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Don’t let guests in the house! Kerrie Griffin reveals her unabashed confession

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As usual, I’ve laid my six-seater oak dining table with great care. The linen napkins are carefully pressed, I’ve used my best porcelain, and the glasses are sparkling crystal. The finishing touch is a vase filled with roses and lilies. 

The beds in my four spare rooms are made up with freshly laundered Egyptian cotton sheets and there’s not a wrinkle in sight. The sofa cushions are plumped, coffee table books arranged ‘just so’. Even the marble countertops in my kitchen are gleaming. 

All I’m missing are house guests. But you won’t find any — because while it may look like I love cooking and entertaining, I haven’t actually had anyone to dinner or to stay at my 17thcentury farmhouse for years. 

In fact, so keen am I to keep my house in pristine condition that even I barely use many of the beautiful things it contains. 

Kerrie Griffin, 55, (pictured) is single and her two adult children have moved out of home. UK-based interior designer explains why she won't allow guests in her house

Kerrie Griffin, 55, (pictured) is single and her two adult children have moved out of home. UK-based interior designer explains why she won’t allow guests in her house

My range-style cooker is clean because it’s virtually never turned on — I just make salads for myself — and the beds, except my own, are so pristine because they are unslept in. 

I love my kitchen island, but I wouldn’t dream of putting dishes or crockery down on it. While I haven’t read a single book on my shelf, as I don’t want to break the spines. 

At 55, I’m single and my two children are now in their 20s and have left home. Friends and family do occasionally come round, but I prefer them to stay outside on the terrace if the weather is warm enough. 

Friends joke that my lovely Shropshire farmhouse is like a show home — I’ve been known to call it a ‘faux home’. Because while every corner looks inviting and welcoming, the opposite is true. 

Only recently one close friend pointed out that she’s never sat on my sofa. Thankfully most of them simply roll their eyes, rather than taking offence. 

If we have to sit inside we’ll use what I call the ‘garden room’, which has easy-to-clean oak flooring and more casual sofas. Even outside, I tidy around people, scooping up used coffee mugs or wine glasses the moment someone puts one down. 

Kerrie rarely entertains indoors. Her best friend has stayed overnight just three times, but she is now banned because she insists her pet Chihuahua sleeps with her

Kerrie rarely entertains indoors. Her best friend has stayed overnight just three times, but she is now banned because she insists her pet Chihuahua sleeps with her

And if, God forbid, someone dares put their handbag on my kitchen island — why do people do that, it’s messy and unhygienic! — I immediately place it on a bar stool. 

Many other women I know feel similarly houseproud. I’m not a fan of cleaning influencer Mrs Hinch myself, but the fact that she has won 4.5million followers for her Instagram-perfect home and clever cleaning tips proves it’s increasingly seen as normal and acceptable, rather than embarrassing. 

In the past decade, my best friend has stayed overnight just three times, but she is now banned because she insists her pet Chihuahua sleeps with her. Her dog is barred completely as it always gravitates to my best sofas, which are off limits for most humans, let alone animals. 

I’m the only person allowed to relax in my living room and I use just one of the sofas, so that the other remains immaculate.

Surrounded by mess, Kerrie's thoughts were cluttered, but her newly calm and orderly home gave her the feeling she was in control

Surrounded by mess, Kerrie’s thoughts were cluttered, but her newly calm and orderly home gave her the feeling she was in control

When my beloved brother recently moved back to the UK after 20 years living in Spain, and asked if he and his dog could come to stay, my answer was that they were very welcome — as long as they slept in the barn in my garden, which has no heating or running water, because I don’t allow dogs in my house! 

You might assume that my immaculate home is down to my career as an interior designer. And yes, it’s in my nature to want to make a room look perfect. But that’s only part of the story. 

My now ex-husband and I bought this five-bedroom, threebathroom house together in 2006 when our children were small. I was drawn to the character and space it offered. 

While I did my best to keep our home in order amid the chaos of family life, it was never good enough for my husband. Among the 49 reasons he cited for divorcing me was not keeping the kitchen worktops tidy. I was a nervous wreck trying to keep everything perfect to please him and, when he left the family home two years after we’d moved in, I embarked on a rebellious period of untidiness. 

