chesney?s includes the
Hugo chimneypiece (H115cm x W135cm).
The style is modern but opulent, and the
materials are luxurious: the frame is made
from honed Azul Valverde limestone inset
with mirror-polished brass.
�340; chesneys.co.uk
rocks that contrast
beautifully with the
oxidised steel box. It
measures H32cm x
W81cm x D81cm.
�840; paloform.co.uk
into the small hours. This gas
Rectangular Fire Pit (H46cm x
W80cm x L107cm) is made from
concrete-effect composite stone.
�9; houseology.com
To keep on
enjoying garden
get-togethers well
into the autumn
months, what you
need is a firepit.
Garden Trading?s
large Foscot model
should keep the
chill at bay after
sundown, with a
raw steel dish
that?s a full metre
in diameter.
�0;
gardentrading.
co.uk
New Homes
France
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42 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times
Home
The conductor and pianist on
London life with Jacqueline du
Pr� and nurturing your talent
I
was born in Buenos Aires. My
family were not well off and we
lived in a flat where both my
parents taught piano. Every time
the doorbell rang, it was someone
coming for a lesson ? in my childishness,
I thought everyone in the world played
the piano, because I never met anyone
who didn?t.
My maternal grandparents fled to
Argentina from Russia in 1903-04 to
escape the pogroms. My grandfather was
16 and my grandmother 14 ? they were
put on the boat by their parents, who
were afraid they would be killed at home.
When they reached Buenos Aires, they
were not allowed to disembark because
only families had permission to enter the
country. My enterprising grandfather
said they should get married on the boat,
in the port. They did and went ashore,
and only fell in love years later.
Easter Island is
one of his dream
destinations
Barenboim has
had this Steinway
Model A since
the 1970s
What are your memories of
Buenos Aires?
It was a fascinating and cosmopolitan city.
Opera in the Teatro Colon was conducted
by tthe great musical figures of the time
?F
Fritz Busch and Erich Kleiber. I
gr up in the third-biggest Jewish
grew
c
community
in the world outside
the US and the Soviet Union. My
mother used to take me for tea
in Harrods, the most famous store
in Buenos Aires. That was a great
afternoon out instead of lessons.
W
When
I was 10, I emigrated to Israel
with my parents.
You travel
tr
all the time. Where is
home now?
My wife [the Russian-born pianist Elena
Bashkirova] and I moved to Berlin in 1992,
when I was appointed music director of
the Berlin Staatsoper and the Berlin
GORDON WELTERS/LAIF/CAMERA PRESS; MICHAEL WARD/ARTIE NG/MICHAEL NOLAN/GETTY IMAGES; MAURIZIO GAMBARINI/DPA/ALAMY
TIME AND
SPACE
DANIEL
BARENBOIM
Barenboim with his first wife,
Jacqueline du Pr�
few party pieces ? Clementi sonatas, for
instance. I always encouraged her to
play. It was lovely.
Jackie and I started living together in a
hotel somewhere in the centre of London.
Can you imagine? Then we rented a
basement flat ? also in town. Eventually
we moved to a house in Hampstead.
What are the perfect conditions
for practice?
I need solitude. That?s much more
important than surroundings or
landscape. I have a nice garden, but I
don?t look at nature when I?m at my piano.
??
Solitude is much more
important than
surroundings or
landscape. I have a nice
garden, but I don?t look
at nature when I?m at
my piano
Staatskapelle. We bought a house near
the international school in Potsdam,
where our sons, Michael and David, who
were then aged 9 and 11, were at school.
Berlin is surrounded by lakes. If I turn off
my phone and go for a walk, it feels like
being in the country.
What are your favourite possessions?
I don?t get attached to objects. Yes, I have
my books and pianos, but I?m not a
collector of anything. However, I do
still have a Steinway Model A, which
I?ve owned since the 1970s. I had it with
Jackie [his first wife, the cellist Jacqueline
du Pr閉, but I don?t remember exactly
how and when we bought it. Jackie
played the piano quite well. She had a
From left, the
Teatro Colon, in
Buenos Aires, an
early inspiration;
and the
Barenboim-Said
Akademie, Berlin
What are some of your favourite
concert venues?
I first played at the Royal Festival Hall, in
London, in 1956, aged 13. Even though
I was very young, the memories are
intense. The hall opened six years after
the end of the war. Germany lay in ashes
and so many Jews of Europe had
disappeared. London started to become
the centre of the musical world. The Royal
Festival Hall was, if you like, the church or
synagogue where it all took place.
