SELLER: Gary Numan
LOCATION: Waldron, Heathfield, East Sussex, UK
SIZE: 3,789 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: There are scads of a-listers and pop stars currently making waves amongst all the celebrity real estate gossip columns. Take for example Katy Perry’s (alleged) recent sale of the New York City duplex love nest she briefly shared with soon-to-be ex-husband Russell Brand and Mister Barry Manilow re-listing his ocean front contemporary in Malibu, CA at a $6,995,000 price tag after first listing it in early 2009 at the substantially higher $12,600,000.
Your Mama opts instead this morning to turn away from the cavalcade of reality tee-vee stars and high-polish Tinseltown celebs and dip into our own well of musical nostalgia in order to discuss the arguably influential if somewhat esoteric music industry touchstone Gary Numan who, we learned via a covert communique received over the weekend from I.M. Alittlebirdie, owns a house in the English countryside currently on the market with an asking price of £995,000.
(A quick consultation with Your Mama’s currency conversion contraption shows the £995,000 guide price for Mister Numan’s small estate, situated about 1.5 hours drive from Buckingham Palace in bucolic Waldron, Heathfield, East Sussex, converts to $1,617,770 at today’s rates.
Mister Numan—née Webb—may not have a recognizable name like more current music industry heavy hitters Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and still-spooky Marilyn Manson, who both cite Mister Numan as an influence, but once upon a time the peculiar musician was an important pioneer in the post-punk electro-pop genre that bubbled up in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Commercially the oddly mannered, angsty, aloof and somewhat otherworldly Mister Numan—who may or may not have some shade of Asperger’s Syndrom—was, in reality, a bit of a one or two-hit-wonder but his hard-driving yet ethereal, synthesizer-based compilations were unquestionably part of what was then a sub-pop-cultural zeitgeist and he continues to make critically acclaimed if not exactly commercially successful industrial-edged music.
Surely even some of the children under 40 recognize his 1979 number one hit Cars, a swooping and swooning ditty that sounds to Your Mama like the noise plastic would make if plastic could make noise and—believe it or not—sometimes pops up on the shuffle of Your Mama’s iMagiggythingamabob.
As a slight aside: Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor is an on-the-record appreciator of Mister Numan’s contribution to the music scene and at least once in 2009 Mister Numan made a surprise appearance on stage with NIN to perform a suped-up and soul-shaking version of Cars. Have mercy, butter beans, we could watch Mister Reznor work that tambourine all damn day long but that’s a bit T.M.I. and of zero consequence to the matter at hand, isn’t it?
Anyhoo, listing information and marketing materials forwarded by I.M. Alittlebirdie indicate the two story (plus attic) residence sits on 7.6 gated, partially sylvan acres and contains 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms in 3,789 square feet of interior space all of which is depicted in listing photographs (and a 2007 article in The Independent) as marinated in an idiosyncratically monochromatic and corporeal color spectrum that meanders from blood red to fleshy coral to straight-up Pepto-Bismal pink.
Don’t misjudge Your Mama’s sass and flabbergast about Mister Numan’s color choices because we are hardly opposed to the color pink as a decorative option. Any of of our many b.f.f.s who used to visit Your Mama back in the olden days when we occupied a just-about-dirt-cheap, rent-stabilized two-bedroom apartment on the Lower East Side of New York can verify there was a large wall behind a ticky-tacky, $2 gas stove in our postage stamp-sized kitchen that was for many years painted a particularly saccharine and not-quite-right shade of bubble gum pink. It was rather fetching if a tad bit alarming but worked, we thought, because it such a small dose. That said, any and every day of the damn week we’d much prefer to look at pictures of this unquestionably quirky and deeply personal innards-hued country house in the U.K. than a wrist-slittingly banal, all-beige, faux-Tuscan/mock-Med mcmansion in some upscale, cookie cutter gated development in some upscale, cookie cutter suburban enclave.
Of course, the furniture and slightly sinister, quasi-Gothic day-core will go with Mister Numan, his wife Gemma and their three unusually named daughters Raven, Persia and Echo whence they vacate the premises. And, of course, the pink-, salmon- and tomato-colored walls can be quickly painted to any color more suited to the new owner’s preferences. Less easy (and more costly) to change is the structure itself, a U-shaped residence originally built in the 1920s, later expanded according to listing information and dubbed Weavers Cottage.
