Through the keyhole in: Deal

The colourful kitchen

The colourful kitchen - Credit: Archant

Discover the creative space made by writer Anstey Spraggan and violin maker Colin Cross at their seaside home

Anstey Spraggan, a writer and teacher and her violin maker and restorer partner Colin Cross were living in Derbyshire until their five children grew up, then they took the opportunity to escape to the sun as soon as the last one went off to university.

The sun in this case is shining not on some foreign beach, but on Kent’s very own Deal. “I grew up in Deal and have always liked it,” says Anstey.

“I have many happy memories of the area and my mother lived here for a long time after I’d left, so my children spent their summers on this beach when they were little.”

The couple have been back in Kent for two and a half years and in their house near the sea for just over a year. Living in Deal really suits them; everything from the arts and music scene to the ease of buying local produce and the ability to do most things on foot, with public transport or by bike.

They buy their coffee from Real Deal Roasters, who roast and grind the coffee just round the corner from our house (“we can even smell the coffee roasting when the wind is in the right direction”), enjoy a weekly delivery of vegetables to the door and buy almost everything else they need from local traders or either of the two local markets. See also Deal feature on page 38.

“Many of the shops in Deal High Street have been here since I was a child and it’s good to know they’ve hung on through some difficult times. I missed being able to get to London galleries easily when we were in Derbyshire and the new all-day HS1 service from Deal makes trips to town very easy,” adds Anstey.

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Anstey enjoys being able to work in the same building part of the time (Colin also works in London and she teaches at the Astor Theatre in Deal twice a week).

With two dogs, they can fit their working day around walking them and – more often than not – enjoying a leisurely lunch.

The house is a tall, semi-detached Edwardian townhouse with the advantage of being close to the sea and having its own garden – and parking, both pretty rare this close to the centre of Deal.

“We haven’t done much to the house as we’ve only been here for a year and our priority was to get Colin’s violin studio settled and sorted out,” explains Anstey.

“We also did quite a bit to the garden as we spend a lot of time entertaining out there in the summer.”


Their favourite piece of work that has been done so far is the light in the kitchen. An electrician fitted a central rose with six junctions for cables and then they used a combination of shades and bulbs to make it look unique (see picture on page 135).

“I tried to buy glass lampshades from various sources but they were all very expensive, so I went to charity shops. The style of our decor is eclectic and has been patched together from various travels and lucky finds,” says Anstey.

“The kitchen units and floor were here when we arrived, so it was literally just a case of imprinting our own stamp on the existing room. We sourced a lot of our things from local shops – our crockery and table mats come from Taylor-Jones and Son, for example. The table came from a junk shop in Folkestone and the chairs are from Inside Out in Deal; we presume they’re from an old pub.”

The speaker on the kitchen mantelpiece is made from an old Redifusion box and means that they can enjoy music straight from their iphones or mp3s “without shiny modern-looking gadgets that wouldn’t suit our tastes at all,” says Anstey.

“We have another retro amplifier upstairs that is made from an old cigar box, made by the same firm in Sandwich.”


“The bathroom is a collection of things that have come together over the years. We started with the painting – it’s a picture of Bruce Lee by an artist called Matt Pickering, which I bought it when I taught Business for Fine Art at Canterbury College.

“The director’s chair is one of two that we bought on Deal market and the pot plants have all grown from cuttings sent from a friend in Manchester.”

Sitting room

“Our walls are painted with paint that we had made up at Brewers in Canterbury; it meant that we could get a shade that lay midway between two greys we liked.

“When all our children and their partners come home for Christmas we need a lot of seats so we bought two hearty three-seaters. Where we live is going to be dictated by the size of those sofas for a long time!

“The pictures in the sitting room are a photograph of Colin’s father as an apprentice furniture maker and a painting by local artist Richard Friend.

“We are big fans of Deal pictures and have quite a collection by a variety of local artists. There is a lot of landscape around Deal to use for material.

“The copper pheasant was made by local artist Emily Stone who exhibits regularly at Dunlin and Diver.

“Her work has such an amazing quality of movement to it.”


“Richard Taylor-Jones, whose wife Sonya owns Taylor-Jones & Sons in Deal High Street, is a wildlife cameraman and photographer – he works mainly for the BBC.

“The beautiful print on our wall is one of a series he has done of the buoy opposite his house on Deal seafront.

“He has taken a number of these pictures in different lights and weathers; each day gives the buoy a different feel and the photograph a completely different texture.

“This one is my favourite – it was taken on a long exposure and I love how the light has given the sea an almost surreal quality. The colours are so very Deal.”

Get the look


Small glass shade, 20p in the local Red Cross Shop

Skeleton metal lampshade, from the Pilgrim’s Hospice shop, its fabric removed with a scalpel blade

Crockery and table mats, Taylor-Jones and Son, 152 High Street, Deal 01304 362671

Table, from a junk shop in Folkestone

Chairs, Inside Out, 3A Victoria Road, Deal, 07734 053501

Speaker made from an old Redifusion box by Quakermaker, 07580 319 850,, based in Sandwich

Sitting room

Paint made up at Brewers Canterbury, 01227 863800,

Sofas and footstool from Laura Ashley, Canterbury, 0871 223 1438,

Standard lamp and throw from Taylor-Jones and Son, 152 High Street, Deal 01304 362671


Bed, Canterbury Beds, 01227 766590,

Bed linen, M&S,

Bed cover and cushions, Dunlin and Diver, 112 High Street, Deal, 01304 373121,

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