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Article by Cate Burren, of Angel + Blume, for Velvet Magazine (August 2018)

Cate looks at the thorny question of whether big is beautiful when it comes to the house you choose to live in.

Velvet Magazine (August 2018)

When choosing a house to live in, it is tempting to default to the premise that bigger is better. Those forays into the estate agents windows when on holiday or a sneaky glance at Rightmove when you have no intention of buying, tend to end up at a castle with its own fishing rights, or an extensive double fronted Georgian townhouse, imaging how idyllic life would be if one where the master or mistress of such a property. But I think it doesn’t take much of a reality check to imagine the headache of assuming responsibility for such an undertaking. Some years ago, Channel 4 followed Sarah Beeny as she wrestled with owning the crumbling 97 room stately home Rise Hall. The series started with the dream of paying £435k for an (admittedly crumbling) palatial estate where children and friends frolicked in the extensive grounds but quickly moved into revealing just some of the headaches of restoring and maintaining such a home. Beeny was brutally honest and managed to achieve an astonishing restoration, although the property is now used as a wedding venue in order to make it viable. The compulsivity of the viewing was about putting yourself in her shoes, with faint jealousy turning quickly to admiration then private horror at what was entailed, which included time away from family, legal battles, relentless hard graff and the requirement for a bottomless pit of money. This is obviously an extreme case but owning a large (even moderately large) home comes with cost consideration, and not all of them are monetary.

Christ Pieces from Cambridge Council via Pinterest

At the other end of the scale smaller homes and apartments, which make up so much of city centre housing, requires a different approach to living. You don’t have nearly so much maintenance, repairs, cleaning, general outgoings and responsibility for a property. You do however, rely on good public facilities which are vital if you are live in a compact space. A well maintained park nearby can become a fantastic alternative to a small or non-existent garden. My experience of close proximity to Christ’s Pieces is that it is better than any garden I have ever owned, or will ever own, but I had no idea of the investment required by local government to keep it that way. The Lido is a brilliant alternative to having your own outdoor swimming pool – admittedly you would never have to queue to get into your own pool but at the same time, you also don’t have to maintain it throughout the year. The same can be said for going to the cinema versus that fabulous media room you are just dying to build in the basement – and so on.

Jesus Green Lido from Pinterest

There is no right or wrong to how much space you want (I am not talking about the space we need which is an entirely different debate) but I think the ‘bigger is better’ assumption can be naïve and could lead you to a home that is too big and therefore not what you really want at all. So how do you decide how much space you do want to live in?

 

1.First of all, as with designing the functionality of any interior space, the question of what you are going to use the space for is crucial. Many of us have, for example, built wonderful extensions to our property only to find that parts of the old space become somewhat redundant as we gravitate towards the wonderful new parts of the building.

 

2. We all like to think we love the people we live with but how much time you want to spend with each other in the same room is worth considering. My experience is that we all live very differently – some people love being in close proximity at home and others much less so. It’s a personal choice but needs to be recognised.

 

3. How much space are you going to use for storage? Being honest about what ‘stuff’ you have, and want, in life is vital. The honest truth is that if you are a bit of a hoarder, you are going to need more storage and therefore more space.

 

4. I am always interested in how spaces can be used flexibly because I think we often end up with too many rooms (not necessarily too much space which is different) because we assume that rooms can’t be used for different things or by different members of the household. For example, you may well have lots of guests to stay sometimes but you don’t need to have endless guest rooms that are unused when a guest isn’t in residence. If planned well, a guest room can double up well as dressing room, a study, an additional sitting room/TV room and so on.

 

5. What public facilities are nearby and the quality of them makes a huge difference. This is not just true of urban spaces. Recently some friends of mine moved into a similarly sized house to the one they were leaving but with a much smaller garden. They are now in the middle of the countryside rather than the town which they enjoy and use regularly the surrounding rural space rather than a garden they would have to maintain.

A Guest Room/ Study Combo from Terry’s Fabrics via Pinterest

Owning any property takes some level of time, money and headspace, however small. If you are the homeowner, you can’t ring a landlord when something goes wrong. And it is a sliding scale – bigger may or may not be better, but there will certainly be more for you to do. You may well want the responsibility that comes with owning a huge house but it is worth taking the decision that it is what you want before committing to giving up the level of resource required for the ownership of a property without realising what is really involved.

