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Home truths

Buying a house is an emotive act, fuelled by all kinds of desire - protecting a family, starting a new life, following a dream. Three Muddy readers open the door to their homes to share their personal stories.



Is there anything more fun than looking around other people’s houses? Er, NO! Every home tells a tale of histories, personal tastes and eccentricities, and we’ve been given the keys to three stunning houses owned by Muddy readers across Hants & IoW. Read on for home and life inspiration, and while you’re at it, go win yourself £500 off your mortgage in our exclusive Reader Treat, whoever you bank with!


“The first thing I was drawn to was just how pretty it is – it’s a cottage straight from a fairy tale!” says Vics Roper Curzon

Vics Roper Curzon, 35, East End, Hampshire

Eat me Drink me cottage

We found this thatched cottage ten years ago as a retreat from London when I was pregnant with our second child. The picturesque location in the New Forest has a deep connection with my husband’s family, but it’s also close enough to London to make it easy for us to pop down for the weekend and be able to get back to the city for work on Monday.
The cottage itself fits in well with our lifestyle and the first thing I was drawn to was just how pretty it is – it’s a cottage straight from a fairy tale!  My husband is a musician and I am a co-founder of a vintage children’s clothing brand called Elfie. We often use the cottage and grounds as a backdrop for our shoots for the clothing. The fairytale feel of the cottage matches with the aesthetics of the clothes, and being in the New Forest there’s often a donkey or pony trotting around in the background to make it even more whimsical!
Victoria Roper-Curzon
As well as being right by the sea, it hadn’t been touched or changed for many years, meaning it still had lots of its original features. We were able to put our stamp on it and, to be honest, we’ve not had to do much other than a few licks of paint. Our place in Acton, by contrast, was a total mess – my mum thought we couldn’t do anything with it! Even finding our London home in the first place was a lot trickier. We really wanted a house but we could only find flats within our budget but eventually, we found our London home.
Everything we’ve done to our Hampshire escape has been about keeping its old-fashioned appeal, but also adding in lots of colour to make it feel like a family home. If we had tried to turn it into something modern and minimalist, not only would it have lost its character, but as a family with six kids, it would get destroyed in an instant!
Eat Me Drink Me Cottage 5
I like to think of the aesthetic as a bit Mary Poppins/Nanny McPhee-inspired and it feels a bit as if I’ve recreated the home from my childhood. The real beauty of this style is you can add little things as you go and it just ‘works’.
The whole mix-and-match thing also means that we can turn it into a family affair, heading off to trawl through local bric-a-brac shops and hunting out treasures. The kids find things, I find things and each one comes with its own set of memories.
Eat Me Drink Me Cottage 1
One room I am thrilled with is the kitchen – it’s so bright and happy. It was a bit of a gamble to paint it such a bright colour, but with the lighting, it just works so well and I will never ever change it. People are always commenting on how fun and cheery it is.

Eat Me Drink Me Cottage 7

We want the kids to be outside as much as possible, so whenever we are here we’ll go for a walk to the beach every day. One of my favourite things to do is just cosy up indoors, baking cakes with the kids, watching films or playing a family game of Monopoly. It’s a proper little bolthole and, after the hustle and bustle of a week in London, it makes such a nice change. We can just disconnect from the world outside and just enjoy being together as a family.



Favourite restaurant: We love popping over to Yarmouth (via the nearby Lymington ferry) and getting fish and chips from Salty’s Restaurant. It’s brilliant that it’s so easy to head over to the Island for the day.

Best pub: The East End Arms is only 5 minutes from the cottage and it’s very family-friendly. The kids can run about the garden and play, while we sit down and enjoy a drink and some grown up time. There are board games like Scrabble and we can spend hours there as a family.

Go-to shop: I love having a look through Jubbly’s in Lymington. This is the place to find special bits of furniture or quirky lampshades to go in the house. There are always new things to look at and shopping there is always a brilliant experience.




“I knew instantly that this is where we were going to live.” says Gemma Braithwaite

Gemma Braithwaite, Southsea

Victorian Seaside Home Outside
I’ve always loved this house. When I was a little girl my nan and I would get the bus down to Southsea for an ice-cream and sit in the Rock Gardens looking over at it. We both agreed that it was our favourite house in the world.
Later on, when my husband Henry and I were looking to move from our old place nearby, we originally looked at properties outside of town to see what we could get in our price range. But, one day as we came back into Southsea, the annual kite festival was in full swing and we realised it would be mad for us to move away. All our family is here, our kids’ school is here, Henry’s business is based here and it’s our home.
As we drove along the seafront we both pointed at the house and said how much we’d love to live there. A few days later, the estate agent called us and said that it was coming on the market –  I could have fallen over! I knew instantly that this is where we were going to live.
Gemma Braithwaite

