Category Archives: Property


How to be green and stay sane


imageSarah Lonsdale tests the latest ‘eco’ products and sorts the fads from the finds. This week: an eco-makeover for an unlovely building.

The village of Over in Cambridgeshire lies exposed, like all Fenland villages, to the bitter easterlies that sweep in from the Russian steppes. Apart from a few trees, the flat semi-liquid landscape is exposed to the pitiless winds that can chill even in summer. Having grown up in the area, I still shiver at memories of seeing my breath in my bedroom on winter mornings.

The houses in Over are a typical mix of brick-built Victorian villas and mid-20th- century bungalows – rather unlovely boxes in shades of pink, yellow and grey.

One of these bungalows, however, has undergone an ugly duckling-style transformation so as to be unrecognisable. The exterior is clad in thin cedar planks ranging in hues from creamy beige to deep pink and the front façade has an almost industrial-style sawtooth roofline of three asymmetrical apexes.

Time to buy property in America

imageAmerican property prices are finally on the way back up. Move now to bag the best bargains, says Graham Norwood

Say it softly. But after years of misery, it looks as if the housing market across the pond is at long last making a comeback. If you’ve ever dreamt of owning a Florida holiday villa, or a chic Sex and the City-style New York apartment, it might be wise to buy it soon.

The latest figures show the first green shoots for the wider economy and a housing recovery. In the past six months, 1.9 million American jobs have been created, and unemployment is down from 10.4 per cent to 8.3 per cent. Economic growth is running at an annual 2.8 per cent. The car industry, often seen as a good barometer, is booming – General Motors sold 640,000 more vehicles last year than in 2010.

This is beginning to translate into optimism in the housing market. One builder, MDC Holdings, has reported a 32 per cent rise in orders for new houses. Another, Beazer Homes, predicts more orders in 2012 than in 2011.

Accumulation Plan and Investment Property

imageThe plans for capital accumulation are forms of investment that may have different specific purposes, but these tend to be construed as intended to give rise to a capital that can grow with the passage of time without requiring an excessive outlay. Moreover, this sum may be set aside to counter an expected expenditure in the future (from a car to a building, through the college expenses for their children).
One wonders at this point what the correct amount to be paid. The amount may be varied, depending on your abilities and your goals.

Property Management: Fair Housing and Tenant

imageTo succeed in your career in property management, you’ll need at least a working knowledge of Fair Housing and Landlord. Fair Housing basically protects consumers against discrimination based on things like race, sex, creed. It also has provisions that, unless the community is a community of older adults (55 and over), then the units must be available to be rented to people with children.

Chiang Mai Real Estate

imageBuying real estate in Chiang Mai may be an excellent investment when you are considering retirement in Thailand. Chiang Mai has become a hub of activity for expats who wish to retire out of the rat race and to the countryside. Speak ot us today!

The Thai government will be investing billions in the infrastructure of Chiang Mai over the next few years. There are currently 5 major property and developmetal projects in Chiang Mai estimated to be well over USD 500 million in value. These include an international exhibition and convention centre project on a piece of land covering over 300 rai (about 120 acres). There is also a development project for road expansion to facilitate agricultural transport, a logistics system and a project to improve a local bus terminal in the provincial seat to support millions of incoming tourists.

Eco-improving period property

imageSarah Lonsdale tests the latest ‘eco’ products and sorts the fads from the finds. This week: eco-improving period homes

It’s all very well eco-improving architecturally uninteresting homes. With apologies to residents of bungalows and houses built in the Seventies and Eighties, these often uninspiring boxes don’t look any worse – and usually look better – for extra cladding, new windows and altered rooflines.

But the vast majority of our housing stock is older, and considerably more beautiful. How do you eco-improve a period home in a conservation area without annoying the neighbours, falling foul of planners or desecrating a lovely streetscape? Yet rising fuel bills and concern for the environment are inspiring home owners to take the plunge with historic buildings in sensitive locations.

Sales of luxe doomsday bunkers up 1,000%

imageNEW YORK (CNNMoney) — A devastating earthquake strikes Japan. A massive tsunami kills thousands. Fears of a nuclear meltdown run rampant. Bloodshed and violence escalate in Libya.

And U.S. companies selling doomsday bunkers are seeing sales skyrocket anywhere from 20% to 1,000%.

