I am so jealous of Samantha Benson's house in Rickmansworth. The place is like a time machine back to the 1960s – but not a polished, idealised 2012 recreation of what it could have looked like, but a genuine early sixties family home, very well preserved and visibly loved and lived in. No wonder she hires it out as a location house for period films and TV shows.
Step inside, and meet Samantha, who lives here with her husband Jim, daughters Harriet, 9, Celia, 7, Margo the miniature dachshund (scroll down for her, she's very nice), and Sid and Johnny the guinea pigs... (And do check out the amazing coloured bathrooms: I LOVE them, no wonder Jonathan Adler has just launched a range of colourful basins... this is a look that is coming back, we'll be mourning throwing out those avocado suites, I'm telling you.)
Interesting features? "There is a bank of 15 switches incorporated into the headboard on our bed – they operate ceiling lights and lamps, TV sockets and plug sockets! Every electrician that has visited has taken photos of it to show their mates. Also the industrial size oil-fired boiler which occupies it's own room off the kitchen; the house is heated by warm air vents, there are no radiators. The house was designed so that all the children's bedrooms are exactly the same size – so no-one has to have the smallest room. A brilliant idea."
Favourite features? "Many people would choose the unusually-shaped lounge, but I love small things like its door handles, the wall lights, the way the hall window has a slight curve. I love the peaceful balcony off the master bedroom, and the fact you never need blinds or frosted glass in the bathrooms because it's so secluded. The views from the picture windows are incredible – as if every single window frame holds a work of art. The bathrooms are very cool and I love the coloured suites! The formica wall coverings look so neat and it's very easy to clean.
Where have you been shopping and finding inspiration?
- Midcentury Magazine is a great read, full of inspiration and very informative.
- Wallpaper Direct have the biggest range of wallpaper you could find. For late 1950s/early 1960s, choose geometric patterns or textured papers, like hessian, rather than the large floral patterns of the late 1960s.
- Berkshire Trade Flooring Supplies in Bracknell is where we got our lovely vinyl floor tiles. Their prices are great and the choice is huge – the tiles are also very easy to lay yourself. Speak to Matthew: on +44 (0) 1344 303439.
- Wowhaus is a website I'm addicted to: there are inspiring, authentic houses from all eras, but a lot from the 1950s-1970s. It's a real education in appreciating unusual domestic architecture.
Film types: want to hire this house? Find more details on the Film Locations website.
In a few weeks, I'll be posting up a fascinating interview I did with the owner of Film Locations, all about the ins and outs of hiring out your own home as a location for shoots, along with some of the most special properties on her books.