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Leaving London: how one family swapped a Hoxton high-rise block for a Kent townhouse with sea views

Cayli and Teah Hutton have found a renovation project and a creative community in Ramsgate  (ES Composite)
Cayli and Teah Hutton have found a renovation project and a creative community in Ramsgate (ES Composite)

Over the past few years Cayli Hutton has moved incrementally further from central London. And with every mile she has put between herself and the city she has been able to buy herself more space for less money.

For 25 years Cayli lived in Hoxton, buying a flat in the heartland of East London’s arts scene well before the area was fashionable.

Then, in 2014, she decided to step out of Zone 1 and move out to Epping where not only could she get more house for her budget but she could enjoy the open spaces of Epping Forest and a more peaceful way of life. She exchanged her Hoxton flat for a two-bedroom house in Epping, and commuted to work as a lead matron working for Homerton Hospital.

Cayli, 53, has always been creative and had studied at Central Saint Martins before turning to nursing. But working and commuting left her little time for pursuing interests like painting or upcycling furniture.

“Then a friend of mine moved to Margate,” she said. “I started coming down at the weekends and seeing what was going on. It was a very vibrant and collective community that I could see myself fitting into.”

In 2019 Cayli took the plunge, transferred her job to a Kent hospital, and sold her Epping house for £430,000. She then spent £286,000 on a four-bedroom, three storey Victorian townhouse with a sea view in Ramsgate which she now shares with her daughter, Teah Hutton, 23, an interior architect and stylist.

Although a four-bedroom house for less than £300,000 sounds like a fantastic deal the Ramsgate house needed considerable renovation.

Over the years that followed Cayli got busy getting the house rewired, rebuilding a tired old lean to at the back of the house, having new windows installed, and smartening up the exterior with a new coat of render. She also exposed long boarded up fireplaces and installed reclaimed fire surrounds.

Lockdown was spent scraping wallpaper, removing layers of paint, and chipping away plasterwork to expose the bricks beneath.

“There was a lot more to do than I had realised but every time we started on one thing we discovered new problems,” said Cayli.

Meanwhile, last year, Cayli took early retirement so she could concentrate full time on her art, making a drastic career pivot from matron to maker.

She has rented a studio and is exploring a wide range of artforms including interior styling, mixed media, upholstery, fabric design, and watercolour painting (@thedutchvictorian).

“I have met a lovely group of people in Ramsgate – I can go into the town centre and bump into friends, I have people to go for a drink with, and everybody here is very encouraging to each other,” said Cayli. “I have been welcomed into the art community which has been very empowering for me.”