Kerrie's daughter is the only person who is allowed to visit and stay overnight without any rules

Kerrie’s daughter is the only person who is allowed to visit and stay overnight without any rules 

I was intoxicated by simple thrills such as leaving a used coffee cup on the side or dirty dinner dishes by the sink overnight. 

But after a year of freedom, I began to feel irritated by the mess. I’d always been a stay-at-home mum and I realised I was going to have to take control of my own life financially and emotionally. 

The next day, I started the process by tidying, all the time repeating ‘tidy house, tidy mind’. Sure enough, as order reigned in my home, success began to follow. 

I launched a company importing clothes from Italy, then my interior design business (theinteriorco.co.uk), and converted my garage into a holiday cottage. I believe all of this happened as a result of the basic discipline of being ultra tidy. 

Surrounded by mess, my thoughts were cluttered, but my newly calm and orderly home gave me the feeling I was in control. 

When my daughter, who’s studying to be a barrister, came home from university for a visit she said, ‘You’ve got too much time on your hands!’ But knowing where everything is and not worrying about mess actually saves me time. 

My daughter is my one concession and has no rules when she’s here. I tidy around her and, as soon as she’s gone, I blitz her room, removing dirty plates, stripping the bed and putting everything back to normal so you’d never know she’d been there. 

I’ve come to relish my Saturday cleaning routine. I dust, vacuum, clean the windows and wash the floor. I put fresh flowers in every room, and use my professional laundry press to iron bedding, before tending to the garden.

Finally, I sort the finishing touches, plumping cushions and smoothing duvet covers. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I haven’t been invited to friends’ houses in years and they’re open about the fact that they fear their homes won’t live up to my standards. 

I have one friend whose home I’ve only set foot in three times in the past 15 years. By her own admission, wherever you turn it looks like a bomb has hit it. When I asked her why she rarely asks me over, she said, ‘Well, we couldn’t even sit at my dining table because it’s piled high with all our mail from the past five years!’ 

It wouldn’t do for me, but I’d never judge. This particular friend and her husband are among the most contented people I know. And I don’t care about the lack of invitations because I’d rather be in my house than anywhere else. 

Still, I’ve decided that it’s time for a fresh challenge — so I’m selling this house and buying a fixerupper, a six-bedroom farmhouse with four acres of land and a lake. 

I’m the first to say that a woman living on her own buying such a big house sounds like madness. But I love it — and I’ve worked incredibly hard to afford it. 

Just don’t expect me to have a housewarming party indoors. I’ve already booked a marquee. 

  • Is your house more of a show home? Send your houseproud stories and pictures to femailreaders@dailymail.co.uk 

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Rishi Sunak’s swimming pool complex at his manor house is pictured as he tries to become the next PM

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Rishi Sunak‘s lavish private swimming pool complex at his North Yorkshire manor house has been pictured as he continues to battle Liz Truss to become the next Prime Minister.

The former Chancellor of the Exchequer, who like Ms Truss is facing questions over how they will deal with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and spiralling energy prices, has spent £400,000 on the new pool.

He is also building a gym and tennis courts at the £2million Georgian manor near Northallerton, with reports from earlier this year estimating he would have to pay £13,000-a-year to keep the new pool warm. 

However, this figure may have risen dramatically over the last few months as energy prices have continued to surge, putting millions of people in the UK at risk of not being able to pay their bills.

Yesterday Mr Sunak, who has been criticised for building the pool while his local swimming baths in Richmond are forced to close due to rising energy bills, pledged to spend billions more to help people with the cost-of-living crisis.

The former investment banker, who made a fortune before becoming a politician, said there was a ‘moral responsibility’ to offer extra help, while also taking a swipe at Ms Truss’s plans to cut taxes.

He pledged to give more help to pensioners and those on benefits, while also vowing to cut VAT on energy bills – which he said could raise total support for families to around £700 to £800 – while energy bills look set to reach an eyewatering £4,400 after Christmas.

