Behind the dark grey front door of this Georgian mid-terrace in the very centre of Winchester, you’ll find Zalene, her husband Damian, their two daughters Evie and Beth, and their very old, very lovely chocolate Labrador Harley. They bought the property three years ago as an investment and planned to renovate it and let it out as a holiday home for others to enjoy. After falling more and more for the building as they decorated, they now typically spend weekends there – a bolthole from the family’s main home in Chilworth.
Once upon a time, Zalene and her family lived far further north than both Chilworth and Winchester, first falling for Neptune through the pages of a magazine – “It was a washstand. That was the first Neptune thing I ever clapped eyes on and I loved it. I’d never seen one like it before,” she told us. When the family relocated to Chilworth, it was here that she really began her love affair with Neptune – “I remember walking into Neptune Winchester thinking, can I bring my suitcase next time and just clear the place out!”, she recalled, laughing. One day, they hoped they might be able to live in the heart of Winchester, but at the time, it wasn’t the right setting for their young family. Six years on however, when the opportunity to purchase a second property arose, the family leapt and immediately began renovation plans for their weekend retreat cum holiday home.
“We all knew this was going to become our second Neptune home, because I’m not going to lie, there’s a heck of a lot of Neptune in our house. It’s not just the kitchen either (Zalene has a Suffolk kitchen in Chilworth). There’s Neptune in the bathroom, the bedrooms and the living room. Our sofas are Neptune, our breakfast table is Neptune, our lamps – it’s everywhere really. People keep saying ‘how do you find pieces like these?’ and I’m there thinking, do I tell them or don’t I? I sort of want Neptune all to myself!” Zalene continued.
When it came to decorating their Winchester property, Zalene knew she wanted a second Neptune kitchen but felt like this time, Chichester might be more fitting than the Suffolk kitchen she already had and loved. Because of the age of the property, her feeling was that the Chichester kitchen was more sympathetic and yet still had room for the odd contemporary touch. But her husband had other ideas. “Damian was keen for me to consider, let’s say a cheaper alternative, but I wanted Neptune and nothing else. My proposal to him was that a Neptune kitchen will last a lifetime. I’ll never fall out of love with it, I’ll never want to replace it, I’ll just change the paint colour at some point many years down the line and it’ll be like a brand new kitchen again. A Neptune kitchen lives on and on I told him,” Zalene told us. Needless to say, plans for her new Chichester kitchen commenced shortly after.
When designing a new kitchen, everybody’s wishlist of items is different, but having already experienced life with a Neptune kitchen, Zalene was clued up on exactly what touches she wanted her city kitchen to have. “That chopping board and tray block was a must. I know some people see it more as a filler but I use it all the time and I love how it looks. Everyone wants a pantry don’t they, but I had to be realistic with what we could fit. The Neptune team made it work though and gave me a mini larder section that I am in love with.” Zalene also longed for a kitchen island which proved difficult in her small kitchen, but the Winchester design team came up with a solution. “They made me a made-to-measure Charlecote island and I was just over the moon. I knew the kitchen was too small for an island but they found a way to make it work for me without sacrificing how the kitchen looked or felt – quite the opposite. It was made to be the exact width of the window at the back of the kitchen so that we can turn it and tuck it out of the way, using it as an extra prep surface when we have a big gathering and extend our Carter table fully down the middle of the kitchen. It’s all very clever and thoughtful I have to say. Another reason why I wanted Neptune – you don’t get this sort of detail from anyone else.”
Nobody might live in the family’s Winchester home on a full-time basis just yet, but it gives Zalene somewhere to escape to during the week when her husband is away on business and her daughters are staying with their partners. It’s their home from home when all five of them fancy a change of scenery at the weekend, and it’s a little slice of heaven for her and Damian to retire to one day. “I feel very lucky because I am very lucky. Two Neptune kitchens in my life is like a dream come true,” Zalene concluded.
Life in her new kitchen
What’s your favourite thing to do in your new kitchen?
“It might be a tiny space but I’ve got a little armchair by the stove that I love to sit down in with a glass of wine, with the fire on, and gaze at our lovely home. We don’t have wifi or a television here and have no intention of changing that. We just sit in the kitchen and hide away from the world!”
What’s your favourite part of the new kitchen and why?
“That whole side of the kitchen with my sink and the cabinets over the top. It’s my favourite part to look at and to use.”
What could you now not live without?
“My island. I’d have been so disappointed had we not got one to work, and it might be a tight fit but I wouldn’t be without it. It’s our little hub.”
“The dressing of the house really. Sadly for my husband, the home renovation work never stops does it? There’s also the whole basement to be done so there’s definitely more Neptune to come! This certainly is not the end…”