They say that stuff doesn’t make you happy, but when you’re leaving an architecturally designed home you’ve lived in for more than a decade for an uncharted new world, the “stuff ” feels epic. Leaving a marriage takes strength, courage and infinite planning. As I pulled up the anchor and zipped towards singledom in a very fast speedboat, I had little idea how quickly it would run out of fuel. In July 2021 I moved out of our beautiful house, complete with glass-box extension and a kitchen with more skylights than the Shard. A period of renting followed, but I soon began to tire of living in other people’s properties. I craved a real home I could put my own stamp on. I craved a home of my own.
So, in August 2022, I bought a house in northwest London. Built in 1927, it had seen better days. Two weeks later, I bought another one, this time a townhouse with a crumbling roof in Ciutadella, Menorca. It sounds hasty, I know, but Menorca was long in the planning. And that’s one of the positive things about being single in midlife – there’s no one to tell you what to do. A good thing, I think.
So now I had two wrecks to deal with, along with two children to co-parent. Divorce is a destabilising, exhausting business. I was still living in a rental, so every evening I’d head to the empty house I now owned and lie on the floor. Staring up at the ceiling one sunny evening, I had a flash of inspiration. Visions of my old family home remained in my mind like a phantom. It is where my children were born and my ex-husband still lives, and its comforting beigey-grey interiors symbolised an old life that I missed. I realised I didn’t just need a fresh start, I needed an entirely new colour scheme, something utterly radical.