‘WE CALL OUR HOME
“The White House” because the previous owners had painted everything – inside and out – in that go-to safe shade,’ says Greg Duke-ambridge of his now-colourful home. ‘They did us a favour in giving us such a blank canvas and made it easy to visualise how we could turn it into something we would want to live in. It may have been a little harder if it had been wall-to-wall swirls and chintz.’
Greg and his husband Nick have history when it comes to the challenge of turning a lacklustre property into a place with pizzazz. Their four-storey Victorian terrace is the third home they’ve created together in eight years. ‘We started with a small two-bedroom flat, renovated it and loved the whole experience,’ explains Greg. ‘Then, four years later, we sold it, bought another place and did it all over again.’
You could say they’re becoming hooked on the renovation process which, enviably, they seem to have down to a fine art. The building work on this considerable project took a mere six months and included a kitchen extension, loft conversion and major reworking of the rest of the space. What’s their secret? ‘Planning, in a word,’ says Greg. ‘We worked out every inch of space to the last millimetre and sourced major items – from taps and windows to floors and cupboards – before work began.’ Having a good builder – one that had done work at Greg’s office – was crucial too, as was hands-on project management. ‘I took Fridays off during the whole process so I could oversee the build,’ says Greg. ‘As it progressed, I was working on it for hours in the evenings as well, sourcing more materials and then visiting the site. But even then it was quite tough.’ That sounds like an understatement, but the pair’s can-do attitude meant problems stayed as molehills rather than morphing into mountains.
They added two bedrooms in the loft, extended into the side return, took down walls and reworked the entire lower-ground floor. This had previously been a labyrinth of rooms, but has now given them an extra bedroom, plus an en suite, cloakroom/utility room and the biggest bonus, a spacious kitchen-diner, illuminated with skylights.
Their playful eye for design is reflected in the colour pops around the house and witty flourishes that bounce off the walls. ‘We love the sunshine and we got married under a palm tree in Ibiza,’ says Greg. ‘So there are lots of palm leaves, flamingos and parrots – we call it “Tropicana Chic”.’ But these items are cleverly juxtaposed with more grown-up pieces, such as the classic sofas, chairs and touches of antique brass, making the overall look fun with its feet firmly on the ground. Although it’s just the two of them, the couple utilise every inch of the house. ‘We have people staying a lot and need no excuse to entertain,’ says Greg. His mother, who lives in Mexico where he was born, was a recent guest. ‘She feels very at home here, despite the weather, and likes my Mexican touches around the house, like the skulls and Day of the Dead images.’
Not surprisingly, Greg and Nick haven’t ruled out another move before too long. ‘There’s no getting away from it; we are definitely becoming renovation addicts,’ admits Greg. ‘In a year or two, we’ll probably do it all over again and finally get a dog. We’ll switch things up a notch but, without a doubt, keep a sense of fun.’ Watch this space…
Greg and Nick’s house is available as a location through shootfactory.co.uk