Social worker Ashia Redhead explains how her house renovation has been the outlet for her creative energy, embellishing her passion for interiors and antiques into a warm family home with character
It was the start of the hottest weekend of the year so far and although it felt like summer, unbelievably it was only late March. Strolling in the morning sunshine, I made my way to the Belmont area of Hastings, to meet Ashia Redhead and family to find out about their move from East London to the south coast and their subsequent house renovation.
Ashia, a social worker, her partner Jason, a self-employed courier, Ashia’s mum Moni, a florist, along with their young daughter Zyra moved to Hastings from London to start a new life in January 2020. Pre-empting the pandemic driven exodus from the capital by nearly a year, they got a head start on many who made a beeline for the south coast.
Moving when they did meant they got a bargain by today’s market-value, snapping up an unloved three-bed Victorian semi with tonnes of potential, just 15 minutes’ walk from the beach and the charming narrow streets of old town Hastings. “Literally all the character was taken out of it,” Ashia explains. “Everything was magnolia, it was a holiday home for the former owner, and he’d gone back to America.”
I first came across Ashia’s conversion on Instagram, where she has swiftly amassed a following of over 4,000 people on her account @no2hastings. Her beautifully curated images showcase Ashia’s superb eye, which blends antiques and textiles with modern design and fresh colour palettes – all interlaced with cultural items which tell the stories of where their families have come from.
Ashia and Jason made the decision to leave London after growing tired of the endless cycle of renting, coupled with the arrival of Zyra and the need for more space. “I’ve lived in London my whole life,” says Ashia. “When I had my daughter, it felt like everything was so expensive. We were renting, had childcare costs and we felt we outgrew the flat.”
The house itself is easy to spot. The colour palette is a rich navy blue for the walls with a vibrant orange front door. “Our neighbour was painting his house and we complimented how neat it was. He said he could do ours.”
The sense of community surprised them both from the moment they arrived in the area, “As soon as we moved in, we had cards through the door saying welcome to the street, and people say good morning every day here!”
On entering the house I sat down to talk with Ashia in the lounge, many people’s favourite room and you can immediately see why. The walls are Farrow & Ball Bancha Green giving the room a rich feeling, contrasting delightfully with the floor length yellow curtains and the ever-so-comfy family sized sofa in mustard. The velvet tangerine armchair is a bold addition and gives another pop of colour to the room.
Ashia describes herself as a maximalist and this room is the epitome of what she loves – a house full of interesting things. There are exposed floorboards throughout the property and the lounge is no exception, a cashmere rug from Roberts Rummage in Hastings only adds to the hospitable energy the room exudes.
The early 20th century desk is an eBay purchase which fits perfectly into the alcove next to the chimney breast, juxtaposing with the Apple computer nicely. Antiques and trinkets fill spaces in the room and yellow candles are neatly lined up on several surfaces.
Moving when they did meant they got a bargain by today’s market-value, snapping up an unloved three-bed Victorian semi with tonnes of potential, just 15 minutes’ walk from the beach and the charming narrow streets of old town Hastings.
Ashia’s love of old things has been a lifelong passion, “My grandparents were antique dealers and I remember going to car boots with them. I used to love counting the money they made and looking for things. That’s why I’ve got such an interest in antiques. They’re from the Portsmouth area, so near the sea as well.”
Stepping into the hallway we find the marvellous gallery which offers a journey into black history. “We thought that would be great to have in our home so we can explain it to our children,” Ashia says. “Most of the pieces are by black artists or around that subject matter. As we started picking up pieces we liked, we realised that it all was referenced to our culture and our background.”
Stepping into the hallway we find the marvellous gallery which offers a journey into black history, featuring artwork depicting key moments and figures such as the Black Panthers, Black Lives Matter movement and the wonderful centrepiece, a colourful, vibrant piece representing the arrival of the Windrush generation to Britain by boat. “So we thought that would be great to have in our home so we can explain it to our children,” Ashia says, “and then from that it grew.” Most of the pieces are by black artists or around that subject matter. We just gradually started to collect them and put them up on the walls.”