Northwest Shelter Systems, which offers shelters ranging in price from $200,000 to $20 million, has seen sales surge 70% since the uprisings in the Middle East, with the Japanese earthquake only spurring further interest. In hard numbers, that’s 12 shelters already booked when the company normally sells four shelters per year.

Sarah Lonsdale: How to be green and stay sane

imageThis week: how happy are eco home owners?

Are Britons falling in love with eco homes? It’s something everyone involved with housing wants to know. Increasingly stiff building regulations coming into force over the next few years mean developers face ruin unless buyers are attracted to highly insulated homes full of eco-tech like solar panels and heat recovery ventilation.

Until now, the signs weren’t good: homebuyer surveys found stubborn resistance to the design and concept of eco homes, despite promises of vastly lower fuel bills. But that is starting to change, according to a report published last month, which surveyed occupants of eco homes built within the past three years, and older homes.

French living: Jacqueline Morabito’s home in Provence

imageInterior designer Jacqueline Morabito’s whitewashed house in Provence, France provides the backdrop for her meticulously considered design.

Consider Jacqueline Morabito’s pared-down 18th-century house in Provence, where everything from the degree of rust on the kitchen stools to the positioning of a poetry book on the coffee table has been meticulously thought through, and you feel your own dishevelment scream out like a badly behaved English child in a French restaurant. ‘I think about everything from the smallest detail to the biggest gesture,’ Morabito says. ‘These things cannot be separated.’



Where a property is held by a couple (whether they are married or simply living together) as Joint Tenants, upon the death of the first the property will automatically pass to the survivor. The share of the one who dies will not form part of his or her Estate and will not be affected by the terms of any Will. In effect both parties own the whole property rather than a divisible share, which is why on the death of one of the Joint Tenants the property belongs wholly to the survivor.

Rising number of landlords making a loss on their buy-to-let property

Rents may have risen in the private sector over the last year, but professional landlords are feeling the pinch.

The latest findings from the BDRC Continental quarterly Landlords Panel research reveals the biggest rise in the number of portfolio landlords making a loss since the Landlords Panel began in 2006.

The research shows that in the fourth quarter of 2011, the number of ‘portfolio landlords’ – those with 20 or more properties – who reported making a loss rose from just 1pc in the third quarter of 2011, to 8pc in the last quarter of the year.

From hairdresser to property enthusiast: a new style that turns heads

imageA hairdresser with a flair for renovation tells Zoe Dare Hall about doing up homes from rural England to Tuscany

As the founder of the Mahogany hairdressing chain, which has counted Samantha Cameron, Cheryl Cole and Greta Scaachi as clients, Richard Thompson has made some striking statements with his curling tongs.

But in the past 15 years, as his hair business has grown to include branches in London, Oxford, Bath and Manchester, Thompson has found another outlet for his creativity: property renovations. These have proven equally popular with celebrities, and include a penthouse in an old Highbury match factory, which Richard sold to the Alan Davies, the comedian, and a Georgian house in Hampstead that was bought by the singer David Gray.

Home renovations: restoring heritage properties

imageRestoring a heritage building requires unwavering faith, but the results can be heavenly. Genevieve Fox meets two visionary homeowners who’ve taken on the renovation challenge and won.

It breaks the heart to see them. Hidden away in city centres, standing in the middle of the countryside, or lurking in dark woods, wrecks are out there, wanting someone to love them. They come in hundreds of different forms: abandoned follies, ruined churches or deserted lighthouses. But they all have one thing in common: potential.

The romance of a railway home

imageFor one couple renovating a train station was a labour of love, finds Jake Wallis Simons.

It all started in Victorian times. “One of my forebears was the stationmaster of King’s Cross Station,” says Anna Gudge. “It was a prestige job in those days. He used to wear a top hat and tails, and roll out the red carpet for the Queen. He became a big part of family folklore.”

Venice: a new haven for overseas property investment

imageThe city of canals is again attracting wealthy investors. Caroline McGhie finds out why it is worth a punt.

In a troubled world, we gain solace from spiritual uplift and physical beauty. Few places have the ability to touch the heart and move minds like Venice. For decades it has been a place to visit rather than one in which to buy property, but gradually things are changing. British estate agents have developed connections there, and some big money is about to arrive. “Ocean’s nursling”, as Shelley described it, is becoming a connoisseur’s place to purchase.

