BUDGIES Do The Funniest Things paid for my bathroom,’ jokes comedian Zoe Lyons, 46, of her home makeover. ‘A few years ago I did a string of talking-head clip shows [such as Pets Make You Laugh Out Loud] about things like kittens falling off shelves — and I kept doing them to pay for my bathroom. So every time I have a shower, I think of kittens falling off shelves.’
Zoe, wife Sindy, and their terrier Groucho (below) moved into their two-bedroom flat in Hove in 2012. They first bought in the area in 2004, when Zoe began working as a comedian and was supplementing her income waiting tables.
She says: ‘In those days, it was easy to get a mortgage. We got a 100 per cent mortgage and put the fees on a credit card. We had no money, so bless Northern Rock for getting us on the property ladder. Sindy had a proper job. I didn’t, but they didn’t care. They were throwing mortgages at people.’
When the couple wanted to move into something bigger, they went in search of a two-bedroom garden flat in easy reach of the beach — and they ended up seeing more than 20 properties.
Zoe says: ‘There are so many bad conversions. The main bedroom would be nice but then the second bedroom would be tiny or a random room coming off the kitchen. When we walked into this place and saw the 30ft entrance hall I said, “we’ll have it” straight away. It gives a real feeling of space.’
‘Every time I have a shower, I’m thinking about kittens falling off shelves’
But when they moved in, some changes needed to be made. Zoe says: ‘The bathroom had a 3ft bath. It was very strange — the only one who used the bath was the dog. And there was a grim corner shower.’
They overhauled the bathroom, replacing the tiny tub with a large shower. The kitchen also needed some work. She explains: ‘There wasn’t even a proper cooker — it was like camping — and the previous owners had put bathroom tiles on the walls.’
Now the spruced-up kitchen has benefitted from Zoe’s stint on Celebrity MasterChef — coming soon to BBC One.
‘I bought a Magimix — it was tax deductible since I was doing MasterChef,’ laughs Zoe. ‘I bought zesters, measurers, an array of vinegars, different types of salt and seasoning…’
But her favourite new buy is a potato ricer. ‘It’s like a big garlic press. You boil the potatoes, put them in the ricer and it comes out like really thin spaghetti. That’s how you get lump-free mashed potato. Once you’ve had a potato ricer, there’s no going back.’
The garden was also overhauled, after Zoe’s first attempt to mow it. ‘It looked like it had male-pattern baldness,’ she says. ‘It was more of a moor than a lawn.’
‘The garden had more of a moor than a lawn, it looked like it had male pattern baldness’
So the grass was replaced with paving stones and decking — but there’s still plenty of greenery as Zoe decided to plant in containers instead.
‘It’s really nice in the summer. I tend to kill plants so I’ve gone for palms and desert plants, which can withstand my lack of green fingers.’
Decorative interior touches include work by Dutch artist Femke Hiemstra and photographs by Zoe’s photographer friend Mark Vessey. She tells us: ‘He collects things like travel books, Vogue magazines or albums and takes pictures of the spines all lined up together. It sounds odd, but they’re beautiful photographs.’
One eye-catching item is the bust of a dog (below) which sits on a mid-century bureau. Zoe says: ‘I saw that in the window of a local shop and had to have it. It looks bronze but it’s plastic. It was only £20 and I bloody love it.’
Zoe’s fondness for mid-century furniture has extended to an Ercol dining table and G Plan desk in her study. Such pieces can cost a lot of money, but Zoe says: ‘A lot of places whack the price up, asking £700 for a chair, but you can still find things if you shop around.’
Zoe says her dream home would be a mid-century bungalow. She tells us: ‘The sort of thing you might see in Palm Springs, with a flat roof and a car port. There aren’t any in Hove so I’d have to build one. I really want a car port, that’s the main thing.’
■ Zoe Lyons’ Entry Level Human is at the Gilded Balloon during the Edinburgh Festival from August 1-26 and then touring, zoelyons.co.uk