I now have my own academy in Berlin,
the Barenboim-Said Akademie, which
brings together music students from
the Middle East. I also still perform
concerts for the MS Society, because
raising money for continued research is
so important [du Pr� died of multiple
sclerosis aged 42].
Where are your dream destinations?
There are two places on my list: a holiday
in the Maldives or on Easter Island.
What can music teach us?
As with everything else in life, if you don?t
have the means to develop your talent,
it wears off. It?s like the way a woman
looks different at 19 and 91. If you?re
beautiful and nothing else, you will be
an unbearable bore as a woman of 91.
But if you are 19 and interested in your
development and in the richness of life,
that inner beauty will remain at 91.
It?s the same with talent ? you need
curiosity and discipline. Although, for
such a disciplined person, I have been
overweight for most of my life.
Interview by Sue Fox
MUSICAL
MEMORIES
Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern
Divan Orchestra will perform Jacqueline
du Pr� tribute concerts in aid of the
MS Society at the Royal Festival Hall,
London SE1, on October 28 and 29;
southbankcentre.co.uk. The society is
also running a silent auction that includes
a private cello lesson with Yo-Yo Ma;
stopmsappeal.com
for about �0,000 ? and are ideal
for downsizers who want something they
can lock up and leave while they fly off to
the sun from Gatwick.
Why we love it Happily affordable family
life in suburban Surrey.
EARLSWOOD COMMON
Just over the road from the common, this pretty
19th-century cottage has two bedrooms, a living
room and an open-plan kitchen-diner, with
planning permission in place to extend this. The
garden has two patios and a shed.
01737 823894, hunterandcompany.co.uk
FIND YOUR
BEST PLACE
Check out our Best Places to
Live 2017 at thesundaytimes.
co.uk/bestplaces And tell us
where else we should visit
@TheSTHome
22 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times
Home Cover
This pink door in
staid Tunbridge
Wells hides a
playful and daring
refurb, says
Martina Lees
T
he shocking-pink front door
is the first hint that this is no
ordinary Victorian villa. Step
inside Niki and Kenton Jones?s
home in Tunbridge Wells and
the surprises continue, with jolts of colour
against dark walls ? and even a secret
passage. Its playful glamour won it the
interior design prize in this year?s Sunday
Times British Homes Awards, and it
features in Extraordinary Interiors, the
debut design book by the founders of the
e-boutique Rockett St George.
?That pink front door was the last thing
we did,? says Niki, 43, an advertising
executive, as she recalls renovating the
house in four stages. Had they begun
at the bottom, the door would have
probably been grey, like the top-floor
bathroom. But as the builders worked
their way down, ?you can see I got braver
and braver?.
It only spurred Niki on when people
tried to tame her tastes. ?Once the paint
swatches were on the door, everybody ?
the builders, my mum ? said, ?You?re not
going pink, are you?? The paint you can
change, so you?ve got to have fun with it.
Every time I put the key in the door, it
makes me excited about going in.?
The couple felt quite the opposite four
years ago, when they moved into the
four-storey semi with their children,
Amber, now 10, and Jake, 8. ?I was actually
quite scared of it,? Niki says. ?It?s a big
house ? it had a grown-up energy, not a
fun, family energy.? They had moved from
a terrace in Tooting Bec, south London
(?Small, and so bland ? everything was
neutral?), to renting a two-bedroom flat
while househunting in Tunbridge Wells.
They had planned to leave the capital
?when we got to about 40?, Niki recalls.
?Neither of us liked the idea of bringing
up kids in London because of those riots
[in 2011]. I used to cycle through Clapham
Junction to get to work, and that was
really badly hit ? and from our loft, we
could see Croydon on fire.?
As for where to go, they had no lengthy
deliberation over maps and train
timetables. Niki landed a plum job at an
agency in Tunbridge Wells, and within
weeks they had joined the ranks of ?so
many creative, entrepreneurial types out
here?, seeking good schools and greenery.
Kenton?s London job as a director at the
online travel agency Expedia is less than
an hour away by train. And the Kent spa
town is ?a fresher, cleaner, smaller version
of London ? it?s not as twinset and pearls,
white middle-classy as you think.?
Their house, however, was a less
obvious choice. ?We knew it had great
potential, but I didn?t love it,? Niki says.
