Sandi Thom: Life beside the seaside
After losing out on a country cottage, Sandi Thom decided to go for a shore thing with a flat in Brighton, complete with balconies and a sea view
Wednesday 03 September 2008
In March, my boyfriend Jake and I were trying to buy this beautiful, quaint cottage in a Cheshire village. Unfortunately, there was a landfill site next door and the mortgage company wouldn't give us the mortgage unless we found out whether or not it was toxic. The council wouldn't give us the name of who owned the land, so we couldn't have it tested and, in the end, the sale fell through.
After it all went Pete Tong, we had a total change of heart and decided to buy in Brighton. We looked at six flats in one day, and found this place, just five minutes from the seafront. The flat is one of eight in a beautifully refurbished town house which was built in the 1800s and is Grade II listed.
It has a Hove postcode but it feels more in Brighton than Hove. From where we live, we can walk into the city centre in 15 minutes. We have two little balconies and if you go out on to one of them you can look down the hill to the sea. There is a communal garden, but we are quite happy sitting out on our balcony watching the sunset over the roofs.
When we moved in July, the flat was bare – there were no kitchen appliances and we slept on a mattress on the floor. In a month we've put in a new kitchen, tiled the kitchen floor and painted all the rooms. The flat is beautiful now and we are really proud it. It's been a mad rush, though – what with all the other stuff going on our lives. This week has been crazy: I'm doing promotions for my new single and I've been turning up for interviews covered in paint! We've two bedrooms and a really spacious hall. The kitchen isn't enormous but we've taken a wall down and made it a bit bigger. We got our kitchen at a trade place – a couple of friends are builders and they have an account there. We were really lucky, because we were able to get the kitchen through our friends and then they fitted it for us.
The units are charcoal grey with a thick wooden work surface and the floor is grey slate. We've used the space properly and integrated the appliances into cupboards. There was a massive hole where there used to be a dumb waiter, so I hunted all over for a fridge-freezer to fit it, eventually finding one by Liebherr.
My boyfriend's dad is a furniture dealer, so we've got our furniture from him. A lot of it is Indian or Moroccan-looking. We've a big teak chest for a coffee table. Our sofa, which Jake's dad designed, is covered in brown distressed leather and filled with duck feathers. It's huge – you can fit six people on it. I make my own curtains now – I seem to have remembered how to do it from sewing class in primary 4.
In the living room the windows are huge and 10 feet high. I got these massive patchwork quilt-type squares and sewed them all together. The curtains are magical looking – they look like Harry Potter's cloak!
In the bedroom we've a big leather bed – again, from Jake's dad. The ceilings are high and a dado rail runs around the top of the walls. We've painted the walls above the dado a dark mulberry colour and the rest off-white. It really shows off the coving on the ceiling.
We have massive built-in wardrobes which go straight up to the ceiling, so we've loads of storage and our bedroom looks quite minimal. There's an antique place round the corner which sells baroque furniture. I bought a dinky children's chair that's bright pink. I've spotted a sky-blue and gold chest of drawers which I'm thinking of buying, too. I'm going to make curtains for the bedroom – at the minute we've a bamboo blind up. There's a mulberry and silver kind of vibe in there and I'm going to make the curtains from silver silk.
All the floors, apart from the bathroom and the kitchen, are hessian, which works well and is easy to keep clean. We haven't done the bathroom yet. I want it to have lots of mosaic tiling. I've seen some iridescent mosaic tiles which look like fish scales. They cost a fortune.
So far we've spent about £20,000 on the flat. You end up doing so much more than you thought you would. We weren't going to do the kitchen, but we've gone ahead and it cost £10,000. But, the way we see it, it will add value to the house.
Jake and I love Brighton. It's chilled out and because it's near the beach, it's got that sun and sea vibe. I grew up on the coast, so it feels familiar. A lot of people in the area are in the media or in showbiz. Fat Boy Slim lives here, McCartney's got a flat here and Marti Pellow lives down the road. I believe Cate Blanchett has a flat here, too.
We have still got our rented flat in Tooting. It's now a work place rather than a studio/home which can be claustrophobic. If we had moved to Cheshire we would have had to let the place in Tooting go. We were sad at the thought, because so much has gone on there and it's where we recorded the first album. Even though it is just a pokey flat, it has a lot of sentimental value. But luckily, it lives on!
Singer/songwriter Sandi Thom, 27, grew up in the fishing town of Banff in Scotland. She shot to fame with her debut single, "I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker", via webcasts from her south London bedsit in 2006. Initially, her 21 Nights From Tooting shows attracted a few hundred people, but word of mouth spread and viewings peaked at 92,000. Her new single, "Saturday Night", from her album The Pink & The Lily is out now. She lives in Brighton with her boyfriend Jake Field.
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