First-time buyers return to property market

imageFirst-time buyers made a surprise return to the housing market in January while repossessions fell to a four-year low, in some rare good news for the property market.

The number of mortgages given out in January was 58,610, an increase of 30 per cent on last January, according to chartered surveyors E.serv.

Of these loans, over 15,300 were lent on homes costing less than £125,000, the price bracket that typically attracts first-time buyers. This represents a rise of almost a third since last year, and was the highest number of mortgages given out on such properties since March 2008.

Homes in search of a character

imageYour house is in the perfect location, but it’s as ugly as sin. Fear not. A growing number of people are turning to cosmetic surgery to rejuvenate their homes

You love your house, your street, your neighbourhood. The schools are first-rate. Transport links are excellent. In short, everything’s pretty much perfect. There’s just one problem: there’s no des in your res. Your house is a carbuncle. You would sooner reverse through the front door than look at it.

Edinburgh – The 10 best northern cities to buy property

imageFive years ago the towns and cities of northern England and Scotland symbolised the UK’s bullet-proof housing market. Prices were going up almost as quickly as new flats were being built. That has all changed now, of course. The days of endless price increases are over.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing, however. These areas contain some of the most spacious properties in the country. Large gardens are the norm not the exception, and a decent family house is the price of a Mayfair garage. After the Government this week confirmed plans for a new high-speed railway line linking London and Birmingham, the distance between north and south is set to shrink even further.

Upsides to the downturn for property investors

imageThe uncertainties facing the market in 2012 will create unexpected bargains for keen-eyed property investors. Graham Norwood explains how to make the most of the tricky year ahead. New Year resolutions tend to be about losing something from your life. Weight, cigarettes, or that third glass of wine. But canny house buyers will be doing just the opposite; using 2012’s uncertain outlook to make fresh fortunes from anticipated price cuts.

Industry pundits say values in most areas will tumble by as much as seven per cent in the year to come. This is thanks to a triple whammy of rising unemployment, public sector cuts and a weakening UK economy. Add in the effect of inflation, currently at five per cent, and the price fall could be the equivalent of 12 per cent, or £60,000 on a £500,000 home.

Green Property: Refurbishing derelict homes

imageSarah Lonsdale tests the latest ‘eco’ products and sorts the fads from the finds. This week: refurbishing derelict homes

It is a contemporary scandal of monstrous proportions. There are about two million families in this country who need homes but who are priced out of buying or renting because of a lack of supply. Yet there are thousands upon thousands of houses lying empty – nearly three quarters of a million in England alone.

In the Midlands, North East and North West, great swathes of perfectly sound Victorian terraces, in better condition than ones in Fulham or Putney that change hands for over £1m each, are standing derelict; boarded up, their roofs stripped of lead, the elements slowly doing their destructive work.

What to remember when you buy overseas


Wherever you buy, remember these top tips for purchasing property overseas.

Try to visit the country in the off-season as well as when it looks its best

Bargain on price, especially if it is a new-build home

Ensure you get a full list of relevant fees and charges

Remember to budget for any service fees for communal areas in new schemes

If buying new, research the track record of the developer

Get an independent survey

Use an independent legal adviser who knows the country

Never sign any document you do not understand

Plan ahead and change currency for the purchase when exchange rates are most favourable

Ensure flights to your chosen location run year-round and are offered by more than one carrier

Top 10 property safe havens abroad

As an economic hurricane rages through traditional destinations in Europe and the US, buyers must look abroad to these top 10 property safe havens.

The euro is in crisis. Stock markets are in freefall. Two prime ministers have been sacked. Italian debt is at record levels, and Spain faces an early election tomorrow. Across the pond, America’s annual budget deficit is measured in trillions.

One by one the traditional destinations for British house-hunters are becoming badlands. Rather than stay in the quagmire, it’s time for buyers to seek new pastures. There are always safe havens if you look hard enough.

Kevin McCloud: How to build your dream home

imageThe path to creating your dream home can be fraught with peril. Kevin McCloud, king of self-build, shows Christopher Middleton how to ensure your project is successful.

People who appear on Grand Designs are always running out of things: time, or money, mostly. But however bad things look, they never seem to lack confidence.