They had been looking for a project, but
?not as big as we bought into?. Intrigued
by the sundial in the garden, they took
a builder along to view the house, for
which they paid �2,500. ?I think he said
?I can do all of it for a hundred grand?,
and that felt reasonable. But it was many
times that.?
In fact, the renovation came to
�0,000, with two years of ?dusting the
kids down before they went to school?.
READERS?
HOME
SHOWING OUR TRUE
COLOURS
Kenton and Niki didn?t sleep in their
bedroom for a year; for nine months,
including Christmas, the kitchen was a
Black+Decker workbench and a camping
table. ?It?s like having a child,? Niki says.
?I have forgotten the worst of it now, and
just enjoy the best.?
At one point the builders had to down
tools while the late neighbour?s heir
objected to the couple?s extension ? while
planning to build several homes on his
land with a right of way across their
driveway. ?That was a nightmare,? Niki
says. ?Big trenches outside were filling up
with water, until we figured out the
legalities and stopped that happening.?
In the end, the heir sold it privately and
the new neighbours became best friends.
?We go on holiday together and the kids
run to the different houses. It?s like a
neighbour love story.?
As with the neighbours, so with the
house. When they moved in, the large hall
was the worst room: ?We debated for a
long time over whether we wanted the
house, because the hall was so horrible.?
Now it?s the room they love most. Back
then, damp smells had wafted up from
the basement, which hadn?t been tanked,
while a triangular walled-in staircase
hung awkwardly over one corner ? a relic
from when the villa was split in two in
the 1950s. ?We saw that if you could
solve this, you?d get back that grandeur,?
says Jennifer Hamilton, founder of the
Vawdrey House, the Sussex architects
who oversaw the spatial planning and
project management.
Their answer to the staircase
conundrum? They hid the awkward
protrusion behind panelled joinery and
put a reading nook with a built-in sofa in
the middle. This is flanked on either side
by more panelling concealing secret
doors: one to the cellar, now a TV room,
the other to the gleaming drinks cabinet.
?There were two things I wanted in a
house ? a really good drinks cabinet and
a secret door,? Niki says. ?I got both.?
Inky emulsion unifies it all, a dramatic
backdrop for pink upholstery and
occasional chairs in lemon. Off to the side,
The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 23
SIOBHAN DORAN; PETER TARRY
Tickled pink
The Joneses,
opposite, at their
Victorian villa.
Far left, the dark
wooden panelling
in the hallway
conceals an
awkward
staircase. Bright
splashes of
colour in
furnishings, and
quirky lights
and accessories
create a playful,
glamorous style.
Extravagant
wallpaper adds
drama to the
downstairs loo,
below
TIMES +
One lucky subscriber
will win �000 to
spend on luxury
interiors at the
Danish design and
lifestyle store
BoConcept. Enter at
mytimesplus.co.uk
the downstairs loo dazzles like a jewel
box, pairing emerald wallpaper with a gilt
mirror from her mother?s loft. ?Every
room has something different to offer ?
for a different mood, a different occasion,?
says Niki, who chose the decor. ?I feel a
bit guilty saying that. It feels extravagant
for now, but it?s a house we?ll grow into.?
In the contemporary slate-clad
extension, glass walls slide away to the
garden terrace and a sunken trampoline
beyond. A carpenter adapted the existing
Smallbone kitchen, its once pastel
shades now a show-stopping Black Blue
from Farrow & Ball, buoyed by white
chevron tiling and Niki?s ceramics
collection on open shelves. Recessed
lighting accentuates the ceiling, which
has been lowered in the kitchen area
to differentiate it from the open-plan
dining space.
Above the table, built by Tandem, hang
five mismatched pendants by Rockett St
George and Alexander & Pearl (from �
each). ?I didn?t want three identical
hanging lights, I wanted to be surprising,?
says Niki, who took four months to
source all their lighting on a tight budget.
?I had a Pinterest board of more than
1,000 lights.?
All the luxe furnishings belie their price
tags. Niki mixed high-street bargains (she
visited HomeSense, the designer-discount
homewares sister store to TK Maxx, on
her days off) with the odd house-clearance
find, including two Ercol dining chairs
that she painted canary yellow.
In the sitting room, where floor-length
sash windows lead out to the front garden,
Niki juxtaposed four square rugs from
French Connection (�5 each). ?To get
one rug to fit this room would have been
thousands.? A vintage Heal?s rocking chair
from her parents sits comfortably beside
a cerise ottoman from Sofa.com. The
restored pink marble fireplace, a
behemoth that the Joneses had hated and
tried to sell, now comes into its own
against walls in F&B Lamp Room Gray.
