Morning morning, get your coats because we’re off out of London this week. I’ve found two houses for under a million and they’re in Lichfield and Lincolnshire (Skegness in fact) so we’re actually going to the seaside and that can’t be bad for a Friday can it?
First up is this Edwardian house in Lichfield, which is on the market with Mr & Mrs Clarke for £950,000. It has five bedrooms and used to be a boutique hotel and restaurant. But it was built by a local builder to his exact specifications which included an inn in the garden so he could entertain his guests. Which is a brilliant idea and one I could get fully behind. Not least because it would mean I could slope off to bed and leave the late night revellers to their, er, revels without feeling that you were desperate to make them leave so you could go to sleep.
Sadly the inn is long gone and the current owners carried out a major refurbishment ten years ago to turn it back into a family home. But they retained and restored the original features so there are minton floor tiles, plasterwork ceilings, stain glass windows and a grand sweeping staircase.
The other great thing about Edwardian houses is that they tend to be squarer than Victorian ones so you get wider, more generous rooms which is certainly true of this property. There’s a large square kitchen with a generous utility room next to it. Then one square sitting room and one large rectangle leading into the conservatory below which runs the full width of the house.
The master bedroom leads onto a large balcony and has a walk-through wardrobe – cupboards along a corridor leading to a generous bathroom. There are two more bedrooms on that floor – one of which is en suite – and two more and another bathroom on the floor above.
In keeping with the current mood for colour that we’re seeing, it’s lovely to see so much of it has been used here from dark blues to green and yellow. What do you think? Ready for colour or sticking to neutrals for now?
This next house, in bracing Skegness as the old adverts used to say, is a study in neutral and it’s definitely very calming in feel. Although it’s the splashes of red that add vibrancy to the house above. If you took those out and replaced them with tonal shades it would also calm down the palette.
In much the same way that people layer whites and greys by bringing in different textures and shades, you can do exactly the same thing with strong colours. So rather than contrasting colours from the opposite sides of the colour wheel – blue and orange/red for example – you can pick colours that sit next to each other, so blues and greens or greens and yellows as you can see in the bathroom above.
Now this house is on with The Modern House for £375,000 and sits behind the sand dunes that line the coast just to the north of Skegness. There are three bedrooms and it has been recently redesigned by the architect Paul Scrivener, who described how to get there as you “go to the end of the world and keep going for half an hour” which is a brilliant description and entirely makes me want to go there – because it’s just half an hour from the end and not two hours which is an entirely different proposition.
The house is detached but is one of a pair that were built in the 1930s and is approached along a private road that has a number of houses and a beach cafe on it. There is direct access to the beach through the garden gate which leads up and over the dunes and the beach goes on for miles in each direction.
Inside the decor is simple and relaxing with wood panelled walls and neutral colours that aren’t dissimilar to the views outside. Which is another really good way of starting a colour scheme. And I did once have a long conversation with Marianne Shillingford, the creative director of Dulux, who put forward the theory that one of the reasons grey had become popular was that we are becoming a more urban society and so we have become used to seeing more grey around is the form of roads and buildings.
And another point to make on that is that if you look closely at the pavement it isn’t actually plain grey – it will have pinks and yellows and blues and greens in it. It’s never just flat grey.
Anyway, it was an interesting thought. Back to this house.
Upstairs the colour is a gorgeous grey blue – bit like the sky perhaps if we’re going on with the landscape metaphor. Although now I think about it I rather like it – I would never have considered painting a bedroom blue but this shade in this landscape feels like a really good idea.
I have never liked the blue and white decor so beloved by houses in The Hamptons as it feels like a cliche to use blue and white (and usually lots of seashells and rope motifs) but if you use the slightly more complex colours of the English seaside then suddenly it feels a lot more interesting as an idea.
What do you think? It’s country or seaside this week which will you choose?