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Property daydreaming is a very big part of my life, I can spend hours scrolling through houses online, pining after magnificent homes and thinking of how I would use the space myself. So of course when Rightmove posted a listing for a castle, I just had to take a look, and what a charming castle I found.

An Exterior Shot of Ince Castle

Ince Castle is not your typical castle, for starters its more of a manor house, but retains the grandly name, and in my opinion is quite deserving of its title. Originally built in the 14th Century in Saltash, Cornwall, Ince Castle was then re-built in 1642 for Henry Killigrew, and just like any good castle, it’s full of drama. The local myth is that Killigrew supposedly had four wives, each kept in their own tower of the castle, completely unaware of one another; true or not a little bit of salacious history just adds to the fun of it all.

The house sits on an almost island surrounded by the river Lynher, a picturesque setting for such a beautiful home. With acres of fields surrounding the property, and several other smaller cottages that come with the purchases on the almost island, it’s pretty much your own personal, private heaven.

A Birdseye View of the Castle and River Lynher

The castle has been whittled through many owners, however after years of being sold to farmers, primarily for the land, the house fell into disrepair. By 1960 it was owned by Patricia Viscountess Boyd, who unfortunately had to rebuild the house in 1988 after a fire broke out, supposedly as a result of Boyd leaving lit cigarettes around the house. For a house that seems to have been poked and prodded, burnt down or rebuilt every 100 years or so, there is still a gracefulness to the property that maintains its original authenticity.

The Library at Ince Castle

The library is a beautiful whimsy of colours and pattern clashes that always seem unattainable when attempting it yourself. From the blue wallpaper, boisterous carpet and even the books all seem talk loudly but fit together nonetheless. I especially love the vibrant blue ottoman and the portrait centrepiece.

The Entryway at Ince Castle

The entryway boasts an enviable amount of space, with a spiral staircase and wooden front doors that sneak a peek to the greenery outside. The drawing room is full to the brim with sofas and chairs in an array of textiles and fabrics; my favourites are the button-back green velvet numbers with the fun seat fringing, as well as the beautiful ornate dining chairs in the forefront of the image with a fun patchwork seat that shouldn’t work with the traditionally carved backs, but just does.

The Drawing Room at Ince Castle

There is a complete decadency to the dining room, from the lavish mantelpiece and the accompany mirror, to the rug full of pastel colours and ageing patterns.

The Dining Room at Ince Castle

The rug in this reception room is a beautiful, beautiful thing; the pattern for a start, and to quickly follow are the colours, peach pinks, midnight blue, green blues, it’s simply stunning.

Squirrel Hall at Ince Castle

The Billiard Room at Ince Castle

In every room there’s a little bit of detailing that is completely charming, like in the billiard room the velvet fringed hanging light over the table is just the perfect sort of slightly dated, but too fun to get rid of feature that I would definitely find myself keeping and using as the centrepiece for the room.

The castle has 13 bedrooms, unfortunately the listing shows just two of them. The first one is absolutely glorious, perfectly delicate and glamorous. The wallpaper is stunning, I especially love that it’s been featured on the ceiling as well.

A Bedroom at Ince Castle

A Jib Door in a Bedrom at Ince Castle via Country Life

Another Bedroom at Ince Castle

The second bedroom is reminiscent of a stately home, with four poster bed draped in fabric, the floor covered in little rugs and a lighthearted floral wallpaper.

View of the Pool at Ince Castle

On the outside, not only do you get a glimpse of the spectacular view, but the pool, which is nothing specially bar the rather interesting spiked pillars donning each corner, which adds a little dramatic flair to the poolside view.

If you have a cool £7 million to spare, Ince Castle is as close to owning your own island as you might get in the UK. Filled with character and history, it’s a dramatic backdrop that just calling out your name.

 

For more information, visit Rightmove, or Knight Frank

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Look at this little gem that I spotted when I was having a little me time on rightmove.com. It is a delightful modern movement house with what looks like lots of original features. What potential! If it was a bit nearer, I would be in the viewings queue. According to the write up, it was designed by the architect Melville Aubin and built in 1935 and it has been in the same hands ever since. It is currently on the market through www.themodernhouse.net 

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