1 There's No Place Like Home - The Battered Black Book

There’s No Place Like Home

‘A Englishman’s home is his castle’ as the saying goes (but despite James Brown not being known as a feminist, we’d obviously have to agree that a man’s world ‘is nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl’…!) But whatever the make-up of the household, one thing is clear; we love our homes. It comes as little surprise therefore that as we have spent so much time at home over the last year, that we have all slowly been turning our homes into castles.

As the nation has worked from home during the pandemic, and many of us will continue to do so as work patterns shift, we have not only had to make a functioning work space at home with a zoom backdrop worthy of our businesses, but we’ve also been getting round to those living space changes and upgrades that we have put off for so long…

Profits at home improvement and DIY stores have soared by more than 600% and estate agents have seen a mass exodus from London as remote working takes off and people re-evaluate priorities in lifestyle. Of course with the stamp duty break offered by the government, many people are also upsizing their abodes or taking the opportunity to buy their first home, but whatever the circumstances, we’re all talking about it!

Perhaps your principal has decided to embark on a larger renovation project whilst they spend some time abroad, or perhaps with Spring comes motivation to freshen up the interior design. Perhaps the ‘Quarantine 15’ has hit and the decision has been made to get fit with a home gym, or perhaps you’ve been asked to find a dream country home… The BBB Club is, as always, on hand to bring inspiration, great contacts and some peace of mind, whatever the challenge.


Sitting down at a table to work is the same wherever you are, right? Not so, and it affects our health and our productivity hugely. There are a few things we all realised quite quickly when we were all asked to ’Stay Home, Save Lives’ in 2020…

Fast Internet is everything

Whether you’re reporting in to the boss, trying to woo new clients or taking part in a group zoom meeting, the most frustrating (and damaging) thing that can happen is a dodgy internet connection. It affects our flow, steals our time and ultimately affects our professionalism (and it makes our jokes fall flat with missed punchlines and botched delivery!) There are a bunch of special offers from internet providers, all promising the best streaming and fastest downloads, but at some point, you need to call in a professional. Bespoke Telecoms are just the ticket – from Mayfair townhouses to country estates, they specialise in providing superfast broadband that works in every corner of the property, including gardens and outbuildings. Gone are the days of taking your laptop to the router! And if you want to stay in contact but without the laptop, they are experts at installing home telephone and communication systems that cover the house and grounds, meaning if you’re relaxing by the pool, you won’t miss that crucial call or even the doorbell with their video entry systems and comprehensive CCTV.

Peace is essential

Many of us have faced the challenges of home schooling, but even without children at home, we may have to deal with the interruptions of house mates, pets, the doorbell or neighbours. Focus is impossible when you can’t think straight! So make yourself a quiet space and keep it as meticulous as you can, after all a ‘tidy house is a tidy mind’…

BBB Partner and Interior Design expert Sarah Ward has some excellent advice about working from home. Over the last year we have all struggled but she says, “Don’t let the boundaries begin to blur and temptation allow you to set up your office in bed. Do assign an area designated for working.” It’s hard though when many of live in smaller spaces that we share with partners or flatmates. Sarah counters,”Be territorial if you must! Even if you have a small space and do not have the luxury of separate floors, this can still be achieved with some clever storage, spatial planning and revised layouts.”

It’s not just about having a designated space though, it’s also about what that space looks and feels like… Sarah also said “Natural light is a big thing for me and I’m not comfortable with a desk facing a wall as I tend to feel claustrophobic…. Work out what makes you comfortable and calm and arrange your space to work for you.”


As we all start to think about squeezing back into fitted clothes and the possibility of a holiday emerges, getting healthy is back on the agenda. As local walks lose their appeal and you’ve exhausted all the workout DVDs (or in our case, chucked them out of guilt!) it might be time to step up the game.

We recently met Tim from Tenth Avenue Leisure who specialise in home gym installation. Not only can Tim advise on the best products for you (or your principal) but he negotiates excellent prices and oversee the proper installation. Working with the top end of the Premier League and Premiership Rugby clubs, as well as star-players’ own homes, Tim is often asked to create bespoke in-home set-ups for specific training or physio requirements.


As Spring arrives, the sun sheds light on dusty corners or fading fabrics. It also brings inspiration to fix up and refresh the spaces we love!

If a new look is what you’re after, we recommend reaching out to the incredible team at Alexander James Interiors. With experience everywhere from a Cotswold barn or a Georgian family country home to a London chapel conversion or even a hotel in Minsk, they bring a fresh perspective and a wealth of knowledge to any setting. Their luxe fabrics and clever creation of calm is ideal in a central London residence.

For a slightly more bohemian feel (think Notting Hill rather than Mayfair) we love the work of Rosanna Bossom. The stunning use of colour and pattern brings warmth and life to any space and we love her air of whimsy present in many of her projects.

If you don’t want to do a complete overhaul, check out the BBB Boutique on the app for great savings from beautiful brands such as Graham and Green.


If the pandemic has made your principal rethink their current living situation, whether it’s finding a new place in town to live, buying a second home in the county or moving out or town entirely, we have some expert recommendations to help you. Moving house is said to be one of the top 3 most stressful experiences in life, but we’d argue that doing it on behalf of someone else is worse! Unrealistic expectations, hours of calling agents and attending unsuitable viewings takes its toll. That’s where the BBB community comes in, to offer contacts and advice to help make the process painless.

The Property folder in the BBB app offers suggestions of brilliant companies to help your principal relocate. If the countryside is calling, Middleton Advisors are experts in the Home Counties and can help find beautiful off-market properties full of rustic charm. If the plan is to stay in the city, be that renting, buying a new home or sourcing an additional property, Rose Capital and RFR can offer expert advice with a discreet, professional approach. Instead of working for the seller as traditional estate agents do, they work for the buyer, doing the legwork and removing stress to achieve the best possible location and price. Whether it’s a turnkey purchase or rental, a ‘doer upper’ or an acquisition for complete renovation, these excellent Partners have contacts far and wide to source the best off-market properties.

New Partners at BBB are Landmass London, who work across several areas but they specialise in two main areas optimising light and space and adding value to your property. They work across architecture and renovations and interior design projects to an impeccable standard. They also specialise in property acquisitions, finding a dilapidated building and developing it into the client’s dream home, with bespoke design but of course also adding value. Their wealth of knowledge is highly recommended for anyone tasked with any project of this nature for even the most demanding of clients.

Although we hope to be out of the house more this summer than last, we feel certain that the way we all look at our homes has changed forever. As the lines between living and working spaces have blurred and we spend more time inside our four walls, it’s important we take the time to appreciate and maximise whatever we have. Our homes are our castles after all…