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Sarah’s dream property

Sarah Beeny tells us the must-haves that make her house into her ultimate dream property.

Making your house into a place that gives you a thrill of pleasure every time you walk through the door is no easy task. You may have the most beautiful house that is everything you dreamed of from the outside, but when people come to visit, they find there is no sense of you as a person in the fixture and fittings. Or it could be the case that you struggle to earn a living and live in one room, but you have that magic touch and visitors exclaim at how homely and personal you’ve made your living space. Turning a house into a ‘dream property’ takes skill, time and, most of all, loving touches. Here are the elements that Sarah simply can’t live without…

Sarah says… ‘I have to have a vast, openplan kitchen, breakfast and dining room area, but I definitely don’t want it to be contemporary. It must be filled with old sofas and have piles of dogs and cats everywhere. It needs to be a place where everyone hangs out, with massive doors that open on to the garden. It’s one room where you can all cook, eat and sit together in comfort.’

Open living space
Combine several areas to create a light, bright and airy room the whole family can enjoy

Bring the great outdoors inside with fabulous doors that make the garden accessible. If you don’t want folding, sliding doors, French doors can provide a more economical, way of combining internal and external space. And inside, if you have a poky living room and separate kitchen/diner, consider knocking a wall through to create a single, multifunction area.

Sarah says…
‘Sliding doors are essential in my home as I need to be able to access the outside space at all times. We have folding doors that
we can just slide open to be able to breathe in the fresh air. In my experience, the cheap mechanisms never seem to work properly. It’s well worth spending that bit extra for
a smooth operating system.’

Room for a little one
A bedroom should be an area where all members of the family head to relax and sleep. So the bigger the bed, the better…

There’s nothing like a gloriously huge bed in the middle of a bedroom to really create a warm, cosy feeling. And, as Sarah says, the bigger the family, the larger the bed should be. Of course, some of us are limited by space, so if you have to make do with a standard double bed, add plenty of pillows, cushions and throws to create that cosy bedroom feeling. Use a range of colours and textures for these, according to the mood you want to create in the room, but keep walls, floors and furniture neutral. Use soft lighting to create a relaxing, peaceful environment.

Sarah says…
‘An enormous bed is crucial for me and the more children I have, the bigger the bed I need. I’m currently on a bed that’s eight feet wide and that’s perfect for all of us because it can fit myself, my husband, our three boys and
the animals all at the same time.’

Two is better than one
Whether your bathroom is big enough to hold two tubs or just one, share the space with your partner to relax and unwind

Many couples enjoy the experience of relaxing together in the bath, but if your bathroom can’t accommodate two tubs and neither of you want to ‘suffer the tap end’, consider a tub with a tap in the middle. There are plenty of these in good bathshops in all manner of shapes and sizes so you can make the bathroom as contemporary or traditional as you wish. Add candles for soft lighting and to create a warm mood, but always be careful with them – especially
if, like Sarah, you insist on having a carpeted floor.

Sarah says…
‘For me a big bathroom is another must-have but it must be carpeted for warmth and comfort. It should also have two separate baths so you can talk to your partner while you are having a bath, without having to share the space and one person suffering the tap end!’

Office Space
Be close enough, yet far away. To avoid the distractions of family life, use an outside area as a peaceful place for work

The beauty of creating an office in the garden is that you don’t need acres of space and it won’t take away any valuable inside room, either. Use a small shed at the bottom of your garden, or if you’re lucky enough, a treehouse by a huge lake!

You’ll need an electrical connection as well as heating and you must ensure the office is secure enough to store IT equipment.

Sarah says…
‘The shed in my garden is my office and I use it all the time. I’d struggle to go to an office every day and be away from the house as I need to be able to work in peace but be near the kids too.’

photographs: istock, shutterstock

First Published in At Home with Sarah Beeny, September 2008

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