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Guaranteed Investment | From hairdresser to property enthusiast: a new style that turns heads

A hairdresser with a flair for renovation tells Zoe Dare Hall about doing up homes from rural England to Tuscany

As the founder of the Mahogany hairdressing chain, which has counted Samantha Cameron, Cheryl Cole and Greta Scaachi as clients, Richard Thompson has made some striking statements with his curling tongs.
But in the past 15 years, as his hair business has grown to include branches in London, Oxford, Bath and Manchester, Thompson has found another outlet for his creativity: property renovations. These have proven equally popular with celebrities, and include a penthouse in an old Highbury match factory, which Richard sold to the Alan Davies, the comedian, and a Georgian house in Hampstead that was bought by the singer David Gray.

The large walled garden, which the pair have landscaped with lawns, paths and topiary, is another highlight, reached by walking down two staircases from the barn. “The original farmhouse fell down about 100 years ago and only the barn was left. But by being set higher up, you almost feel you are sitting in a country manor looking down upon your estate,” says Thompson.
If he enjoys the grandeur of being elevated with incredible views below, then you can see why he was also attracted to the three-bedroom house in Cortona. He bought it for £250,000 “in its raw state” but has since spent untold multiples of that on its renovation.
It is one of the only detached casale — farmhouses — within the city’s ancient walls and is set high up with views across the Valdichiana valley and Lake Trasimeno. “We wanted to be in the centre of town to be immersed in Italian culture, part of the community, and to be able to walk to wine bars. The main street almost has a Primrose Hill vibe and a big international community,” says Thompson.
Many renovation experts stick to a formula they know works and sells well. But Richard has been eclectic in his selection. The 4,000 sq ft bleached white Highbury penthouse was the height of urban chic, with Thompson adding a 40ft swimming pool that inflated its price from the £600,000 he paid in 1997 to the £2 million he sold it for six years later. The Hampstead house, in historic Well Walk, was an exercise in restoring the property’s original Georgian splendour. And now Cortona is all about appreciating the listed house’s 900 years of history.
“They are all very different projects. But they are all about understanding what the property was meant to look like and keeping that sense of authenticity, while adding a modern touch,” he says…. – Source

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