A gym, tennis court and swimming pool complex at Rishi Sunak's North Yorkshire manor house has taken shape after months of construction

A gym, tennis court and swimming pool complex at Rishi Sunak’s North Yorkshire manor house has taken shape after months of construction

The Tory leadership hopeful is thought to have spent in the region of £400,000 on the extension to his Georgian Grad2-II listed property

The Tory leadership hopeful is thought to have spent in the region of £400,000 on the extension to his Georgian Grad2-II listed property

It comes as Mr Sunak, pictured here in a visit to St John's Wood Synagogue yesterday, continues his quest to become the next Prime Minister

It comes as Mr Sunak, pictured here in a visit to St John’s Wood Synagogue yesterday, continues his quest to become the next Prime Minister

The swimming pool at his Grade-II listed manor house, where he typically spends his weekends with his wife and two daughters, has been under construction for several months.

The 42-year-old applied to the local council to build an L-shaped pool house, which will include a hot tub, utility and changing area and plant room, last year.

These plans, which included a 12-metre by five-metre swimming pool, were later approved by the council.

No tax payer money is thought to have been used in building the complex, and there were no objections from people living nearby. 

Reports it would cost £13,000-a-year to heat did not go down well among members of his constituency, especially after the sharp rise in energy bills.

The 42-year-old applied to build an L-shaped pool house, which will include a hot tub, utility and changing area and plant room, last year

The 42-year-old applied to build an L-shaped pool house, which will include a hot tub, utility and changing area and plant room, last year

It will include a tennis court (which can be seen in the bottom half of this picture), as well as an indoor private swimming pool

It will include a tennis court (which can be seen in the bottom half of this picture), as well as an indoor private swimming pool

No tax payer money is thought to have been used in building the complex, and there were no objections from people living nearby before it was approved by the local council last year

No tax payer money is thought to have been used in building the complex, and there were no objections from people living nearby before it was approved by the local council last year

Retired steel worker Leslie Porter, 69, told the Mirror: ‘Some people are having to choose between heating and eating. Bills are all rising and he does this. It’s obscene.’

Receptionist Hayley Hadden added: ‘He is a millionaire many times over and it looks like he is rubbing our noses in it. He doesn’t have to worry about paying his bills.’

It is one of a number of properties owned by Mr Sunak and his wife Akshata Murthy, who is the daughter of one of the richest men in India.

While he was chancellor the family lived in a flat above No 10 Downing Street, but earlier this year they moved to their £6.6 million mews house in Kensington.

The L-shaped pool house, which is under construction after permission was given last year, is set to inlcude a hot tub, utility and changing area, and a plant room

The L-shaped pool house, which is under construction after permission was given last year, is set to inlcude a hot tub, utility and changing area, and a plant room

Reports it will cost £13,000-a-year to heat did not go down well among members of his constituency, especially after the sharp rise in energy bills

Reports it will cost £13,000-a-year to heat did not go down well among members of his constituency, especially after the sharp rise in energy bills

Work has  started on construction of the swimming pool, gym and tennis court at the Sunak's North Yorkshire manor earlier this year

Work has  started on construction of the swimming pool, gym and tennis court at the Sunak’s North Yorkshire manor earlier this year

They also own a £5.5 million home in Santa Monica in California, where Mr Sunak has been tipped to live if he decides to quit politics in the UK.

Mr Sunak, who worked as an investment banker for firms California, India and Britain, including Goldman Sachs, is known to use the Yorkshire property when Parliament is not in session and he doesn’t need to be in London.

As his battle to become the next Prime Minister with Ms Truss heats up, this week the pair exchanged a series of barbs over their approach to the cost-of-living crisis.

The ex-chancellor has been accused by his rival’s camp of ‘Gordon Brown-style politics’ with a ‘socialist tax and spend’ agenda.

In a swipe back at the Foreign Secretary tonight, Mr Sunak suggested Ms Truss’s tax-cutting proposals were not ‘the moral thing to do’.

Rishi Sunak pledged to give more help to pensioners and those on benefits, while also vowing to cut VAT on energy bills to help with the cost-of-living crisis

Rishi Sunak pledged to give more help to pensioners and those on benefits, while also vowing to cut VAT on energy bills to help with the cost-of-living crisis

He also insisted that ‘starry-eyed boosterism’ would not steer the country through the inflation crisis.

In another jibe at Ms Truss, Mr Sunak claimed he would ‘rather lose’ the contest to become PM than promise ‘false things I can’t deliver’.

Both he and Ms Truss have faced calls to pledge further support during the cost-of-living crisis after energy bills for typical households were this week forecast to soar to more than £4,200 next year.