On the first floor, the couple divided
a family bathroom into two shower
rooms: one is now the ensuite for their
moody indigo master bedroom, with the
other for the white tongue-and-groove
guest bedroom. Ceiling-height mirror
cabinets and a rich palette of patterned
and herringbone tiles make these small
spaces a treat to use. They also subdivided
Jake?s large room on the second floor,
creating a fifth bedroom.
The biggest challenge, however, was
the stairs. When the house was divided
in the 1950s, the owners built a wall right
down the middle of the grand staircase.
This resulted in an awkward layout. Every
second flight was narrow, with low
doorways and ceilings, and portions of
stairs that were dark. The Joneses
knocked out a ceiling at the top of the
house, so you can see the roof, added a
skylight and shaved back walls. That cost
about �,500 ? and the once cramped
semi now breathes again.
The best interior design responds to a
specific problem with a specific solution,
without simply throwing money at it,
says Susie Rumbold, president of the
British Institute of Interior Design and a
judge in the Sunday Times British Homes
Awards. ?That?s why we gave the interior
design award to this house.?
Niki?s advice for those contemplating
a similar project? ?Just have fun and
be brave. A lot of people who come
here say ?I wish I could be braver with
my house?, because they?ve chosen
palettes that are all neutral. Why can?t
you be brave? Who?s going to tell you off??
GET THE LOOK
l Lemon Fitz cocktail chairs by Swoon
Editions (�9; swooneditions.com)
l Round marble coffee table by
Rockett St George (�0;
rockettstgeorge.co.uk)
l Wallpaper in reading nook is Zoffany
Lustre Tile (� a roll; johnlewis.com)
l Ballroom chandelier by In House
Junkie (�0; inhousejunkie.com)
l Hall painted in Valspar Royal Navy
(� for 1 litre; diy.com); the front door
is in Dulux Russian Velvet 4 (from �
for 500ml; paint-direct.co.uk)
l Pineapple wall sconce by Abigail
Ahern (�5; abigailahern.com)
l Wallpaper in downstairs loo is
Jinsique in Garden by Kelsey Proud
(�5 a roll; rockettstgeorge.co.uk)
l Tassel free-blown glass wall light
by Curiosa & Curiosa (�5;
curiousa.co.uk)
l Ostrich linocut by Millie McCallum
(from �0 for a large original;
milliemccallum.co.uk)
l Spend on what stands out,
TOP
TIP
Niki advises. You don?t need an
expensive basin or toilet for a
luxury bathroom; instead,
create a focus point with
patterned tiles or ornate wallpaper.
24 October 15, 2017 The Sunday
ay Times
ILLUSTRATOR: MICHAEL DRIVER
Home
THE BEST
COMBINATION MICROWAVES
WINNER
Panasonic NN-CS894S
combination steam
microwave, 80/100;
�9; johnlewis.com
P 32-litre capacity;
1,000W; child safety lock;
drop-down door
P Freestanding, but can be
built in with extra kit
P Versatile: also works as
a grill, convection oven,
steam oven or combination
P Simple to use
P Perfectly defrosted meat
O Ready meals and jacket
potatoes cooked unevenly
RUNNER-UP
Samsung MG22M8074AT
built-in grill microwave,
77/100; �9; ao.com
P 22-litre capacity; 850W;
grill; child safety lock;
eco mode; left-hinge door
P Intuitive to use
P Plenty of useful cook and
auto-cook modes
P Compact
P Good performance
P Excelled at defrosting
O Grill temperature cannot
be adjusted
goodhousekeeping.co.uk/
institute
READERS?
CLINIC
SHOULD I USE
STICK-ON WINDOW
FILM?
CA, Putney
Francesca Ingamells,
St Albans
I used it in our B&B in one
bedroom that overlooked
a messy area next door.
Easy to fit and clean.
Angela George, via email
It?s hard to stick film on
without getting air bubbles
? a window-cleaning blade
can help. Instead, I used
etch spray from a craft
shop, sprayed thinly in
vertical and horizontal
sweeps for even coverage.
Melanie White, Duffield,
Derbyshire
I recently installed it on
my front door, bathroom
windows and half-height
bay windows so I could
have privacy and light. I
recommend Brume film.
l Future question
What do you swear by to
get rid of moths? I can?t
afford Rentokil.
