Model and television personality Abbey Clancy first bought in leafy Surrey with husband Peter Crouch, having previously moved regularly and rented.
Despite a few DIY painting attempts and a random picture purchase, Abbey got the property exactly how she wanted it.
She has now teamed up with design brand Andrew Martin to create a range of oversized throws.
When did you buy your first home?
The first home we bought was in Surrey over ten years ago.
Why did you decide to buy at that point in your life?
Being married to a footballer we were constantly moving around as my husband moved to and from different clubs, so we rented for a long time.
When I got pregnant with Sophia, we felt we needed a place to call home and finally settled down.
What kind of place did you go for?
It was a new-build house — Peter actually picked it. I wasn’t crazy about the look of it, but we were so excited to finally have our own house to begin our little family.
With a new-build, you can really add your own stamp to an interior and make it into your own home and personal style. It had a homely feel which I loved and a beautiful garden.
Funnily enough, most of the things I bought at the time were from Andrew Martin. This was definitely the start of my interest in interior design — I loved finding ways to add character to a new-build home.
What made you fall in love with it?
It would have to be the garden. It felt like we were in the middle of the forest, with beautiful mature trees and lots of flowers.
We had a family of deer at the bottom of the garden, and I loved watching them, it was so peaceful and magical.
What did you do with the place?
After years of renting, I was delighted when we moved into our first home. I decided to decorate our house with neutral tones, and I added colour by using artwork.
My favourite room that I decorated in that house would have to be Sophia’s bedroom — it was all white, and I chose beautiful French furniture.
Did you have any DIY or decorating disasters?
I’m very impatient so I would start painting walls myself, and it would be a disaster and had to be redone by a professional.
Pete would also buy random things for the house that I would hide as they didn’t fit in with my schemes.
He once bought me a painting of pears — he was delighted with it. I came home and it was hanging on the wall wonky where he had put it up himself.
What advice for anyone buying a first home?
I’d say most importantly take your time — you need to fall in love with the place whatever your budget is.
I’d definitely say trust your gut — I rely on my gut feeling. I know as soon as I walk into a place if it’s the one or not.
Don’t rush decorating. I’d say live in your home for a while before making any changes to avoid mistakes and wasting money.
What is the best thing about buying a property?
I love a transformation. I feel like I have a good vision when it comes to doing up a house, something Pete finds a bit more difficult, but thankfully he trusts the process. I love making a house a home, that’s where I feel my strength is.
My style is quite eclectic. I’m drawn to beautiful antique pieces such as painted furniture.
It was important to me that my house felt elegant and comfortable and not too precious. I wanted it to feel full of love, character and life and to reflect us as a family.
Any tips for furnishing a first home?
I really would recommend taking your time with decorating. Live in the space, learn your design style, there’s nothing worse than rushing painting and then regretting it a few years down the line.
Plan your rooms, don’t just buy things for the sake of it otherwise you’ll regret it in the long term. Buy things you love as you will always love them — view interior accessories as an investment for your home.
A home can’t be created overnight in my opinion. I love to collect special pieces and go to antique fairs and love to bargain hunt. I love second-hand treasures, I have a vintage Spanish chest and a wooden rocking horse, from the antique fairs at Ardingly and Kempton Park.
I don’t love that interior-designed look. You can’t just go to a shop and buy it all — you have to collect pieces over time.
What sparked this tie-up with Andrew Martin?
Having shopped at Andrew Martin for over ten years, I actually first met Martin Waller (the founder of the brand) properly at his Wimbledon outlet.
About a year ago we got talking and he offered to come and help me with my house, which I couldn’t believe. I’ve been a huge fan of his work and unique vision for so long, so I was utterly delighted — but I also felt so nervous about him coming to my home.
Let’s move to: Surrey
A combination of picture-postcard villages, attractive market towns and rolling countryside make Surrey a very desirable place to live.
It is also England’s most densely wooded county — one-fifth of its area is covered in trees — boasts more golf courses than anywhere else in England, and has the south east’s highest point at Leith Hill.
All this doesn’t come cheap. Savills found that 14 wards have an average sale price of £1million-plus, and according to Zoopla, eight of the ten most expensive roads outside London are in Surrey.
Most of these are in Virginia Water, on the north-east side, where the average house changes hands for a whopping £1.63million.
Elton John and Cliff Richard are among the former residents of the uber-exclusive Wentworth estate. The so-called Golden Triangle, prime stockbroker belt territory around Cobham, Esher, Weybridge and Walton-on-Thames is another extremely affluent enclave.
Fortunately there are far more affordable pockets. First-time buyers should take a look at Redhill, near Gatwick Airport, where various new apartment schemes are offering Help to Buy, and at just over £444,000 the average house price is well below the Surrey average of nearly £632,000.
The town also benefits from fast trains (circa 30 minutes to London Bridge, slightly longer to Victoria) though the commute from most parts of the county takes under the hour.
Bagshot, Woking, Caterham and Horley are also worth investigating if you’re on a tight budget.
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