‘I do feel a moral responsibility as prime minister to go further and get extra help to people over the autumn and the winter to help them cope with what is going to be a really difficult time,’ Mr Sunak said.

‘I think that is the right priority.’

Mr Sunak suggested his rival Liz Truss's tax-cutting proposals were not 'the moral thing to do' as he took a series of swipes at the Foreign Secretary

Mr Sunak suggested his rival Liz Truss’s tax-cutting proposals were not ‘the moral thing to do’ as he took a series of swipes at the Foreign Secretary

The Foreign Secretary has faced pressure to match Mr Sunak’s promise of more direct support for families, after she previously steered away from pledging extra ‘handouts’ to ease the cost-of-living crisis.

Mr Sunak’s camp have accused Ms Truss of a ‘major U-turn’ after she today insisted she was not ruling out further cash payments.

But the Foreign Secretary has maintained that tax cuts – and boosting the economy – are her ‘priority’.

Ms Truss’s promise to cancel the National Insurance rise, scrap a planned increase in corporation tax, and remove green levies on energy bills appears to be proving popular with Tory members.

Mr Sunak has warned that Ms Truss’s tax-cutting plans will worsen the inflation crisis and cause interest rates to rocket.

He insisted he was ‘prepared to lose this contest’ rather than ‘saying the easy things’ and not staying ‘true to my values’.

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Window shopping: Stained glass or acoustic? Solid wood or plastic?

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Your front door isn’t there to keep people out, it’s there to welcome them in.

Along with the windows — those peep-holes into your life — the style and colour tell friends and strangers alike who you are and what they can expect when they set foot inside your home.

‘Windows can make or break a space,’ says luxury interior designer Katharine Pooley. ‘They often don’t quite receive the attention they should, which is a shame as with the right ironmongery and a beautiful finish they instantly upgrade the overall aesthetic.’

Inviting: Stained glass windows add colour and personality to a home and tell friends and strangers alike what they can expect when they set foot inside

Inviting: Stained glass windows add colour and personality to a home and tell friends and strangers alike what they can expect when they set foot inside

And yet we spend twice as long selecting a kitchen worktop than we do choosing windows for our house.

So what options do you have to make them pretty as well as practical?

Plastic fantastic?

First off, don’t go for those horrid brilliant white, smooth plastic frames for windows. They often look ugly.

If you have to get uPVC because you’re on a tight budget, then at least get them in off-white with a woodgrain effect — some brands are pretty convincing nowadays.

KJM does a good line — for a double-glazed casement in woodgrain-effect measuring 1,200mm x 630mm, the price is about £275 supply-only.

Heavy metal

The sleek, hip-kid-on-the-block, aluminium-framed windows look up-to-the minute.

And because metal is stronger than wood or uPVC, the frame will be much slimmer, so there’s a larger area for glass.

We’re used to a cool grey colour, but you can have the frames made in any hue you like. So you can have them in forest green, midnight blue or flame red.

The same windows as above in aluminium would be £515.

Colours: You can have window frames made in any shade you like, though grey is popular

Colours: You can have window frames made in any shade you like, though grey is popular

Picture windows

Oh, the fun you can have with stained glass. Coloured designs are usually banished to little fan-lights at the top of doors in late Victorian houses.

But why not have coloured or picture panels in your front windows. You can have a nautical theme if you live by the sea; or an abstract whirl of shapes and colours.

A window with a bespoke design from Cheam Leaded Lights of about 1,200mm x 630mm will cost in the region of £2,500 to £3,000 supply-only.

Modernist style

Crittall windows or doors feature a sharp Art Deco design with slim black steel frames divided into squares. 

They have had a style renaissance over the past few years, somehow looking both up-to-date and classic at the same time.

While the Crittall company still manufactures the official items, you can get them in the same style from a host of other firms.

Crittall’s windows range from £500 to £850 per square metre, including installation.

Upgrade your glass

You can get all sorts of special glass these days. If you live by a busy road, acoustic glass will do better for you than standard double glazing.

Double glazing has two panes of glass with a void between them, whereas acoustic glass has two panes sandwiched together with a thin plastic layer in the middle to filter out more sound waves. 