“On the whole, people who opt for self-build don’t suffer from self-doubt,” observes Kevin McCloud, the programme’s long-standing presenter, with a wry smile. “In the 15 years we’ve been doing the programme, I can’t recall a single self-builder who has ever turned to me and asked, ‘Do you think I’m doing the right thing?’ It just doesn’t go with the territory.”

That said, given the continuing growth in self-building, and the likely relaxation in planning laws, there will be plenty of people willing to pick McCloud’s brains when he speaks at Grand Designs Live in Birmingham next week. Before the ground is broken, they’re all ears. It’s only once the project is under way, he says, that self-builders put the earplugs in and the blinkers on.

“Of course without a certain amount of self-belief, nay arrogance, none of these projects would ever be built. If people approached the construction of their own home in a spirit of fear and dithering, worrying about all the things that could go wrong, then the majority of these projects would be killed stone dead at birth.

Older homeowners sell up to start renting

imageEquity-rich, older home owners are selling up and renting to release cash for retirement or the next generation.

The smart money is with the older home owner these days. Generations who have lived through successive housing booms are equity rich and in a position to downsize and help the young by releasing capital. They have more choice than ever before. Older people can join the growing ranks of more involved grandparents, or move to rented accommodation, or spread their wings and travel. Whichever way – the decisions of the old impact on the young.

Overseas property: Jade Jagger’s Ibiza villa for sale

imageJade Jagger’s chic Ibiza haven is on the market, a five-bedroom villa near the sleepy town of San Joan in the north of the island.

Put the names Jagger and Ibiza together and it sounds like a rather wild and unrestful combination.

Not so, according to Jade Jagger, eldest daughter of Sir Mick and owner of a tranquil five-bedroom villa (which she is selling) near the sleepy town of San Joan.

“The north of Ibiza, where I live, is completely different from the south, where that whole dance and club scene is based,” says Jade. “In fact, I first came to the island 10 years ago because I was looking for a place to bring up my children.

Online House Hunter: Middle ground

imageIF you want to live at the very centre of things, where should you start searching?

The centre of Britain has long been sought but even in this age of the Sat Nav it’s not easy to find. For a start, do you want the start of Britain, the UK, the British Isles, England or some other definition of your home land. And what do you mean by the ‘centre’ – the middle of a circle that encompasses everything, or the middle of diagonal lines from the furthest land points?

The BBC looked to settle the argument in 2002 when they reported on Ordnance Survey’s definition of the centre of Great Britain: “According to the Ordnance Survey’s definition, the centre of Great Britain (factoring in its 401 associated islands) lies on Brennand Farm, about seven kilometres north-west of Dunsop Bridge.” That’s Dunsop Bridge in Lancashire. But all you’ll find at the ‘centre’ is a peat bog.

My space: Tom Kay, entrepreneur

imageWest Country property special: Entrepreneur Tom Kay shows us round his home in St Agnes in Cornwall.

Ten years ago I was working in London as a chartered surveyor. I realised it wasn’t the life I wanted, so I packed it all in and fled to St Agnes in Cornwall. I grew up in Norfolk, near the sea, and studied marine biology; I always loved the outdoor life, and I think the water called me back.

This is the HQ of my eco-friendly outdoor clothing company, Finisterre. We’re based on the site of an old tin mine, 100 metres from a cliff top in St Agnes, overlooking the beach. The views are spectacular. The location is important for what we do. The winds come in right off the Atlantic, so when it’s windy and rainy, it’s extreme: rain hammers down on the tin roof – it keeps you aware of the power of the elements.

Oxford landmark 4 Folly Bridge for sale

imageMax Davidson studies the options for the buyers of 4 Folly Bridge – an Oxford landmark that is for sale.

Student lodgers, anyone? Whoever buys 4 Folly Bridge, a castellated property on an island in the heart of Oxford, will first have to decide what to do with the lodgers. There are seven of them, inhabiting four separate floors, and compared with Oxford students of old, they are living in the lap of luxury.

They have televisions, microwaves, fridge-freezers, washing-machines and proper non-creaking beds. And I only counted one spider in the entire house, which must be an Oxford first.

The students are studying at the Oxford Business School, which currently owns the property, and it is quite possible that the new owner will also see its buy-to-let potential. It is already licensed by the council as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) and brings in about £52,000 rental income a year, or 5 per cent of its capital value.

Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 review

imageThe world’s first-ever diesel/electric hybrid passenger car, the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4, goes on sale this autumn. Is it worth the wait?

