Me and my home: Hidden treasure

A City worker-turned-jeweller tells Cheryl Markosky about her flat in a quiet, leafy corner of west London
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Jewellery designer Kirsten Goss, 29, lives with her banker husband Steven in a flat in Brook Green, west London with their two-month-old daughter Farren. Her label Kirsten Goss was successfully launched this year at London Fashion Week.

Jewellery designer Kirsten Goss, 29, lives with her banker husband Steven in a flat in Brook Green, west London with their two-month-old daughter Farren. Her label Kirsten Goss was successfully launched this year at London Fashion Week.

Six-and-a-half years ago, we came over from South Africa. We both felt closely related to the UK, because with British and Irish grandparents, there is a heritage there. We loved the idea of working abroad and this seemed the logical place to use as a starting point. But we got hooked and haven't left.

After renting in Olympia for a while, we decided to buy our own place. We worked very hard for eight months to find the right place, first researching and looking at more than 150 properties on the internet and around 60 in the flesh. Steven and me are a bit like that - we don't make decisions without seeing everything.

After looking round a few other areas, we discovered Brook Green, an older and more beautiful sister of Olympia. It's very leafy and green and, with an Oxford feel to it, you feel you are in the middle of London, but not in a boring suburban bit like Putney. This is the only part of London where there are so many good access routes within a 10-minute walk. Hammersmith Tube is on the Piccadilly, District and Hammersmith & City lines, Shepherd's Bush is on the Central line and the A40 is close by.

After seeing around 50 flats there, we fell in love with this one in Sterndale Road. It is a one-bed flat, but we decided it was better to go with a roomy one-bed place than a more cramped two-bedroom one. (They just cut out another room, so you aren't getting any extra space.) The previous owner, an analyst from Bloomberg, used the flat as a bolthole when he was in London. The garden was never maximised, but the place was in good condition.

My style can be described as eclectic. I like to mix good modern art pieces with the traditional. The flat is fairly neutral - it isn't covered in ridiculous bright pink paint. Instead, I have gone for muted colours and we have added splashes of our style. I like something that is comfortable and relaxed. There is nothing worse than feeling you can't sit on a cushion because you might mess it up. Here, you dive into the huge three-seater couch - cosy is the word.

My favourite place is the living/dining room, because of its large proportions. Although we are in the basement, there are good ceiling heights and the room has a good shape, being almost square. It is light and bright, looks out on the garden and feels almost like a sunroom. I love nothing more than lying on the couch with a book or newspaper.

We re-did the bathroom when we arrived. Hating those teeny telephone-booth showers, we put in a larger one. Now we don't feel so hard done by. We also installed a thermostatically controlled shower so we didn't burn ourselves. Soon it will be law to have them, and in case we ever decided to rent the place out, it made sense to invest in the real thing.

The kitchen has been spruced up, too. Now it has slate tops, a German black square ceramic sink with beaten taps, and laminate flooring. Having a decent-sized kitchen was important, as we both like to cook. The kitchen, living area and garden had to be roomy, but the bedrooms were not such a big deal. You only sleep there at the end of the day and if you are both busy working, it doesn't really matter so much.

The paved garden is not overly big, but it is a decent size. We have kept it low-maintenance, so no one has to worry about mowing lawns. It is big enough for a table and chairs that seat six to eight people and we've had 30 round for drinks and easily fit everyone in. There are grey flagstones with shrub borders on two sides.

I love Columbia Road flower market, where I picked up some antique metal filigree pots. They make a feature along one wall, with fuchsias and pansies trailing out of them. The garden is kind of "structured rustic", with cracked white-washed walls so that it doesn't look too stylised.

The restaurants are fantastic here. We go to The Havelock, The Parrs Head and the tapas bar in Shepherd's Bush Road. We love Snow's, where we got engaged. There is a good little strip for shops along Shepherd's Bush Road, with Green a gorgeous florist; Ludlows of Harrogate sells old bathroom equipment; Oliver Bonas; an old bookshop and there is also a good Tesco for staples.

I really like St Paul's Girls School and the L'Ecole Française on the Green. There are lots of French people, families and up and coming young people in the area. The buildings are so pretty that I really enjoy just looking up at them when walking past. Our jogging route, which takes 35 minutes door to door to Holland Park and back, is great. I work at Westbourne Studios in Notting Hill and have a great 40-minute walk there along Holland Park, Ladbroke Grove and Portobello.

After working for an asset manager in the City for a couple of years to learn about business, I started my own, launching my label at London Fashion Week. Sarah Jessica Parker wore a bespoke spider web mesh body piece in the new Lux advertising campaign and presenter June Sarpong wore my jewellery in a Channel 4 Sex and the City retrospective. Guests at Prince William's African-themed 21st birthday party also wore my pieces.

I would love to stay here forever, but with a new baby we need more space. We will rent for a while and then decide whether to buy something else nearby, move to the country or go back to South Africa. I hope a professional couple like us or someone single who can be in the City in 45 minutes enjoys the flat like we have.

Kirsten's flat is available via Bective Leslie Marsh (020-7603 5181) at £285,000

Comments