Devon’s prettiest homes: A multi-million pound waterside home in Torquay
- Credit: Archant
Ex-Chelsea footballer Colin Lee came home to Devon and built an incredible multi-million pound waterside house. CHRISSY HARRIS takes a look around
Infinity House is a home of two halves. On the one hand, it is a magnificently minimalist, white, bright, open plan celebration of modern living. But go through the mirrored wall (yes!) and you’ll find cosy rooms, kitted out with traditional furniture, thick carpets and curtains.
The contrast perfectly suits Colin and Lyn Lee, a couple who enjoy the high life but remain refreshingly down to earth. Former professional footballer Colin, 62, has played for Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and was the manager of teams including Wolverhampton Wanderers.
He was also an international scout for England during a career that has taken him all over the world and brought him the trappings of a five-star lifestyle.
But he hasn’t forgotten where it all began. In 2007, Colin came back to where he started playing first team football and became the chief executive of Torquay United until 2010.
He now helps to train Devon’s football stars of the future as part of the Chelsea FC Foundation, which has a base at South Dartmoor Academy in Ashburton.
Sitting here at home in Torquay, gazing out over his infinity swimming pool, perfectly landscaped gardens and what has to be one of the best views in Devon, Colin agrees life’s pretty good. And he’s just become a grandparent.
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“That’s definitely changed our outlook,” he says, showing me a picture of three-month-old Flossie, soon to be joined by another grandchild in November.
“People say that it makes you see everything differently but you don’t realise it until you have that experience.”
Such a dramatic change in circumstances has made Colin and Lyn, 64, want to downsize slightly and move to the other side of town. Infinity House is on the market for £3million and if it sells at that price, it will be one of Torbay’s most expensive residential properties.
But you get what you pay for – roughly 7,000 square feet of pure luxury.
As well as a gulp-inducing view, the Lees’ modern mansion includes a cinema room, a ‘Chelsea-themed bar’, a dance floor, that infinity swimming pool, a huge living area and an incredible clutter-free kitchen.
Colin admits he likes things tidy and preferably at the touch of a button. “This is telescopic,” he says as he gently nudges the tap and it appears out of nowhere. “Then this fridge lights up and the blinds come down here,” he continues, picking up various remote controls as we carry on through the house.
The fire is controlled with the touch of a button and has different lighting systems.
There is surround-sound music throughout and upstairs. I gaze in wonder as a big screen drops down from the ceiling in the master bedroom.
“I do like gadgets like that,” says Colin, admitting it was great designing his own home from scratch.
The couple were living in a stately home in Derbyshire before they made the move to Devon and found their perfect plot in the highly sought after Ilsham Marine Drive area of Torquay.
There was a bungalow on the site but Colin and Lyn knew they could do better than that. They kept some of the structure of the original building but then worked with architects to create a ‘superhome’.
Infinity House took around four years to complete, with Colin using his management skills to oversee the project. It was stressful, but easier than being on the sidelines.
“That’s one of the hardest things in management, making decisions from the side of the pitch,” he says, recalling his days in the dugout. “Okay, you can plan, of course you do, but it doesn’t always fall into place and you’ve got to act straight away. Then you’ve got 25 to 30,000 fans behind you that know better.”
Thankfully, Infinity House is a real crowd-pleaser and both Colin and Lyn say they love living here.
In the summer, they’re out in the pool or on the huge decking area, or just relaxing in the front room, drinking in that view of Thatcher Rock and the whole of Torbay.
In the winter, they retreat through the looking glass to the other section of the house.
“Look, let me show you this,” says Colin as he points to the giant mirrored wall.
“You know in older house you get the bookcases that spin and lead to another room? Well, this is our version – a mirrored wall you can go through. This is our winter room. It’s much more traditional.”
Having a retro feel on this side of the house means the couple have been able to bring in some of their furniture from their stately home and make it work here.
“We like this twist to the house,” says Colin. “We like the modern look but we didn’t want it all white, we wanted some of it to look and feel different.”
The couple admit handing over their home to a new buyer will be a wrench but they’re both excited about what’s coming next.
The baby kit is starting to arrive and the pair plan to be hands-on grandparents when their daughter, Emma, moves to Torquay later this year. The couple’s son Marc is already living in the town.
“We thought our place in Derbyshire was going to be our forever house,” says Lyn, adding that the couple have had 24 or 25 homes over the years. “But things change. We love it down here now. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.”
Do they think it’s all over, moving-wise, of course?
“Hopefully the next one will be the last one,” says Colin. “Although we say that every time.”
Infinity House is for sale through HS Owen estate agents, hsowen.co.uk
For Colin’s academy work see chelseafc.com/en/foundation
Colin was born in Torquay and went to St Cuthbert Mayne School in the town.
He was selected to represent Torbay in both rugby and football but chose the latter and went to play for Bristol City’s reserve team when he was 15.
He later played for Torquay United before being signed by Tottenham Hotspur for £65,000 in 1977.
In 1980, he signed for Chelsea and scored 36 goals in 185 league games before taking up a career in management, heading up teams including Wolverhampton Wanderers and Millwall.
He became chief executive of Torquay United in 2007 until leaving in 2010. Colin is now on the coaching team at the Chelsea FC Foundation, which has a base at South Dartmoor Academy.
Colin and Lyn say they love entertaining in their party-ready home. The ‘Chelsea Bar’ downstairs has a dance floor and even a karaoke machine. Pictures from Colin’s footballing past hang on the wall.
“I still think of Chelsea as my team,” says Colin. “When I’m working with the foundation, I still wear the kit.”
Colin and Lyn’s son is a landscape gardener and designed the outside space, which has a Mediterranean feel.
As well as the infinity pool, there is a cascading waterfall feature running down the side of the garden into an ornamental pond.
Colin is still passionate about football and watches matches at home whenever he can.
“I played with some fantastic players, like Glenn Hoddle,” he says. “You don’t appreciate it at the time – you’re playing football, just doing something you enjoy doing.”
He adds: “You had to be focussed and committed. You can have the ability but ultimately, you’ve got to have the determination and focus. I’ve seen better players than me disappear. They think the ability is enough, but it’s not.”
Colin says today he admires players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Mo Salah.