Former General Motors boss Fritz Henderson described making petrol hybrid cars as “expensive squared. But making diesel hybrids,” he added, “now that’s expensive cubed.”

So welcome to the world’s first diesel/electric hybrid car, an expensively cubist creation from Peugeot-Citroën. First shown in Paris last year, this new driveline goes on sale in the 3008 SUV in November and in the following five months will appear in the 508 range and the RXH, an upmarket all-road estate. Yet even as it was being launched, rivals were muttering darkly that the Peugeot would be noisy and smelly.

How to fit a gym into your home


More people are putting a home gym on their wish list, but it needn’t cost a fortune .

Which room is the current must-have for the best houses – a marble bathroom, a restaurant-quality kitchen or an opulent bedroom? None of the above, it seems. The new craze in interiors is for a home gym, and former tennis star Tim Henman is just one of the many getting in on the act.

High-end houses won’t be seen without them, according to architect Nick Norden, who specialises in sumptuous dwellings in north London’s affluent Hampstead. He estimates that 80 per cent of his clients have a fitness studio high on their wish list – and they are prepared to build into the basement to get one.

A house where the Beatles once drank

Ed Cumming visits Heroes of Alma: a house that was once a pub where The Beatles drank .


Most old boozers have a celebrity story or two. Corner any publican in a quiet minute and they’ll tell you about the time when Noel Gallagher came in, or the month George Best stayed. But few can have had as glittering a parade of punters through their doors as the Heroes of Alma, in St John’s Wood, north-west London.

Located in Alma Square, a mere lofted drive from Lord’s cricket ground, the pub was the local for Abbey Road, the world’s most famous recording studio. When the Beatles were recording there during the Sixties, the Heroes of Alma was where they would beat a retreat for a restorative pint or two.

How to downsize and modernize

Ruth Bloomfield meets Julia and Peter Acornley – the empty nesters who swapped period for contemporary when they downsized their home.


When Judy and Peter Acornley’s children left home they realised, like generations of empty nesters before them, that a five-bedroom Edwardian family home was too roomy. Their solution to the problem was to build a contemporary house in the same town where they had brought up their two boys.

In the process they divested themselves of almost all their possessions, saw their timetable spiral, and had to cope when their builders went bust mid-project. And even though their award-winning new house is much smaller than their old, it actually turned out to be significantly more expensive.

St Lucia: Bowled over by the island of calm

Trust Andrew Strauss to do something a little bit different. When England cricket captains buy Caribbean property, you expect them to plump for the Royal Westmoreland in Barbados, a luxury resort where every other villa seems to be owned by a celebrity sportsman. Michael Vaughan has a villa there. So does Freddie Flintoff.


Not Strauss. The man who has just led England to world domination on the cricket field by crushing India 4-0, is a mild-mannered, retiring type who seems happier away from the limelight than hogging centre stage. He lives in the quiet Buckinghamshire town of Marlow with his Australian wife, Ruth, and their two small boys.

Instead of the glitz of Barbados, Strauss has opted for the understated chic of St Lucia. It is the most beautiful island in the Caribbean to its admirers, but not one where you would expect to find Simon Cowell chatting to Sienna Miller under a palm tree.

Ten tips for buy-to-let

We offer ten tips for a buyer who is looking to let their property out for the first time.


1 Look further afield
It may be that you can find more affordable houses, or keener demand for rented property, in a different part of the country from where you live.

2 Do your sums
Work out the monthly rent you can expect against the cost of your monthly mortgage repayments. Factor in the size of the deposit required (some mortgage firms now want 25 per cent), plus what happens if the property sits empty for a month or two.

3 Research the market as a whole
Consider the effects of the Government’s decision to cap the amount of rent it allows housing-benefit recipients. The same applies to the Article Four restrictions (on the type of tenants you can take) that some councils are planning to impose on landlords.

How bedrooms are changing for modern life

The pressures of modern life are changing our habits in the bedroom, says Maria Fitzpatrick .


Is it just me, or is everyone having problems in the bedroom these days? It used to be easy: bathe it in cool, restful colours and remove any daytime distractions that might jump between you and your full eight hours’ sleep. Now, that vision of the bedroom as a pared-back haven of calm is out of kilter with the way we live. With space at such a premium, bedrooms have to wear many hats, only one of which is a nightcap.