Send your tips, tricks and
questions to homehelp@
sunday-times.co.uk
PROBLEM OF
THE WEEK
I CAN?T BUILD ON MY
LAND BECAUSE OF A
COVENANT FROM 1937
Q
I own a house on
a large plot
that could
accommodate at
least three more
homes. My title
deeds include a
covenant from
1937 that restricts
the number of buildings
on the land to one house.
This was put in place by the
owners of the property next
door when they sold a part
of their land. The people
named in the covenant are
long since deceased and
both properties have
changed hands many times
since then. This makes it
impossible for me to get the
written permission of the
vendor for any alterations.
What can I do?
Keith Scott, Middlesbrough
A
HOME
HELP
From an uninsulated conservatory to a dirty
statue in the garden, our experts offer advice
Q
I have owned a large
sofa for 20 years. It no
longer meets fire safety
regulations and I want
to replace it, but no one
seems willing to come
and remove it from my
third-floor flat. I have heard
that I need to book someone
with a chainsaw to chop
it up and take it away. Is
this true, and how much
will it cost?
CC, southwest London
A
The Salvation Army and
other charities are
certainly worth trying, but
you must make it clear that the
sofa may not meet fire safety
regulations. It is illegal to sell
sofas that don?t comply with
safety rules, so charities that
offer goods to consumers
would not be able to take it,
but that might not be the case
for those that collect furniture
to donate to people in need.
Local councils will usually
remove unwanted goods and
furniture, but they will not
collect from the third floor or
above unless there is a lift in
the building.
I have not heard of the
service you mention, though I
would imagine some removal
or rubbish-disposal firms
would offer this at an
additional charge. I spoke with
a number of removal firms
and found several willing to
remove furniture from the
third floor. Clearabee, for
example, offers a nationwide
service and says it would
remove your sofa at a cost of
� for waste disposal, plus
an attendance charge of �
(clearabee.co.uk). If there is no
lift in your building, there
would be an additional labour
charge for using the stairs.
You could also try eBay,
Freecycle, Preloved or
Gumtree, but make it clear
that the sofa is not fire-safe and
that it is up on the third floor.
Paula Higgins, chief executive,
HomeOwners Alliance;
hoa.org.uk
Q
I have a life-size marble
bust of a young woman,
carved around 1930 in
the manner of Eric Gill. It
lives in the garden and the
marble has blackened. I
would like to clean it myself.
Can you advise?
Anthony, via email
Restrictive covenants
are commonly imposed
to limit development.
The covenant benefits the
current owners of the
adjoining land, whose
previous owners imposed
the restriction in 1937.
You could apply to the
court to have the covenant
discharged on the basis that
it is obsolete, but this is risky:
the outcome would be
uncertain and the process
can be costly.
If it is possible to identify
the extent of the land owned
by the 1937 beneficiaries
A
Q
Clara Willett, senior
architectural conservator,
Historic England;
historicengland.org.uk
Starting with the summer
overheating, a different
roof would make a notable
difference. It would need to
be mostly opaque and well
insulated (at least 150mm of a
modern high-performance
insulating board), with just a
couple of roof lights. This
would keep most of the sun
out and reduce heat from solar
gain. You could also make the
roof overhang the windows by
more than is normal, shading
them against high summer
sun but allowing low winter
sun in. You could even add
external shading or blinds to
the existing windows, and
make sure the new roof lights
have external shades.
The winter condition is
more difficult to address. An
insulated roof will help, but
with all that glass, you?ll still
lose a lot of heat. If the
conservatory is built on a brick
plinth wall, you could add extra
insulation to the wall, internally
If the sculpture is similar
in style to an Eric Gill, the
surface may be quite
smooth and fine. Over time,
marble will erode and become
sugary, particularly in our
environment. The blackening
could be sulphation deposits,
but in this case it is likely to be
biological growth, possibly
algae or lichen. If this is the
case, clean the sculpture with
warm water and a toothbrush.
This should remove much,
but not all, of the growth: you
may have to accept that this
will be its appearance in this
environment.
If the sculpture is in a damp
area, or is overhung by trees,
then biological growth will
recolonise quickly. You may
wish to move it to a more
protected area or indoors,
where it will be less exposed.
If there are sulphation
deposits, they need specialist
treatment with chemicals.
The Institute of Conservation
(icon.org.uk) has a list of
accredited conservators.
I have a conservatory
that is too hot in summer
and too cold in winter.
It has a polycarbonate roof.
