My Home: Tracey Cox

The best-selling sex expert has transformed her neutral, 'very English' Richmond home into a retro showpiece. Charlotte Cripps meets her
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The Independent Online

Tracey Cox, sex and relationship expert on C4's 'The Sex Inspectors' lives in a spacious ground floor flat with a garden in leafy Richmond

he flat definitely matches my personality and what I do - I am a sex and relationships expert - but I don't agree that everything in this flat, even the glass vase from the Conran shop, has a sexual connotation - as some people suggest.

When I moved in here two years ago and gutted the place, I lived in the bedroom (now the office) on one of those blow-up beds. It was a pit. The building work went out of control and I ended up spending about £70,000 doing it up, way more than I had expected. The builder told me this was because I kept changing my mind, and what could have been simple, turned out to be far more complicated.

First, the hall wall was knocked down to create an open-plan living room. These steel posts, covered in ostrich leather, now hold the ceiling up. All the posh carpets were ripped up and we put down 180-year-old wooden floorboards from a hospital. I felt a bit guilty because the flat looked fine when I bought it - very English in neutral colours - but once I started I couldn't stop. Now it's very retro with red painted doors.

I decided to make the larger room my office, rather than my bedroom, because I needed the space for all the books I have written about sex. They are falling out of all my cupboards and crammed along the office shelves. I try to keep all the editions. My first book Hot Sex is sold in about 140 countries and was translated into many languages, even Russian. I keep other books, for research, in the living room. The left bookshelf is body language and flirting and the right bookshelf is sex. I think having all these books can freak people out when they come round, but I need them for my job, so I don't think it is strange at all.

I bought this flat because it had a lovely feel to it. I loved the garden that surrounds me. It belongs to the whole house, shared between the three flats. The woman upstairs does all the gardening. I can also walk to Richmond Park, and there are plenty of restaurants - but the only thing I don't like about Richmond is the noise of planes that often wakes me up at 6am. In Australia, where I grew-up, there is a law that diverts planes away from posh suburbs, which is obviously not the case in Richmond. The other problem is the low ceilings, but I think the architect was clever because he partially dropped them, which actually gives the illusion that they're higher than they really are.

Everyone likes the living room best because it's so groovy. The glass table is by Philippe Starck and the chairs are Perspex. The chrome lights are all art deco. I especially love the long curved light with its marble base that hangs over the table. The pictures are not originals. I bought the big framed Roy Lichtenstein poster - I Don't Care! I'd Rather Sink Than Call Brad For Help! - in Brighton. The rugs - the blue and white rug is by Marni - are custom made from The Rug Company. The Sony plasma TV hangs above the fireplace, which is useless - like trying to get warm in front of a lit matchstick.

The hanging radiators are Italian and unobtrusive. The leather seats I had made along the window were a mistake, because they are too narrow to sit comfortably on. The clock on the ceiling is from a light projector behind the cream leather sofa. And I love the Helmut Newton poster of naked women. My favourite piece of furniture is the B&B Italia raspberry-red chair in the office designed by Gaetano Pesce, with its red ball to put your feet up on. It is modelled on mother and baby, and when you sit on it, it's meant to envelop you as if you are in the womb. There is also a metal bubble picture on the wall that I got in Portobello Road. It has odd reflections when you stand in front of it and there is also an old ship's fridge along the back of the office.

The bedroom is cosy. I thought the leather platform up to the bed was quite cute, but it's a pain to make the bed because it's all boxed in. The original Sputnik light throws interesting patterns against the wall. The two pictures are copies of art deco artist Tamara de Lempicka. One is of a naked woman with chained arms. The other is of a naked couple in an embrace.

I didn't do much to the bathroom. There is a separate toilet with two black-and-white photographs on the wall - one is of my hip, the other is of my shoulder, although you wouldn't recognise them. They could be anything and were taken when I went out with a photographer. The kitchen is nothing special, and there is nothing in the fridge other than vodka and champagne. I am out of the habit of having dinner parties.

I feel like I'm growing out of this flat already and I think it will be hard to sell it now - because it has my personality stamped on it so strongly. I like doing up houses, but the minute it's finished I always want to move. Perhaps I'll buy a pad in New York next.

'The Sex Inspectors Masterclass' by Tracey Cox and Michael Alvear is published by Penguin

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