Hot property: turning the key on Matt Gibberd’s digital life.

‘Anyone who has a tendency to waste time daydreaming should steer well clear of The Modern House: the forward-looking estate agency masterminded by Messrs Matt Gibberd and Albert Hill.’ That’s according to Mr Porter and, as just the types given to exactly such covetous reveries, we can attest, alas, to the truth of that summation.

Since its launch in 2005, The Modern House has revolutionised the world of estate agency. Focused on excellence in design – whether a sublime expression of mid-century modernism or the exemplar of a Georgian townhouse – it has, quite simply, rewritten the rulebook. To scroll through its Instagram feed is akin to browsing the very glossiest of interiors magazine.

That last stands to reason. For before Matt – along with co-founder Albert Hill – conceived of the idea, he did indeed write for, perhaps, the very glossiest and most stylish of all the interiors magazines: The World of Interiors. Similarly, Albert was design editor at Wallpaper* under its inaugural and trailblazing editor, Tyler Brûlé. In The Modern House, the two sensibilities collide to becoming effect: the cutting-edge design of the latter with the charming eclecticism of the former. Their shared editorial background meanwhile informed their discernment from the outset, thus creating a useful shorthand; soon enough, The Modern House would become a byword for the most beautiful houses on the market.



These days, the operation has expanded well beyond the original double act. There is an ever-burgeoning team, largely comprised of people covered in History of Art degrees or similar. There is a magazine (but of course) known as The Journal. And now there is also a brand-new arm in the form of Inigo, which specialises in historic houses (that’s several more weeks of our lives lost to scrolling, then). The team operates from a former ecclesiastical building in Southwark, London, which is as suitably and achingly stylish as one might expect.

As well as his editorial background, Matt has strong credentials for casting eyes over the best in design, thanks to his MA in History & Art History from Edinburgh. These days though, he leaves much of the day-to-day to others, and when not penning an article for an interiors mag or judging Dezeen Awards, he instead spends his time ‘proselytizing about the importance of good design within the home, writing books, commenting in the press and interviewing guests on The Modern House podcast.’ He lives with his wife Faye Toogood and their three children in a house that has featured in Vogue and the New York Times. His new book with Penguin Life, will be published in autumn 2021.

My favourite website...


Pistonheads for looking at old air-cooled Porsches that I can’t afford.



My favourite app...


Google Maps, OS Maps and Citymapper, which help me suss out the lie of the land. I also use OneNote to make lists.

My favourite blog...


Pretty much any football blog that provides made-up news about transfers that will never happen (writing this down makes me realise I need to do something about it).

My favourite podcast...


I could happily spend an afternoon in the bath listening to Desert Island Discs, especially the Kirsty Young episodes – her voice should be available on prescription as a relaxant.



My favourite YouTuber...


The strange bearded man who felt compelled to make a film in his garden about how to disassemble a twin buggy, which proved invaluable during a stressful moment at the departure gate at Heathrow last summer.

My most recent buy online...


A netball for my eight-year-old daughter. I’m trying to teach her to catch but it keeps hitting her in the face.

Last book you downloaded or read...


I have been re-reading Terence Conran’s Essential House Book. He was a genius.

Favourite Instagrammer...


I’m fascinated by the architect Tony Fretton. He posts the most mundane things – a bicycle saddle; some fish burgers from the supermarket; a stretch of freshly laid tarmac – and invariably it looks like he’s fallen over and taken the picture by accident. However, sometimes he unleashes a gem that makes me look at the world with a different perspective.



Favourite tech gadget...


My Suunto watch, for tracking runs and bike rides.

The most useful gadget/item on your desk...


I have a standing desk, because sitting is the new smoking, apparently.

Most useful digital resource during lockdown...


The Ocado app. My wife became the world’s leading expert in how to secure a weekly delivery slot during the first lockdown, so we were never short of lentils. Or toilet roll.

Most inspirational digital resource during lockdown...


The i-escape website, because it allowed me to daydream about brighter days ahead (their collection of child-friendly hotels and villas is brilliant).

First thing/app you look at on your mobile when you wake up/in the morning...


The Met Office weather app, to help me decide what I’m going to wear and what time I can go outside for a run.



Last thing you binge-watched...


The Undoing, mainly to see what Donald Sutherland’s eyebrows were going to do next.

Favourite brands have you discovered online...


Instagram advertising is annoyingly effective. The other day, I bought some workwear from Form & Thread like a mongrel gormlessly chasing a stick.

The best digital advice I've been given...


Turn off notifications, especially those distracting popups on your email.

My screensaver is...


The default screensaver, mainly due to apathy.



My standout online memory...


When we first launched The Modern House website back in 2005. It was exciting and slightly terrifying.

My pet online hate is...


People who spread negativity.

Do you have any online rules or resolutions?


Occasionally I resolve not to use my phone when the children are around, but it tends to last about ten minutes before something incredibly important crops up, like a software update or a customer satisfaction survey from BT.

The Internet. On balance, a force for good or ill?


Good.

By Nancy Alsop
February 2021

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