How can I remedy this?
Ivan Lawrence, via email
A
(as it may now be divided
into several plots), then you
could approach the current
owners to obtain consent,
but there is a risk that they
will refuse, which they are
entitled to do.
Alternatively, I suggest
taking out an indemnity
insurance policy. This
should be possible,
given the age of
the covenant.
Such a policy will
enable you to
make a claim
for legal fees
and building or
demolition costs in
the event that the person
with the benefit of the
covenant tries to enforce it.
The maximum amount of
the claim would be specified
in the policy, which should
be index-linked to keep pace
with rising property values.
It should also be granted in
perpetuity and for the
benefit of all future owners
and lenders. (They would
need to take out further
policies if they wanted to
build additional homes.)
You would need to show
the insurer the Land Registry
title and details of proposed
works. Premiums vary, so
shop around. The covenants
will still exist on the title,
but an insurance policy will
help ensure the breach of
covenant is not an issue
when you sell. Insurers
normally make it a condition
that the existence of the
policy is not disclosed other
than to any buyer and your
respective advisers, so keep
quiet about it.
Helen Sculthorpe, managing
associate, Farrer & Co;
farrer.co.uk
or externally, to reduce heat
loss in this area, but without
reducing the amount of glass,
or switching to triple glazing,
it will be difficult to make this
a warm space in winter. An
insulated roof will make a
difference, though.
Check with a structural
engineer what load your
conservatory walls can take:
this will inform what sort of
roof build-up you can achieve.
A conventional timber rafter
roof may be the simplest
option. Put the new insulation
between the rafters. You can
then finish the roof with
whatever material is
appropriate to the area and the
house ? tiles, slates and so on.
I would expect this sort of
job, with two double-glazed
roof lights, to cost between
�600 and �000.
John Palmer, managing
director at Enhabit;
enhabit.uk.com
DO YOU NEED HELP FROM
ONE OF OUR EXPERTS?
Email your questions to
homehelp@sunday-times.
co.uk. Advice is given
without responsibility
The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 25
We live on a damp island. It?s
damp when it rains and it?s
damp when it doesn?t. It?s
worse in winter, but not
much. The average relative
humidity for most of Britain
in winter is 85%-88%; in
summer, it is more than 76%,
and it tops 82% in western
coastal areas such as
Cornwall and Wales, as well
as Northern Ireland.
Granted, it?s pretty soggy,
but we are used to it ? we
have airing cupboards, we
cope. Or do we? Too much
humidity indoors is bad for
our bodies and our buildings.
The danger zones are
basements, bathrooms and
rooms with exterior walls,
but damp anywhere can
encourage bugs, dust mites,
smells, structural damage,
corrosion, mould and mildew.
Black mould is toxic and can
cause respiratory infections
or trigger allergic reactions,
asthma attacks or skin or
respiratory irritation.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
Mould could be caused by
dripping pipes, rising damp
or rain seeping in through
leaky roofs and window
frames, so tackle these
areas first if you?re having
problems. A newly built home
may be damp if the plaster is
still drying out, in which case
you should keep it ventilated
and heated ? and wait.
A common cause of damp
indoors, though, is
condensation, and that
needs vigilance. Cooking,
showering, drying clothes
indoors and even breathing
can all cause excess
moisture; droplets can then
form on mirrors, windowsills
and walls, particularly when
they?re cold.
PREVENTION IS BETTER
THAN CURE
To prevent the build-up of
condensation:
l Put lids on saucepans
when cooking.
l Open the bedroom
window for 15 minutes
each morning.
l Make sure your home is
well insulated.
l Keep warm: the ideal
temperature for living rooms
is 18C-21C, and for bedrooms
16C-20C. Even when you are
out, the temperature should
not drop below 15C.
l Leave doors open to allow
air to circulate.
cleaner, and the rag should
be thrown away.
If humidity remains a
problem, cover cold surfaces
such as water pipes with
insulation, install ventilation
flaps in windows and use
extractor fans in bathrooms
and kitchens. Move furniture
away from walls so that air
can flow freely.
TARA MOORE/GETTY IMAGES
HOW
TO...
DEAL WITH DAMP
IS THERE AN EASIER WAY?
l If you?re cooking,
showering or bathing, open
the window, put on the fan
and keep the door closed.
l Check for leaks under
sinks, fridge, dishwasher and
washing machine, as well
as round the toilet, bath,
shower and water tank.
l Try not to dry clothes
indoors.