I know this dilemma well. In a cosy Victorian terraced house, my bedroom has become more of a secondary living room and an office. Blame Wi-Fi, too; now we can “plug in” to the internet anywhere in the house, day-to-day life, with all its paraphernalia, has sprawled with it.

Saudi Arabia takes step to build world’s tallest tower

Saudi Arabia is set to start work on building the world’s tallest skyscraper in a bid to outdo Gulf neighbour Dubai, which inaugurated its own record-breaking skyscraper less than two years ago.


The Saudis awarded a more than $1 billion contract for a spire that will soar two-thirds of a mile high, to be named the Kingdom Tower. It will have a Four Seasons hotel, serviced apartments, luxury condominiums and offices, encompassing, in all, about 5.4 million square feet.
Saudi Arabia takes step to build world’s tallest tower: The Kingdom Tower
A model of the world’s tallest tower to be built in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

For sale: Three of the best mill houses

We all want to live in an idyllic mill house, and here are three of the best country retreats.

imageDurnsford Mill, Mildenhall, Wiltshire

Riverside retreat £1.35m-1.75m

Looks Situated two miles east of Marlborough, this idyllic mill house, featured on the cover of The Field in 1963, dates back to 1778. Crammed with period features, all the principal rooms overlook the stunning gardens and the River Kennet, whose waters are famous for trout.

Sporting estates are the greatest prize

Every self-respecting billionaire should own their own country estate – it’s the ultimate prestige purchase, discovers Caroline McGhie.


It is one of the things we do best. Our sporting estates offer more romance, spectacular landscape and historical resonance than any in the world. The great salmon rivers of Scotland, the dancing chalk streams of Hampshire, the majestic hills of Leicestershire where the Quorn Hunt rides out, the woodlands and pastures of rural England teeming with pheasants – these are crucial ingredients in this highly specialised niche market. What new billionaire doesn’t dream of being monarch of the glen to his own Glenbogle?

Flower arranging lessons from Chatsworth House

Sarah Raven meets the flower arrangers who keep Chatsworth House brimming with colour


Chatsworth House in Derbyshire has just under 300 rooms. At least 10 and often up to 25 of these are decorated with flowers all year. On a weekly basis, the two flower arrangers, Lucy Wharton and Mick Brown, make up to 40 arrangements between them.

Chatsworth buys in very little, with almost all flowers picked from the perennial cut flower beds right at the top of the kitchen garden, where they have space for magnificent 30-feet runs of just one plant.

Buy a modern home in the country

More and more people living in the countryside are opting for modern homes rather than pastoral pastiche.


You might think that very few people go for uncompromising modernity in the country, yet those who do can attract huge admiration. The Turvill family built Bavent House at Reydon, on the reed beds of Suffolk, in what you might call “fairy-tale-modern” style. Clad in zinc and iroko, the house is reminiscent of a beach hut, while the uneven roofline is like an ancient settlement or distant castle.

Departing from the vernacular still takes courage, though. “We had to defend ourselves, explain why we weren’t doing a pastiche country house, but now we feel we made the right decision,” says Lucy Turvill, a pharmaceutical consultant who moved into Bavent House almost a year ago with her husband Richard, who owns a laundry business, and their daughter Clear, 12. “The materials are just wonderful. The wood has faded to a soft colour and mimics the reed beds.”

London’s rich sell as foreign money pours in

Britain’s rich and famous are moving out of central London’s most up-market districts and being replaced by wealthy overseas buyers, according to new research.

imageSavills, the estate agent, says £3.7bn of foreign money is pouring into the prime London housing market every year and especially into areas such as Mayfair, Kensington, Notting Hill and Chelsea.

The demand is leading to UK owners selling their homes and moving to outer London, creating a “champagne tower effect” with the distribution of wealth in the capital.

Savills’ report, called World in London and published on Friday, says British sellers of homes in central London have outnumbered British buyers by 30pc this year, compared with 5pc in 2008. Meanwhile, foreign buyers have outnumbered foreign sellers by 58pc in 2011, up from 23pc in 2008.

Secrets of America’s most expensive home

Bernie Ecclestone’s daughter Petra is said to have bought the most expensive house in America at £92m. Cassandra Jardine takes a look inside


A present-wrapping room. What a perfectly lovely idea. A permanent home for those messy rolls of paper, string and tags is one of those little luxuries that we all need but never realised, until Petra Ecclestone, Bernie’s younger daughter, showed us by buying, reputedly, the most expensive house in America as her second home.

