Sarah Beeny – Inspirational Woman!

Update! Many of you will have seen Sarah’s recent TV programme, Restoration Nightmare in which she renovated her huge stately home to use as a wedding venue. She mentioned the house in her original interview with me but I had no idea of the tremendous amount of work involved! And so I asked her a few follow up questions, which you can see below…

I was really thrilled when Sarah Beeny agreed to give Changing People an interview; she is a TV personality I much admire and her output is prodigious! Not only TV programmes, but also two web sites, one on dating and one on her first love, property.

Jane: Sarah, thanks so much for taking some time out of your busy working life to talk with us. And that busy schedule includes TV work, like ‘Your House is falling Down’ and ‘Property Ladder.’ You also run ‘Tepilo’, a market leading private property site and ‘My Single Friend’ a dating website where friends can nominate a single friend. It’s exhausting just listing it all! Share your secrets, please!

So, my first question is, how do you manage to juggle all your commitments?
Sarah:
It can get very interesting – I’m a bit of a control freak and not very good at delegating. Sometimes I do feel a little like I’m drowning, but then that’s my own fault for taking it all on. I don’t like letting people down, and there’s always a long list of things I should be doing. My children have been and always will be my priority – and I just have to make time for the rest when I can. I have a great team of people around me, including my husband, so I’m lucky in that respect.

How did you first get into TV work? Were you already involved in property?
Yes, property has always been in my blood really. My father was an architect and I was immersed in property from an early age. I started a property development company with my brother and husband when I was 24. Getting on TV after that was just coincidence really – I met a producer at a hen party, went for a screen test and was thrown in at the deep end after that.

You always seem so enthusiastic on TV and your pregnancies have been much commented on. (You now have 4 children). Has it ever caused you any problems professionally being so obviously a parent? Eg How do the workmen react to you when you start clambering on roofs?
Just to set the record straight here I have 4 boys – so I haven’t been pregnant non stop for the last 20 years or anything – although sometimes it does feel like it. I’ve always been quite hands on, so I love getting stuck into projects – I don’t think anyone has been able to stop me so far. Being a working parent has actually been good for my career I think and it’s nice to be able to encourage other mothers or fathers to get out there and work at the same time as looking after the family.

How do you cope with comments about your appearance? Does it bother you? You seem on the surface well able to take it in your stride but does it ever get to you?
It doesn’t really bother me to be honest – people will always have their views and they’re welcome to them – hopefully I can take most of it in my stride. Mostly I’m flattered by how many lovely people there are out there.

What was your school career like? Were there any hints of the media career to follow?
I was quite entrepreneurial from a young age actually, so there was probably more sign of the businesses coming out – I studied Drama, so I guess that’s where the TV side of things originated, but I hadn’t predicted that things would turn out the way they have.

Your dating site is quite a departure from your property interests. What prompted you to start that?
The idea for mysinglefriend.com came from real life. I’m known amongst my friends as a bit of a matchmaker and I was always trying to set people up on dates. I reached the point where I had run out of people so thought there must be somewhere I can post a profile of my friends and use the web to find them someone. It then kind of grew from there and more and more people started to use the site.

If you could give your younger self some advice now, what would it be?
Don’t give up piano lessons and find a hobby that means you never have to consciously commit to ‘exercise’.

Who most inspires you now on a professional level?
I think most of the many entrepreneurs and people starting their own companies are inspirational – it’s great to see so many great ideas being developed and the effort put in, lengths people go to and sacrifices made to succeed. 

What has been your biggest achievement to date, the thing you are most proud of?
That would have to be my children – but I’m very proud of my websites and where they have got to. Tepilo seems to be growing very quickly now.

What’s been the best mistake you ever made?
That would probably be my children too…

How do you recharge your batteries?
We have a house in Yorkshire that we escape to. We’ve been renovating it over the last year or so, so I’m not sure it’s been so relaxing recently, but it’s time out from our busy work schedule and most importantly time together as a family.

Having now seen Restoration Nightmare I can’t imagine that it was relaxing at all, although I can see that it made a break from what you normally do! It seems your heart truly ruled your head when you bought that lovely property. Do you think people should buy homes with their heart and investment properties with their heads?
Yes, well to some extent – you always need to have a head involved, but if you’re buying somewhere to settle for a few years and fall in love with the property, then surely the pleasure you get from it is worth something, and there’s a good chance it will be there for others too.

You talked often about how much you loved Rise Hall, almost as if it were a house with a personality. Do you think buildings do ‘give out’ in this way, that it’s possible to pick up atmospheres and feelings from buildings? By the way, I speak as someone who bought her first and only home over 30 years because it ‘felt right’ as soon as I was inside the front door, although nothing else was right! The house (no Rise Hall but a small stone built box!) is about 100 years old and we are only the third people to have lived in it, so I think it must have exerted that pull on others!
I would certainly like to think so – but it’s really the fact that they become part of your life, a project that you work over the years on and something you add your own personality to. Make a house a home is still one of the best sayings.

In your experience who makes the major decisions in relationships about house buying? Are men less emotional than women, or is that stereotypical nonsense? And who has the last word in choosing the wedding venues?
I think it’s actually quite mixed – a lot of the time it’s the person who is most dominant in the relationship, other times it’s the one spending most time there.

What advice would you give to someone buying their first home now?
For first time buyers it’s all about finance – be careful what you borrow and spend time working out what you can afford. It’s not worth the sleepless nights if you struggle.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Positive things happen to positive people.

What advice would you give anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
You should only regret things you don’t do, not things you do – so be brave and go for it.

Sarah, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us, I really appreciate it. Many thanks!
And if you’d like to take a look at Sarah’s websites, My Single Friend is here , Tepilo, her property site can be found here, and if you’d like to check out ‘Help, My House is falling Down!’ click here!  And if you have any thoughts to share on what makes a house a home and how you decided to buy your home, please comment below!

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Posted on October 21st, 2010 by

2 Responses to “Sarah Beeny – Inspirational Woman!”

  1. What a fab interview, Jane and Sarah. I’m a big fan of Help, My House Is Falling Down!

    I like the advice that you’ll only ever regret things you don’t do. That’s so true, and very inspiring to hear from someone who has clearly lived from that place.

    Thank you!

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