HOW CAN I FIX IT?
Once you?ve tackled the
source of the moisture, you
can dispose of any mould. If it
is caused by condensation
and there is less than 10 sq ft
of affected surface, you
can do it yourself. NHS
Choices advises using
protective goggles, long
rubber gloves and a mask
over your nose and mouth.
Open the windows, but
keep internal doors closed to
prevent spores spreading.
Mouldy soft furnishings
should be placed in a plastic
bag and shampooed. The
mould can then be wiped
off the wall with soapy water
and a rag. Be careful not to
brush it, though, as this can
release spores.
When you?ve finished, use
a rag to dry the wall. All
the surfaces in the room
should be gone over with
wet cloths or a vacuum
Try flicking a switch. ?The first
and most essential measure
to restore moisture levels to
normal would be to invest in a
dehumidifier,? says Sally Fok,
co-founder and managing
director of EcoAir (ecoair.org),
a manufacturer and supplier
of air-treatment products.
?This will quickly dry the air
and prevent further breeding
of bacteria.?
Dehumidifiers also help
laundry to dry quicker and,
according to Fok, are more
cost-effective than tumble
dryers. Some double as
heaters, and could cut fuel
bills, as less humid air takes
less energy to heat. Which?
(which.co.uk) and Good
Housekeeping Institute
(goodhousekeeping.co.uk)
offer up-to-date reviews of
the best buys for your space
and budget.
LANDLORDS BEWARE
?Damp and mould are
undoubtedly among the
biggest problems in the UK
private rented sector, but
they are completely
avoidable,? says Kate
Faulkner, founder of the
consultancy Designs on
Property and co-author of
a report on damp,
condensation and mould
commissioned by the TDS
Charitable Foundation.
?They can lead to
respiratory and health
problems for tenants, but
landlords are legally obliged
to provide and maintain a
safe, comfortable property. If
a tenant identifies a moisture
problem in the property, it is
their responsibility to report
it in writing to the agent or
landlord. If there is no
response within 14 days, or if
repairs are not made, they
may be unable to evict the
tenant further down the line.?
For most of us, the open
window remains the way
to stave off minor damp
issues. And to get rid of
that charity-shop smell in
a little-used room, a can or
two of fabric freshener
should do the trick.
Cally Law
26 October 15, 2017 The Sunday Times
CUTTINGS
Home Gardening
A POTTED
GUIDE TO...
BULBS IN THE GRASS
While a lawn covered in
fritillaries is the stuff of
dreams, there is a balance to
be struck when it comes to
a sward that will be rolled
across or run about on. So
stick to early-flowering bulbs,
giving them a good six weeks
to die back naturally, after
which you?ll be able to mow
with abandon.
IN THE GARDEN
THIS WEEK
l Leaf-collecting time is upon
us, and it is worth gathering up
those that are swamping the
flowerbeds and putting them
in black plastic bags with a few
holes punched in the sides.
Place them in a dark corner,
preferably with something
heavy on top, and leave them
for a couple of years to make
nutritious leaf mould. See? We
are sanctioning slovenliness
in print ? don?t say we never
treat you.
Crocus is the obvious one,
perhaps most beautiful in a
single colour. C tommasinianus
is a charm and seeds easily.
Snowdrops look exquisite in
grass, where they are set off
perfectly against the green
and don?t get smothered by
larger-leaved neighbours.
Galanthus ?S Arnott? is my
favourite. Anemone blanda is a
beauteous thing, available in
white for minimalists and blue
for everyone else.
Keep things natural by
beginning in one corner of the
lawn and throwing a few bulbs
in the air, planting them where
they land. If you?re happy
with just a few, put them in
one by one with a bulb planter,
ejecting the cylindrical clod
back over the top of the bulb
and squishing down firmly.
If, however, it?s profusion
you?re after, you?ll need to
remove some squares of turf
and plant with a trowel as
naturally as possible, not
forgetting to put a few bulbs
right at the edge.
Laetitia Maklouf
l Get any alpines in pots into
a sheltered spot. It can be as
cold as anything ? think of
where they come from ? but
should be away from the wet.