Polarised glass keeps out the sun’s rays on hot days. And reflective glass turns windows into a one-way mirror so you can look out but passers-by can’t look in. 

Roseview’s Ultimate Rose windows are made from uPVC, but almost indistinguishable from wood.

A 1,200mm x 630mm acoustic glass window costs about £900 supply-only.

Choose wisely: The right windows can make or break a space, according to interiors experts

Choose wisely: The right windows can make or break a space, according to interiors experts

Solid wood

Wooden windows are becoming harder to find as vinyl and fibreglass take over, but they’re durable and can be a charming addition to a home.

Wooden Windows make bespoke timber windows and doors. It’s worth matching the two; after all, there’s nothing quite like the feel of a solid wood front door thudding into place.

It says that your castle is now secure against all onslaught. They do take some maintaining, though — you will have to repaint every four or five years, and there’s the chance of warping, which could make it more difficult to close or lock.

Old English Doors do a good line in hand-made Georgian-style, six-panelled solid oak doors from £4,320 supply-only.

Savings of the week! Rugs 

Temperatures may still be soaring. But the predicted higher fuel bills in the autumn means finding ways to make your home more cosy should start now.

A rug pulls all the elements in a room together. It also provides a layer of insulation, trapping cold air underneath.

Faded: La Redoute’s version in red and blue, pictured, is reduced by 25%, from £59 to £230 (laredoute.co.uk)

Faded: La Redoute’s version in red and blue, pictured, is reduced by 25%, from £59 to £230 (laredoute.co.uk)

Some heartwarming bargains of as much as 50 per cent off are available which, with care, should keep you snug for years. 

The abstract pattern Kista from West Elm in pale grey, blue and yellow would suit a stripped-down decor. It now costs from £112.95 to £519.95 (depending on size) down from £449 to £1,039 (westelm.com). 

The Pollo from The Rug Shop UK is in the same style. It costs from £71 to £224, reduced from £79 to £249 (therug shopuk.co.uk). At Loaf, the Tufty in cream and white is down 50 per cent from £345 to £175 (loaf.com).

The Habitat Byron in dark and pale grey, orange and teal would add zing to neutral interiors; it’s down by one-third to £119.99 (argos.co.uk).

Faded antique-style rugs continue to be fashionable. La Redoute’s version in red and blue, pictured, is reduced by 25 per cent; from £59 to £230 (laredoute.co.uk).

Anne Ashworth

 

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Liverpool ONE welcomes Tessuti (GB)

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Grosvenor has announced that designer retailer, Tessuti, has opened its new global flagship store at Liverpool ONE, demonstrating the brand’s ongoing vote of confidence in the destination. The new location on Paradise Street follows Tessuti’s consistently strong performance at Liverpool ONE and spans two floors measuring 22,000ft². Boasting Tessuti’s biggest store to date, this is four times the size of the previous Liverpool ONE site. The store interiors have been styled with a subtle nod to classic Italian architecture whilst incorporating state-of-the-art technical features, combining classic design with an industrial-chic colour palette and cutting-edge digital screens. Working with local Liverpudlian digital and production agency Liquid, the new Tessuti store has exclusive instore stills and videos showcasing exciting campaigns; the first of which is rumoured to feature Liverpool stars Stephen Graham, Abbey Clancy, Miles Kane and Chelcee Grimes.

 

Aligning with Liverpool ONE’s community ethos, Tessuti’s new global flagship will also support the vibrant community in the heart of Liverpool, championing local businesses through collaborations, pop-ups, and in-store events.

 

Alison Clegg, Managing Director, Asset Management, Grosvenor, commented: “Tessuti’s commitment to Liverpool ONE, through its relocation within the destination and decision to make the new store its global flagship, strengthens our position as one of Europe’s leading retail and leisure destinations. The impressive growth trajectory of Tessuti within Liverpool is a great indication of the potential for success and expansion of other brands that join Liverpool ONE.”

 

Chris Rowan, Director of Brand & Customer Connection at Tessuti, added: “The opening of our global flagship at Liverpool ONE is a huge moment for us. Liverpool is an urban hub for international fashion retailers, so upsizing and relocating within the city’s leading retail and leisure destination was a natural next step. We feel confident that it is the ideal home for our flagship location, and are excited to offer Liverpool ONE’s visitors our most stylish project yet.”

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