With her £56 million Chelsea home undergoing a two-year renovation, the F1 heiress can now nip off to her new pied-à-terre in LA to give a boost to her model/actress/designer career plans. With Manor House in Bel Air – on the market for $150 million (£92 million) – she has bagged the essence of the look-at-me-I’m-rich aesthetic. With 56,500 sq ft of floor space, this 1988 chateau is larger than Versailles, but considerably less classy.

Embracing homes from the seventies

Why homes built in the seventies are worth more than a second look.

imageFew eras have committed more heinous crimes against good taste than the Seventies. Who can forget all those shaggy carpets, bean bags and lava lamps, to say nothing of the massive sofas and the starburst clocks on the wall.

And why did people suddenly decide that turquoise, lime green and orangey brown looked good?

Yet not everything about Seventies homes was equally vile. We may snigger now at the naff lounge in Abigail’s Party, but the decade’s homes had redeeming features too.

Dumfries House: a Sleeping Beauty brought back to life by the Prince of Wales

Saved by Prince Charles from the auctioneer’s hammer, Dumfries House – a time capsule of 18th-century furnishing – has been restored to its former glory Dumfries House has been portrayed as an 18th-century Sleeping Beauty.


Adam-designed and Chippendale-furnished, it remained untouched for 250 years, so the story goes, before being kissed by a prince and startled into trembling new life. Astoundingly, this fairy tale is largely true.

Until this gem of an estate was ‘saved for the nation’ in June 2007, few people even knew of its existence. Yet its contents, dating from the mid-1750s, when it was built by the 5th Earl of Dumfries, include at least 50 pieces by the great British furniture maker Thomas Chippendale – some specially made for the house – along with the finest surviving collection of carved Scottish rococo furniture.

Expats expand horizons in the quest to live the dream


Adventurous Britons are seeking new places to settle, says Laura Henderson.

The global recession has cast a pall on many of life’s “big” adventures. Take the legions of eurozone émigrés who, until recently, were enjoying sun, sea and sand on fixed sterling incomes from savings and pensions.

Have we got mews for you?


The rear quarters, once just for servants and horses, are enjoying a revival by offering a taste of village life in the heart of London, says Graham Norwood

Lords and ladies might still rule in Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs, but in the property world the servants are taking their revenge. Mews houses – staff quarters and stables once owned by Britain’s grandest families – are back in fashion.

The chocolate-lovers’ good homes guide


High-end foodie shops are a sure sign of a buoyant property market, says Caroline McGhie

Who would have thought that chocolatiers and cake-bakers could be wealth indicators in an area? But if you think about it, those handmade truffles and macaroons can be bought only where disposable incomes are high. Even in these economically challenged times, though spending has been cut back on holidays it has increased on cupcakes. To seek out the most buoyant local property markets you could do worse than follow your sweet tooth.

My space: Fiona Goble, craft author


Craft Author and knitting blogger Fiona Goble shows us round her kitchen extension in Hertfordshire

This sunny room in our house in Hertfordshire is an extension of the kitchen. It has a skylight, so even on a dark day it’s lovely and bright. I have a workroom upstairs, but I do all my knitting here – you can see all the colours as they are. It also means I can put the washing on or stir the spag bol as I’m working.

A perfect classical house


The Pediment in Northamptonshire is a display of British classical style at its best, discovers Clive Aslet

The sun is shining, tea and Victoria sponge are on the terrace. A magnolia in full flower at the front of the house completes the scene. This is The Pediment, in the stone-built Northamptonshire village of Aynho, the remarkable home of John Jackson, the lawyer, businessman, author and countryside campaigner, and his wife, Rowena.

How to go green in style


Sarah Lonsdale tests the latest ‘eco’ products and sorts the fads from the finds. This week: a luxury finish

When it comes to home interiors the prefix “eco” still has the tendency to conjure up images of hair shirts. And those on a budget or who want to be really saintly can always find reclaimed wall tiles or rustically finished tables from reused floor planks for their homes.

Chillingham castle: A splendid recovery


A crumbling northern castle with a proud history has been rescued by an English eccentric, whose whimsical collections have breathed new life into the building

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