A covered porch or the lee of
a house is ideal.
l Harvest your pumpkins and
gourds now, putting them
somewhere dry to stop them
rotting. We?re obsessed with
the #squashwatch hashtag on
Instagram, where all manner
of warty beasts can be ogled
from the armchair.
l We hate to mention the
C-word so soon, but it is worth
planting up paperwhite
narcissus for the festive season
if you want to deck your halls
with scented splendour on a
budget. They take eight or nine
weeks to flower, so now is the
moment. Put them in tall glass
vases filled with gravel or small
stones. This makes them far
easier to keep watered, as you
can see the water level, and
removes the need for support
when they start to flop.
cuttings@sunday-times.co.uk
WE DIG
A fairly specialised subject,
perhaps, but there is
something rather wonderful
about The Book of
Caterpillars: A Life-Size Guide
to Six Hundred Species from
Around the World (Ivy �).
With contributions from
leading entomologists, the
mighty tome does, of course,
serve more of a purpose than
as a present for insect-loving
children to put in front of
squeamish adults. We all need
to keep an eye out for
imported beasties such as
Cydalima perspectalis, the
box tree moth, a native of
Asia that appeared in this
country in 2007 and is
threatening to devastate
our box, both ornamental
and native.
FOLLOW YOUR
RACHEL
DE THAME
@RacheldeThame
T
NOSE
PART
ONE
here are a few key
essentials to
creating a
successful garden.
By which I mean
simply an outdoor space that
makes you feel good and in
which you want to spend your
time. Most obviously, it should
look beautiful to you, it should
suit your needs and it should
be appropriately planted and
furnished, according to your
budget and the time you have
to care for it.
I?d add one other to the list:
a garden should be fragrant.
Scent adds that indefinable
something that elevates a
garden from being merely
good-looking to a space that
brings intense pleasure.
Most of us will have felt a
wave of nostalgia as a specific
memory is evoked by a
particular smell. In a garden
context, it could be the
creosote on a newly painted
fence or freshly mown grass
that transports us to another
time and place, or reminds us
of a loved one.
Most obviously, scented
plants ? whether the fragrance
comes from the leaves, the
bark or the flower ? are
redolent of moments from our
past. The almost overpowering
sweetness of jasmine, hanging
thickly in the air on a warm
summer evening, reminds me
of a particular doorway
through a specific wall in
Puglia, around which stems
of the highly fragrant flower
were strewn. Thyme is another
personal favourite, as are
lavender and, of course, roses.
I don?t worry too much
about mixing fragrances.
When wearing scent, one
should avoid smelling like a
perfume counter, but in a
garden you can?t have too
much of a good thing.
Out in the open, one?s nose
The first of Home?s two-part series
on fragrant flowers sniffs out plants
that will fill the garden with divine
scent from January through to June
The Sunday Times October 15, 2017 27
GARDEN WORLD IMAGES LTD/GARY K SMITH/ANNE GILBERT/ALAMY
the first few weeks of the year.
Grow it around trees and
deciduous shrubs, or dot
groups of bulbs through the
border. Alternatively, put them
next to steps or in a raised bed
? you?ll be almost within
sniffing range of the sweetly
scented blooms.
Show and smell
Top, from left,
Dianthus ?Mrs
Sinkins?, Muscari
macrocarpum
?Golden
Fragrance? and
Philadelphus
?Belle Etoile?.
Above, Tulipa
?Ballerina?.
From far left,
Daphne bholua
?Jacqueline
Postill?, Lathyrus
odoratus
?Matucana? and
Rosa ?Ispahan?
gets a quick break between
plants and is able to
differentiate between subtly
varied scents without suffering
from fragrance fatigue.
For me, the important
thing is to have enough scent
in the garden all year round.
Fortunately, this attribute is
found in all plant groups,
from trees and shrubs to
perennials, annuals and bulbs.
Cast your net wide to select
the best perfume. As one
might expect, spring and
summer are oversupplied in
this respect. But one might be
surprised by the wealth of
scented plants on offer every
month, with midwinter and
the earliest weeks of spring
among the high points, when
the unexpected whiff of
perfume feels like a gift from
the gods.
When deciding what to
plant to ensure your garden
is never without scent, do
look beyond the flowers.
Fragrant foliage broadens
immeasurably the range of
smells on offer, including the
panoply of herbs. Those of
Mediterranean origin, such as
rosemary, thyme, sage and
lavender, are invaluable in
terms of layering on the scent.
One can also find fragrance
in stems, bark and fruits.
Finally, what you will find
appealing is highly personal.
What one person loves,
another may loathe. What one
finds overpowering, another
may hardly be able to smell.
WHAT
TO GROW
JANUARY
Chimonanthus praecox
?Grandiflorus? Winter
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