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Property: Going to Town in Ely


By Alice Ryan


Walk into the showhouse at King’s Row and you have to suppress the urge to shrug off your coat, kick off your shoes and curl up on the sofa. Showhouses are so often bland and cold-feeling; this one, in contrast, is singularly inviting.

“That is the challenge,” concedes interior designer Cate Burren, of Cambridge’s Angel + Blume. “You want to avoid blandness, but also create spaces that anyone walking through the door could visualise living in. You want the rooms to feel cosy, not staged.”

The development, brainchild of Palace Green Homes, comprises a terrace of six townhouses. Spanning three storeys, four bedrooms and early Georgian in style, their golden brick facades, many windows and portico doors are all elegance. Established by East Cambridgeshire District Council in 2016, Palace Green aims to address the area’s housing shortage, while raising funds for services and infrastructure; all profits go back into the council pot. A companion development to King’s Row, providing affordable housing, has created a further five apartments just up the street.

Leading a guided tour of the showhouse, Cate explains she collaborated with both Palace Green and the team at Cambridge’s Haysom Ward Miller, the RIBA award-winning architecture practice which designed the development. The aim, she explains, was to combine a sense of luxury with a light-filled and liveable scheme.

Ely King's Row (8001723)
Ely King's Row (8001723)

First stop on the tour is the sitting room, with its focal fireplace and log burner. Neutral walls and sofas are lifted by a sunburst mirror, plentiful framed prints, a statement yellow chair, chequered Melin Tregwynt cushions and the most beautiful blinds – handiwork of Royston company Borders & Bows.

Indeed, the interior is something of a calling card for local businesses: most of the vintage and antique pieces, mixed with the new to give a more ‘real home’ feel to the scheme, explains Cate, came from Ely’s own Waterside Antiques. “That was a focus for me: we all have pieces which we’ve accumulated through life which move house with us. The idea was to show how they could work in a new setting, alongside contemporary pieces.”

With its Silestone tops, painted Shaker-style cabinets and top-notch Neff appliances – including an iconic Slide&Hide Oven, made famous by TV’s Great British Bake Off – the open-plan kitchen/dining room is also full of personality, courtesy of bold pop-arty prints and orange velvet dining chairs. There’s a handy utility tucked around the corner and glass doors open onto the grassed garden; cross the lawn and you’re at the back door to the garage, which has a vast room above – perfect for a home office, children’s playroom or teenage hideaway.

“That’s one of the things that really impressed me about these houses: they’re so well thought-out,” says Cate, heading upstairs, where standout spaces include the bathrooms (Duravit sanitaryware, Hansgrohe showers and taps), the study (the antique desk, dressed with retro radio, tin toy car and stationery, is a delight) and the master bedroom (right at the top of the house, it has the loveliest roof-and-sky views).

Though Cate only fully furnished the showhouse, she has also schemed the walls, floors, kitchens, bathrooms and even front doors of all six King’s Row properties. “I didn’t want people popping round to see their new neighbours and thinking ‘Oh, this kitchen’s just the same as mine’, so while they’re complementary, they’re all different,” she explains. The front doors, all a Mylands shade, span Myrtle Green, Mayfair Dark Blue and Theatreland, a deep red. These houses may be a matching row, but they’re anything but cookie-cutter.

Every creature comfort – underfloor heating, soft-under-foot stair runners, the log burner – has been considered, too. “I love the thought of someone coming in and thinking ‘Oh yes! I want to live here’,” adds Cate. “These aren’t just houses – they’re designed to be real homes.”

King’s Row is at Barton Road, Ely. On the market with Cheffins – call (01353) 654900 or email ely@cheffins.co.uk - prices start at £669,950. For more information, visit palacegreenhomes.co.uk/kings-row-ely