“As we started picking up pieces we liked, we realised that it all referenced our culture and our background. My grandparents and Jason’s grandparents are from the Windrush generation.”
The hallway décor is Stiffkey Blue by Farrow & Ball on the stairs and up to the handrail which matches wonderfully with the off-white above. The exposed floorboards and the jute stair runners, an off-cut from the dining room, complete the look.
At the top of the stairs the hall leads into the children’s bedroom, where the walls are a warm amber tone. It gives a positive feeling, like a mother’s hug – perfect for the two little ones.
Initially the room was intended for three year old Zyra, but she made room for Zephyr when he arrived six months ago. Ashia chose this colour before Zephyr was born and deliberately kept it neutral so there was no need to repaint.
As you walk into the room you see Zyra’s mini bunk-bed complete with funky horse bedding, a host of cuddly toys and a princess canopy from Danish company Sebra. Underneath the bed is a cute den (surely every child’s dream), which she reads in before bed every night.
The next room is Ashia’s mum Moni’s room, who moved down with them. “She came down at the same time as us. I’d had Zyra and she wanted to be near her. So she decided to come. She had lived in London the majority of her life as well, but she is a keen walker and she loves it here.”
Moni’s room is decorated with a blush pink colour which gives the room a serene energy. Moni is a practising Buddhist and next to her bed is a prayer space for chanting. The gorgeous single bureau is unfolded and adorned with prayer beads and a Tibetan singing bowl.
To the left is a stunning piece of traditional Japanese artwork – a pink flower which one feels may have been the inspiration for the colour choice.
Ashia and Jason’s is the final bedroom, decorated in a dark blue-grey which makes the room feel contemporary and intimate. There are also a number of pieces of furniture they have purchased locally, “I think one of the first pieces we bought was the chest of drawers, it’s from 20th Century Funkin Junk. We love it and it fits in the alcove perfectly. It is mid-century and so is the bed design.”
The wardrobe, along with a few other items, is from Emmaus, a charity which gives their profits to the homeless. The bed throw is from Morocco and has travelled with Ashia through her life in London, “It’s wool and is super warm, I love it and I want to go back to Morocco to get more bits.”
Textiles are particularly important to Ashia, “They make the room. That’s why I love wool, it just brings a cosy richness. Without that bedspread, it would look like a totally different room. I think they just add a lot of character to things. I’m drawn to natural materials. All of our stuff is mainly natural, like linen, wool, cotton or wood – obviously, you can see we love wood.”
As we go downstairs we enter the penultimate space, the dining room, “It was originally burgundy and it was very dark in here. We freshened it up with Mylands paint. We’ve been working with Mylands through our Instagram account and they’ve been giving us paint in partnership for content. I used to use Farrow & Ball a lot, but now, I’m a convert. This is Grouse on the wall and Pediment on the ceiling.”
The flooring in the dining room is hard-wearing jute from Knotistry, the table is from Made and the chairs are vintage Ercol, on the wall there is a tongue-in-cheek illuminating Mona Lisa which looks over the family as they eat dinner.
In the kitchen they have upcycled the old laminate units, refreshing them with Haymarket yellow from Mylands, “So we’ve kept the cupboards and painted them and we’re going to get a new wood worktop and new sink. And then we’re going to pull up the flooring and get new tiling,” says Ashia.
Outside is a container garden, offering privacy as well as being a total suntrap in the summer. They have added decking and lots of pot plants to create a green space, with festoon lighting adding that bit of fun – a great place to kick back and chill.
Ashia and Jason’s is a spacious yet homely place, filled with love. You feel everything in here has a meaning. It flows beautifully from one room to the next and displays their character, life and journey.
Moving from London to Hastings must have been a difficult decision to make, leaving everything they have ever known behind, but in taking that chance they have created a new life for themselves and their children.
Hastings has welcomed them with open arms and I for one, am very glad they are here. They, along with all the other Londoners, have brought so much energy and vibrancy to the south coast, which makes it the exciting, vibrant place it is now.
20th Century Funkin Junk 20thcenturyfunkinjunk.co.uk
Roberts Rummage, Hastings Old Town
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