A house of many colours in Rickmansworth
PUBLISHED: 17:59 29 February 2012 | UPDATED: 21:08 20 February 2013
Meet colourful couple Iggy and Denise in a house that has been transformed beyong all imagination. Pat Bramley visits them
IGGY Skehill and Denise, his partner of 22 years, dont belong to the neutral school of interior design.
They like vibrant reds and blues and orange and green, purples and yellow, all the colours of a rainbow.
When they open the black front door of their 1930s house at the end of a cul de sac in Rickmansworth town centre and you see the stairs rising out of the hall covered in striped carpet with each tread and rise a different block of colour, its as though the fabric designers have let their imagination run riot with a kids paintbox.
Moving on from room to room you could be flipping through the pages of a brightly illustrated childrens book. The exuberance is infectious. Everywhere, the carpets and blinds, rugs and cushions, wallpapers and paintings sing out in bold, clear, joyous colours against a backdrop of chalk white walls and white paintwork.
Theres no doubt it takes confidence to go against the grain of the herds idea of whats current good taste in home furnishings. Muted shades of grey and beige just dont do it for this couple.
Iggy doesnt lack the courage to splash out with a technicolour dreamcoat. Hes a professional in the world of interiors. He owns The Big Basement Company, established 14 years ago, though he has been in the building business far longer than that. He knows from the experience of creating interiors for wealthy London clients what will work and what wont and he also knows the craftsmen who can produce innovative products that havent been made before.
But he did meet an unusual degree of resistance eight years ago when he took Denise out to look at the property he wanted to buy in Rickmansworth.
At that time they were living in a three bedroom semi in Harrow and with four children between them, they needed more space. We started househunting on a Thursday and we came out here and she saw the house from the end of the road and said, Im not going in there. She wouldnt get out of the car.
By Saturday we were ready to strangle each other. We came back and again she wouldnt look at it. So I came back by myself and on the way here I had to do an emergency stop when somebody pulled out in front of me and from a pile of about 140 brochures on the passenger seat, the brochure for this one fell out in front of me and I thought this is an omen.
I rang a friend who knew the estate agent and the moment I walked through the hall I said Ill buy it. I knew exactly what I was going to do with it.
At that stage the detached house on a corner plot at the end of the cul de sac had two large bedrooms and a single.
Iggy and Denise added a two-storey extension at the side and a full width single storey extension at the back. They also converted the loft space so there are now four bedrooms and three bathrooms on the two upper floors.
The ground floor has the original living room at the front. The purpose made wall unit on the longest wall is a focal point with its easily wipeable orange lino surfaces. Theyve used lino again, only this time red, to cover the desk unit that runs the length of a wall in one of the bedrooms.
The main feature of the house is the 700 sq ft open plan kitchen/family room. The 9.3 metre wide glass wall overlooking the garden is made up of glazed doors which glide back when the weathers good to create one arena-sized entertaining space combining inside and out. Outside weve fitted electrics at lintel height to take an awning which would stretch right across to the glass barrier dividing the decking from the lawn below. It would enclose the outside space of the patio leaving just the sides open.
Inside, a woodland scene covers the far wall of the family room. Its made of specially made wallpaper printed with a photograph of a woodland glade downloaded from the internet. It took two days to print, Iggy says. The paper is as thick as fabric and cost them more than 2,000. We went through about 150 different scenes but as soon as I saw it I picked this one, says Denise. When were choosing things for the house, I always know immediately when I see the one I want. It was the same with the orange sofa. Iggy always spends ages before he makes up his mind but invariably ends up choosing the one I picked out in the first place.
Iggy certainly came up trumps when he designed the breakfast bar with a glass montage of hundreds of cartoon characters at either end of the unit. The glass panel of square cutouts of cartoon faces also covers the surface of the footwell. He knows I love cartoons, says Denise, I always have, thats why he asked me to pick out my favourites from the web and he got them printed onto glass. The children love them.
The galley shaped part of the kitchen is lined with bespoke units made by a local guy in Croxley Green. The Miele appliances and full height fridge and freezer are enclosed in units with different textured doors to the rest but theyre still an integral part of the handle-less streamlined overall theme.
The floor to ceiling cupboards continue into the dining area where the central item on the cupboard wall is the cinema-sized flat screen television on a swivel arm which swings the telly out from its recess and points it towards the audience.
The spiral staircase in the corner on the opposite side of the room leads down to the basement.
Owning a basement company, it wouldnt have been right not to excavate tons of soil for a basement in my own place, it would have been like an electrician building a house and not putting in electricity, jokes the builder.
The basement contains the utility room, plant room and a gym equipped with some serious bits of kit but theres a further place for the family to hang out with their friends in the annexe at the end of the garden.
The dog house as it says on the sign outside is another colourful space with shiny red kitchenette, steam room, two double bedrooms for sleepovers and the main rumpus room with another Olympic-sized flat screen TV.
The owners love of colour really comes into its own here the different shaped display niches cut into the wall going up the stairs are painted with 27 different coloured tester paints and then there are the different coloured stripes in the carpets.
To achieve the stripes woven in varied widths on the floorcovering to suit the setting both upstairs in the main house and the annexe, Iggy bought industrial quality cord carpet in 26 individual colours and then paid a specialist carpet designer a fortune to cut them to size and stitch them together.
In all, says Iggy, in that area of the annexe, there is a kaleidoscope of 88 colours.
Even the bespoke vertical blinds covering the glazed doors are striped and naturally he had the doormats dyed to match.
There are TVs in almost every room including the colourful bathrooms with their dinner-plate shower heads and glass illustrations of exotic plants in tropical waters.
Even though the daughter of a pet shop owner who cleaned out hundreds of aquariums when she worked for her mum and dad has so far never been abroad I dont even have a passport she can lie back in her bath and look at a photograph of a paradise island printed back to front on to glass, like the others.
She says she now loves every square inch of the house she hated at first sight but Iggy wants to move on. He explains: Ive seen a farm where thered be scope to give the kids their own living space separate from us. In this economic climate its so difficult for them to be able to buy somewhere. Youve got to concentrate on whats important. Its not spending vast amounts of money on everyday things. Its looking after the family.
And thats why their house that looks ordinary from the outside but has the feel-good factor inside is for sale for 1.15m through the Rickmansworth office of Sewell & Gardner.