Designers shrug off the costs of refurbishment Designers defend modest costs of refurbishment

MARTIN WHITFIELD
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The Independent Online
In terms of Gloucestershire mansions, the £387,000 refurbishment of Haymes Garth, Sir Sandy Wilson's official residence, is a bit second division.

Fit for a four-star RAF officer on £95,000 a year maybe, but not in the premier league of extravagance favoured by royalty, pop stars and millionaires.

Nicki Spice, chair of the International Designers and Decorators' Association, said the £60,000 spent on soft furnishings was small change, even for a five-bedroom house.

"It's nothing," she declared. "When a house has deteriorated it always costs more to put it back together than it does to build a new house. We are certainly not talking about the most expensive foreign fabrics."

Refurbishment of Haymes Garth began in 1992 and took about six months.

The tiled roof was replaced and new windows and doors fitted throughout. Staff accommodation, a new kitchen and bathrooms were added. Despite the expenditure, more than £127,000 above estimates, the house is now valued by the Ministry of Defence at close to £300,000.

Margaret Baker, the Cheltenham-based designer who worked on the soft furnishings, said: "£60,000 for the carpets, curtains and the decorating of the public room was all I had and all I spent. What people don't realise is the size and number of windows in the house.

``Sir Sandy and his wife were very concerned that the budget would spiral out of control. Obviously, because they were going to live there, they needed to give their opinions on colours and fabrics." Ms Barker admitted that she had flown to Germany to see Sir Sandy about the work and to show fabrics to Lady Wilson. ``I went to see what we could use from his house in Germany. I went on an RAF shuttle which was going anyway...It cost £43 each way."

Included in the £60,000 were bedspreads, loose covers, blinds and wallpaper. The price of the kitchen and bathrooms has not been revealed, but £25,000 for fitting out a top-class kitchen and £5,000 for a bathroom would not be unusual.

Anthony Evans, of Top Layer, a specialist fabric supplier,said curtain material in properties such as Haymes Garth would be up to £30 a metre. "It doesn't take long to get to £4,000 or £5,000 for the material alone if there any large windows."

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