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June 2014 / People / by Cassia Geller

My London: Bec Astley Clarke

The London jeweller thinks that Bayswater’s rough edges make it so much more appealing than some of its slicker neighbours

How long have you lived in Bayswater?

I bought my apartment ten years ago, before I started a family and before I started Astley Clarke. I grew up in a house but I’d always hankered after apartment living, and I fell in love with this one as soon as I saw the double-height ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. I started the business from my sitting room – at one point we had our own IT network and seven people working at the dining room table.

What made you choose here?

I grew up in Islington, but I used to hang out with friends in Notting Hill and South Ken – I always loved the white stucco-fronted buildings around Kensington Gardens, and the wide streets and communal gardens.

What do you like most about the area?

I love the fact that Bayswater retains a level of authenticity. While Notting Hill is now a slick version of Chelsea, Bayswater is still a little rough around the edges. I love the grandeur of the buildings, its central location and the fact that it still has a mix of hostels and five-star hotels; Michelin-starred restaurants and Chinese takeaways; Bond Street brands and launderettes. London is about the mix of people and Bayswater still represents that (for how long, though, I don’t know).

What are your favourite local cafés and restaurants?

I’m obsessed with the breakfast (and dinner) at Granger & Co. I’m either there, with work people, or at Gold Mine Chinese restaurant with my family, eating duck and rice. And
for drinks I like the Electric.

Where do you shop locally? 

For fresh produce you can’t beat the local farmers’ market. Zadig & Voltaire is good for fabulous clothes, and for beauty essentials I go to Space NK. For everything else, the local Middle Eastern shops seem to be a great source of anything and everything!

Describe your perfect day in the area

First, a morning walk with the kids and my dog in Hyde Park, followed by a session of Bootcamp Pilates. After, as a reward, I’d get my nails done at Boutique Spa on Queensway, then round off the day with dinner and drinks with friends at Granger & Co.

What did you look for in a property? 

I wanted high ceilings, a balcony and one really fantastic reception room, but something in bad condition so I could do the work myself. When I moved here it was just me, but now there are five of us – my husband, two kids and dog. We love it so much.

What work have you done on it? 

The apartment had been rented to an old man for 20 years, so it needed complete modernisation. I wanted to restore the beautiful elements that had been overlooked, so I ripped out the fake ceilings, made the kitchen and the living room open plan, sanded the floors and reinstated the shutters.

If you hadn’t chosen here, where else might you have looked?

If I wasn’t in W2, I would be an NW1 girl – somewhere round Regent’s Park.

DNA-201300608-copyDescribe your interiors style 

Faded grandeur. I’m all about the canvas being simplistic – high ceilings, white walls and plain floorboards – but then messing it up with eclectic possessions. I like modern appliances but almost never modern furniture – all of our furniture is second hand or antique.

Finally, what’s new for you?

Astley Clarke launches in the USA this year so I’ll be spending quite a bit of time out there, which is super exciting.