The pink stucco and cedar-shingled cottage-style exterior gives way to a double-height reception hall/foyer with wood floors and a curved, floating staircase lined with swords of one sort or another. The fleshy pink walls and ceiling make a lurid if amusing backdrop for a mix-and-match group of potted plants and flowers that include the exact kind of fresh cut lilies that remind Your Mama of funerals. Tucked under the stairs stands an unexpectedly friendly-looking taxidermy white Alaskan timber wolf.
A set of double doors connect to a spacious but uncomfortably low-ceiling drawing room with multiple seating areas, a hulking brick fireplace with a massive maw of a fire box, and a bank of multi-mullioned French doors that open to the south-facing terrace tucked into the shallow courtyard of the U-shaped house.
Beyond the drawing room (and up a few steps up) there’s a storage closet, small study and a second sitting room/den with hot pink short shag wall-to-wall carpeting, rich red walls and (low) ceiling, tapestry-like drapery, a couple of wall-mounted bas reliefs of Buddha (or some other Thai or Hindu god we can’t identify), and a most-unusual, riveted leather and velvet brocade sectional sofa in soft shades of blood and cooked tongue.
A surprisingly wee formal dining room furnished with carved wood dining set that looks straight out of The Lord of the Rings connects the principal drawing room to the eat-in country kitchen painted pretty close to the same chalky pink color of—you got it—Pepto-Bismol and equipped with Indian slate tile on the floor, polished butcher block counter tops, a deep farmhouse sink, and a two-oven Aga range set into a deep, brick-lined niche. An adjoining boot/laundry room allows for easy access to the backyard and barbecue.
The gracefully curved staircase in the foyer ascends to a second floor gallery that over looks the foyer and leads and off of which open the three, unspeakably narrow three guest/family bedrooms that share a windowed hall bathroom with free-standing soaking tub/shower. At the far end of the hall, set best for privacy from the other three bedrooms, the bi-level master suite encompasses a dressing area, walk-in closet and bedroom area described by Mister Numan in The Independent in 2007 as “very calm and relaxing” with dark red walls, “lots of low glitter lights,” and “a huge Louis XIV bed that dominates the space.”
A narrow, hidden staircase climbs up to a garret-like attic space with what appear to be a couple of sky lights. The floor plan included with various online listings and marketing materials labels the space a “games room” but would certainly be suitable for use as storage or living space for a live-in domestic.
A wide, stone terrace extends off the back of the house and overlooks the bucolic gardens and grounds that encompass, according to listing information, sweeping expanses of lawn bordered by mature trees and thick, sylvan woodland, formal gardens, some fruit trees, a picturesque stream spanned by a wood bridge that connects to several paddock and various ponds.
Although in 2007 Mister Numan told The Independent he “…could never live in a city. There’s too much noise—I’m too vulnerable and it’s too unpredictable. You are very much at the mercy of other people. When I have space and peace, I can think and write.” He seems to have changed his mind about that because, shortly after the devastating London riots in August 2011, rumors and reports began to circulate Mister Numan—somewhat reclusive, a little xenophobic, and socio-politically Libertarian-like—planned to decamp to the sunny streets of notoriously politically correct but not exactly rural Santa Monica, CA, an often traffic-jammed Los Angeles beach community he described last year to the U.K.’s Daily Record through rose-tinted glasses as “not having one bit of trouble and not one surly or aggressive person there.” Your Mama suggests Mister Numan visit the Santa Monica pier on any sunny weekend—lots of volatile looking young people—or try to snag one of those obscenely puny parking spots behind Santa Monica Seafood on any Saturday at noon and he’ll see just how aggressive and surly a Prius-driving Santa Monican can really be. Seriously.
If the space desiring and security-minded Mister Numan does decide to decamp to Santa Monica, Your Mama regrets to inform him he may be hard pressed to find a property suitable to his needs and desires, at least one anywhere near the same price range as the East Sussex spread he’s currently listed at what amounts to just over $1.6 million. There are, according to Trulia, a paltry handful of properties priced under two million (American) dollars in the much coveted (and shockingly expensive 90402 zip code that encompasses the number streets north of Montana Avenue and down into the leafy lanes of the scenic Santa Monica and Rustic Canyons.
listing photos and floor plan: Strutt & Parker