Gemma at home

Victorian Seaside Home Kitchen
When we looked around it was a little bit of a mess and it had been running as a nursery school for a long time. Henry was supportive but did turn to me and say ‘It’s certainly a project.’ But I knew that this was the house for us. Well, he was right and it’s certainly been a lot of work and money! With 27 rooms, we’ve redone the whole thing from the ground up and it’s ended up costing more than we initially thought – but it’s been well worth it. One huge change was removing one of the load-bearing walls within the property, which changed the building’s entire structure. It was a big decision to make, and when you’re talking about a house – one of the most expensive things you’ll ever buy – it can be a bit of a stressful gamble if things don’t go to plan.
Garden Victorian House
We know exactly what’s behind every wall, where the pipes are, any surprises that were lurking have been dealt with and I had free rein to design and decorate the whole thing – managing the project is pretty much a full-time job! My background is actually in graphics and I’m really into my wallpaper design, so although I’ve gone for a really warm and homely throughout our living areas, you can tell I’ve let my creativity go wild in the bathrooms!
Bathroom House Of Hackney Wallpaper
As well as a gorgeous building, its location sets our home apart. Just this morning I took the dog out for a walk along the beach, my daughter riding alongside us on her scooter. We strolled along the shoreline, past Southsea Castle and towards South Parade Pier – it is such an amazing place. I know my nan would be thrilled if she could see I now live in ‘our favourite house’.
Favourite Cafe: I love Southsea Coffee. Tara and her husband who run it are so lovely, and she is so innovative when it comes to vegan food – and I’m not even vegan!
Best pub: There’s nothing quite like coming back from a day on the water and heading to The Bridge Tavern for a shandy. When you’ve got all the boats going by and the sun shining, there isn’t a better spot.

Go-To Shop: It has to be Design House – the team here helped me with my vision for doing up our place. I’d go in with all these vague ideas and vibes of what I wanted to do and they would just ‘get’ it and be able to show me everything I’d been looking for.


Emma Vaughton, 49, Keyhaven, West Hampshire

“One of the biggest things for me is I no longer get post-holiday blues.” says Emma Vaughton


When we bought our house just under six years ago, I had been located up near Winchester. Although my place was convenient for getting into London, we didn’t need to be near London. So, because of my job in the yacht industry and our shared love of sea sports, we decided that we should move closer to the coast and find a Swallows & Amazons location to raise our daughter Lottie, who was a toddler at the time.

Keyhaven Interior

We had originally looked in nearby Lymington, but the prices there were a bit crazy and so instead we began to look in neighbouring Milford. The village had a bit of a reputation for being a bit of a ‘retirement’ spot but in the years we have lived near there, it’s become very up and coming with new restaurants and fab interior shops opening up. Eventually, we spotted the ideal place in Keyhaven which is a mile or so out of the village.

When we originally saw this place we thought ‘There is no way we could afford this house!” with its walled garden and historic background, it ticked all our boxes – particularly as I’ve always dreamed of having my own veg patch. However, the lady who was selling it was keen for it to become a family home rather than a holiday cottage and when we put in our offer, to our surprise, it was accepted.

The building itself has been a massive project but its location is unbeatable. It’s right by the sea meaning we can even launch our boats right out of the house. On the weekend I’ll park my car and not need to touch it again till Monday. We spend our weekends cycling along the nearby seawall or taking a walk over to Hurst Castle.

Emma in Keyhaven Home

The house had many tweaks and changes since it was built in the late 1700s, but when we moved in we decided to wait before we made any changes ourselves and I’m really glad we did. We’ve been able to think about the layout and design, allowing us to modernise it but retain a lot of its wonderful character. I now have my own office and the walk-in larder of my dreams but it’s still got a lot of its quirks. We’re always finding little nooks and long lost fireplaces hidden behind boards. All it needed was a family to help bring it back to life.

It was initially a bit of a culture shock moving out of a city like Winchester, but it didn’t take us very long to acclimatise to the peace and quiet. Lottie gets to ride her bike and is learning to sail, I’ve also realised I don’t need to pop to the shops every five minutes. After school on a sunny day, Lottie and I will head down to the beach and go crabbing before we have dinner.

Keyhaven Sup

One of the biggest things for me is I no longer get post-holiday blues. I can go away for a couple of weeks, get home and I’ll look out across the sea thinking ‘Hmmm, what shall I paint next?!”


Favourite local eatery? The Salt Water Cafe, they do a brilliant smashed avo and poached eggs. It’s such a great little brunch and lunch spot, and you don’t feel guilty as they do some really healthy-ish things.

Favourite pub? I really like The Cave Wine Bar in Milford. It’s got a nice buzz to it and reminds me of something you’d find in Winchester rather than out in the Hampshire countryside.

Favourite Go-To shop? Village Veg is brilliant. As well as not needing to trek out to the supermarket to get fantastic fruit and veg, they also sell my favourite Wild Island spiced fig balsamic vinegar dressing from the Island.


Habito have crunched the numbers…

  • Average house price £380,712 (London £474,601)
  • Increase over last 5 years +21% (London +17%)
  • Cost of a cappuccino £2.68 (London £2.81)

Source: Habito


We’ve partnered with brilliant, modern, no-fuss mortgage brokers Habito to give a Muddy Hants & IoW reader £500 off his or her existing mortgage – no matter which bank or building site the mortgage is with! ENTER HERE seconds, and if you’re thinking of re-mortgaging or buying afresh, say hello to Habito here

Find more ideas here


1 comment on “Home truths”

  • Dilys Fry December 5, 2019

    Would love to win this to help us with the dream of paying off our mortgage one day!


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