Property of the month - 'Earthy, ethnic and eclectic'

PUBLISHED: 01:17 18 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:24 20 February 2013

Property of the month - 'Earthy, ethnic and eclectic'

Property of the month - 'Earthy, ethnic and eclectic'

Filling your home with beautiful things need not mean always buying new. Pat Bramley meets a homeowner who likes to put everything to good use...

ANGELA Bailey, UK marketing manager for KitchenAid, is a hoarder and proud of it.

She cant let anything worth recycling go to waste, regardless of transport costs or the inconvenience of storing it until it can be re-used. She sums up her personal style of homemaking as earthy, ethnic and eclectic.

I love things with a history, she says. Theres only one style I like. I know what I want, I can see it in my mind. And I love colour.

In the recently extended kitchen of her mid-terrace house in Harpenden, the shiny red iconic KitchenAid appliances beloved of celebrity chefs take pride of place on free standing cupboards made from salvaged oak doors and window shutters she found on a building site when she was living in Portugal in the 80s and 90s.

Builders were renovating a house, taking out these beautiful old windows and putting in plastic the memory of such architectural vandalism still makes her shudder. The window shutters and interior doors were just lying in a heap on the ground. They said they were going to burn them so I collected them straightaway. They still have their original hinges.

'Her home is a treasure chest of gemsand the queen of recycling couldnt be happier'

Before moving abroad, Angela lived in Hertfordshire and had trained as an assistant buyer for Etam and started a childrenswear business. Her career to date has been as varied and interesting as the items which furnish her home.

During her time in Portugal she married her photographer boyfriend and they had two children but after the marriage broke up Angela decided to come back to England with her daughter, Megan, then nine and son Oliver, then seven.

To start with they lived with her mother in Flamsted while she looked for somewhere to buy in the catchment area of good schools. Everyone advised me to check out the schools before deciding where to live. Thats what brought me to Harpenden. There are three really good secondary schools here.

Her first job after returning to Hertfordshire as a single mum with two children to support was teaching English as a second language to foreign students. Then 13 years ago she was taken on by KitchenAid, a career move made in heaven for a foodie who loves cooking.

Initially she was hired for two days a week to train staff to demonstrate the appliances in department stores. From there she graduated to full-time, eventually being promoted to senior jobs in sales and marketing. She is now based at home running her own company and through that masterminds KitchenAids teams of demonstrators.

An Australian friend staying with them spotted the house for sale in Luton Road in the estate agents window. It was one of the first Id looked at. I liked it immediately and bought it. The 1930s mid-terrace house cost her 86,000. That was in 1996. Its worth well over 400,000 now. Prices have shot up here.

To give her new home the earthy character thats her style, waiting in the wings was the container full of salvaged building materials gathered on her travels but in the early years there wasnt much cash to make major alterations.

I didn't have any money. Ive had to do the restoration bit by bit in stages, she points out. Its taken me 15 years.

The greatest changes happened in the past year.
Her newly extended kitchen incorporates two of KitchenAids latest fridge drawers and a six-burner Lacanche range cooker. The splash-back depicting a tree full of yellow birds and ripe pears was specially made for her at a pottery in Portgual using hand-painted tiles. Opposite the cooker is a circular chopping block standing on what looks like a tree trunk. I got it from a butcher in Kent before I moved to Portugal. I took it with me out there and it came back with me. Its wonderful.

The doors on the glass cupboard on the same side of the kitchen as the chopping block came from shutters taken from an old gothic window from India she bought from a shop in Glastonbury. I took the glass window out of the carved wood frame and put a mirror in it and used the shutters for the doors of the wall cupboard. The mirror hangs on the wall in the open-plan dining area.

Angelas most recent find is the 200-year-old Scandinavian wall cupboard with the date 1797 etched on the top. I love the tattiness of it, she laughs. The faded paint is a peacock green muted peacock colours crop up everywhere. In a stronger shade of peacock green is the intricately carved narrow wooden panel hanging on a pillar facing the patio. I found it at a reclamation yard in Wells. I had to have it.

'The doors on the glass cupboard came from shutters taken from an old gothic window from India'

All the cabinet making and bespoke carpentry in Angelas kitchen and throughout the house is the work of her sisters husband Neil Griffin. He made the oak worktops and carved the slots for the draining board from wood he bought himself and he made the cupboards and even the skirting boards from my salvaged doors and shutters. Hes a gifted craftsman.

All around the kitchen and the dining area are shelves for Angelas collection of pots and pans and pottery. One king-sized patterned china serving dish brought home from Portugal is used each Christmas for her signature pavlova which she serves to demonstrators along with champagne. The pavlova sits in the middle of the dish surrounded by fresh flowers. It looks so festive. Ive always had a passion for plates.
She also has a passion for thimbles and tiny porcelain painted boxes. Theyre displayed in a waist-high glass cabinet in the sitting room. I bought the cabinet for 1 from a chemist in St Albans who was chucking it out.

The sitting room was the first room she worked on after she moved in.
I got rid of the gas fire and opened up the fireplace and took up all the carpets. In here was a thick, thick swirly purple carpet.

The two matching armchairs have recently been re-upholstered and re-covered in a striped velour velvet. The chairs were my exs grandfathers. Theyre 120 years old. They look modern. You can buy the same shaped chairs in furniture stores now. Angela is also proud of her dining room curtains. They were made by Mulberry. Wonderful quality. I bought them from a second-hand shop in St Albans.

Not everything she buys from a reclamation centre is old. The Scandinavian wood burning stove in the dining room came from an architectural salvage yard in Colney Heath, as did the kitchen sink. Theyre both new models.

And the two-metre high, three-quarters-of-a-metre wide, red radiator on the wall opposite the wood burning stove is also new. I bought that on a whim, she confesses with a grin as though it was out of character. I was walking up Holywell Hill in St Albans and saw it in Walney Radiators. I just loved it. It heats the whole room if I havent lit the fire.

The dining room table which is large enough to seat eight is new to Angela but like pretty much everything else it has a past. She bought it from her colleague when Jean was downsizing to a smaller property. Jean says her father-in-law rescued it many years ago from a landfill tip. Its now beautifully restored and a handsome antique but it will soon be able to seat even more. Angelas gem of a brother-in-law is currently making another leaf.

Her passion for hanging onto much loved pieces of furniture is evident upstairs too. Megans room is still furnished with the hand-painted white bedroom furniture decorated with garlands of flowers her parents bought for her in Portugal when she was small.

Angela sleeps in the four-poster bed her ex made as his first piece of work when he went to classes, having decided hed like to become a professional carpenter. The two end posts of the bed are festooned with colourful clothes and dangly necklaces. Her private domain in the attic looks like an actresss dressing room acting being another career her vibrant fun-loving personality was drawn to.

Of course theres still work she plans to do on the house. I want to open up the eaves to make a proper dressing room. The old water tank has been taken out so theres plenty of space and I also want to decorate the bathroom. The bath came from Colney Heath the pattern on the outside was painted for me by a Brazilian. The loo is 100 years old and the basin came from someones house.

What with her collection of hats and her collection of herbs and her pottery, her home is a treasure chest of gems. And the queen of recycling couldnt be happier.

Latest from the Hertfordshire Life