New Zealand properties star in British TV series about 'extraordinary homes'

Actress Caroline Quentin and architect Piers Taylor present The World's Most Extraordinary Homes.

Actress Caroline Quentin and architect Piers Taylor present The World's Most Extraordinary Homes.

Watching the first episode of a show about spectacular homes, you can't help but feel a stab of envy. 

Wouldn't it be fantastic to live in a Santa Monica house made using the repurposed tail and fins of a decommissioned Boeing 747? In The World's Most Extraordinary Homes, actress Caroline Quentin (Men Behaving Badly, Jonathan Creek) takes a peek at this home with architect Piers Taylor 

Like a couple of over-excited children, they jump on one of the home's wings and marvel at the design of the house in its beautiful location.

This Marlborough Sounds property appears in an episode of The World's Most Extraordinary Homes.

This Marlborough Sounds property appears in an episode of The World's Most Extraordinary Homes.

During the filming of the series, the pair also visited Switzerland, Spain, Norway and New Zealand.

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During the filming of the series, the pair also visited Switzerland, Spain, Norway and New Zealand.

"It was my first time in New Zealand," says Quentin. "That was one of the reasons I took the gig. I've wanted to go for years. 

"My husband has relatives over there in Christchurch and I just thought I need to go and I need to have a look at it so when we were offered the chance to go with work, it was too fantastic really."

While in New Zealand, Quentin visited homes in the Marlborough Sounds, Piha and Wanaka.

She was particularly taken with the house in Marlborough.

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"That's one of the ones we really remember because you can only really get there by boat. You arrive into a little private jetty. 

"The owner is a famous cameraman. His house is really eclectic and fascinating and full of things from his career.

"It overlooks the water and it's built up and you feel in a way as if you are in amongst the wildlife, in amongst the nature. 

"But you can look out and see the creatures and the sea and the water so it's almost like being part of nature. It's a very lovely house. Very unpretentious."

While that home made an impact on Quentin, that wasn't the case with all the properties she visited. 

In the second part of the first episode, Taylor and Quentin visit a home in Arizona where people must walk across a set of concrete cubes to reach the front door – which is not easy as Quentin found out.

I mention that I'd struggle to navigate the cubes while laden with supermarket shopping bags. 

"I think a lot of it, the aesthetic overrides the practicalities and I think if you're someone who has to feed other people or has chores to do you think it looks fabulous but how on earth would I actually function in this place?" says Quentin.

And just in case you're wondering, none of the programme's homes were made on a tight budget.

"I don't think you'd say any of these homes are modest or humble," says Quentin. "Even the less grand ones are eye-wateringly expensive. They are very much dream homes. There was nothing ordinary about any of them. 

"A lot of these guys are architects, builders, things like that so, therefore, they can afford to design and build and it will cost them much less but I still think for most people they are totally unachievable. 

"It's very much looking at how the other half live and how if you have got access to a beautiful piece of land and if you can afford to build a dream house, it's about looking at a window into other people's lives. 

"I don't know anybody who could afford to build that sort of house. They are very high spec, all very different, all very personal to the people that built them. 

"What's great about it I think is that you can take ideas from them. I took some ideas from them about using certain sorts of timber or the idea of using fixtures and fittings from unusual places. So you can nick ideas and put them into your ordinary house but the actual houses, they are fantasy homes."

Quentin bought her first house at age 24 with her sister when she was appearing in a West End production of Les Miserables. She says it was a "very tiny basement flat". 

These days, home is a Devon farmhouse where she lives with her husband and their two teenage children plus a variety of animals.

"I have to say I didn't envy anybody's home," she says of the properties she visited for The World's Most Extraordinary Homes. "When I came home to my ordinary little farmhouse ... it's lovely. It's got lovely views but it's not special in any way."

She says it is comforting to return to your own home, even if the windows don't shut properly and the house isn't spotless.

"You tear your hair out thinking 'Oh please tidy up' but when you go to houses that are permanently tidy it slightly freaks you out."

The Worlds' Most Extraordinary Homes, Living Channel, starts Sunday June 11, 8.30pm.

 - TV Guide

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