It was the perfect home for this young couple, and their rabbit It was the perfect home for this young couple, and their rabbit

BUYING a first home together is a consolidating and important step forward for any couple – not least for Ranvir Dhillon and his husband Manoj, who fell in love with a Weston Homes apartment at The Laundry Works in Watford.

Hotel night manager Ranvir, 34, and 39-year-old Manoj, a software engineer, are British born, with families from different parts of India. Ranvir, a Japanese speaker, Ranvir had been living in Japan but had returned to the UK when a mutual friend introduced him to Manoj, who was working at CitiBank in Canary Wharf. When Manoj was transferred to Belfast they went there together and were married in the Northern Ireland capital, in a joyful ceremony. They knew right away they wanted a place of their own – and their flower-woven wedding banner is now on display in their smart new Hertfordshire home.

‘Rents are crazy wherever you live, and you never feel settled with a landlord,’ says Ranvir. ‘Manoj had been looking for an apartment and surprised me one morning by insisting I went with him to look at The Laundry Works in Watford. In fact we looked at two apartments but the Weston Homes apartment was by far the best. ‘It had so many integrated appliances that we would have had to spend money on that we did not have. I fell in love with it. It was twice the size of our rented flat and it has a fantastic location.’

The Laundry Works offers luxurious one, two and three-bedroom apartments in architecturally inspired buildings within a wide, tree-lined boulevard, with landscaped podium gardens throughout. This is an area noted for its green spaces and decidedly village-like feel – but thanks to excellent connections to central London and beyond, locals can still be close to the buzz of city life.

Great transport links are a priority, explains Ranvir. ‘I run a big hotel in Kensington, as the night manager, and quick transport connections are important to me. From here I can walk 12 minutes to the station, I jump on the Metropolitan line and the whole journey is 40 minutes.

‘We like visiting India and if we want to go to the airport there is a local bus. You can get anywhere from here. Neither of us drives but we are close to everything. My favourite pub is a few minutes away and they do a great Sunday lunch!’

Ranvir is a devout Hindu and in their home the couple have a small shrine, which is a bright and lively statement to their faith. Its installation gave them a sense of place when they moved in with very little in the way of furnishings. ‘We sat on the floor until the sofa arrived,’ says Ranvir. ‘But there was so much comfort already with our fitted kitchen, luxurious bathrooms, fitted wardrobes and floors all down. We just had to put the heating on – not that we use much heating as our home is so well insulated.’

The buying process was surprisingly straightforward, adds Ranvir. Both he and Manoj are from families who instilled the importance of saving, so they had their £25k deposit and, using the government Help To Buy scheme that was available at the time, they got over the threshold. ‘It was just so easy, the staff in the sales office were wonderful, and it all moved along so quickly.’

Manoj and Ranvir both now save regularly to complete the job of furnishing their apartment. The curtains arrive in a few days’ time and they’ve got their eye on some smart cane furniture for their balcony, ‘so we can sit outside. Look! We have magnificent views and the sun sets in the corner of our sitting room.’

They are in a corner flat on the tenth floor with a vista of countryside beyond the thriving town. ‘There is so much open space around us, Cassiobury Park is a huge country park with fountains and flowers. I love flowers, and have plans for the balcony,’ Ranvir smiles. ‘The other day we walked miles along the canal path out into the country and caught the
train and bus home.’

There is just one more thing to add to make their life here complete… and that’s a rabbit. The couple are getting a Holland Lop, one of the smallest, calmest, lop-eared breeds, which will make a fantastic house pet. Its rabbit home awaits – a stylish glass enclosure near the kitchen with five-star facilities including bunny furniture, a teepee to sleep in and an array of toys, stuffed carrot included. Ranvir has an encyclopaedic knowledge of rabbits – but for the uninitiated, they are very intelligent, easy to train and will even walk out on a lead.

So, Mr or Ms Rabbit is arriving in the next few weeks and like its loving owners, will be taking up residence in the perfect new pad. Ranvir and Manoj will soon be coming through their door at The Laundry Works, calling out: ‘Bunny, we’re home!’

Photography by Juliet Murphy