Kirstie Allsopp: ‘You can’t house-hunt online. You have to see it in person’

Derelict House

The TV property guru on her technophobe co-presenter Phil Spencer, her love of Apple and why she likes to ‘microwave’ her hair curlers

Are you a gadget fiend or a technophobe?

I’m all about usefulness. I never think: “That piece of tech is beautiful, I want it,” but if it’s useful to me, I’ll happily fit it into my life.

How has technology changed your work?

Enormously. In property, it’s been a seismic change – not in a good way. Sure, it’s wonderful to be able to see every property on the market. However, you cannot search for a home online. You can contact agents, get details and floorplans, but houses are built of bricks and mortar. They have a physical feel, so you need to see them in person. Few people have an innate knowledge of size. Do you truly know how 12ft x 12ft feels? Use websites to research what’s available but don’t think you’re house-hunting by looking at properties online. Because you’re not.

Are you an Apple addict?

Yes, but not for designer reasons, more because it’s incredibly handy to link up all our devices. I have an iMac in the kitchen, an iPad Mini and an iPhone – although not the latest models. The fact that the diary goes through to my stepsons’ phones, their mother can see it, everyone in my office can see it … It’s revolutionary. I love iCal. It’s made juggling family life and business so much simpler.

How tech-savvy is your screen colleague Phil Spencer?

He has a paper diary; what more can I say? (Laughs.) He does my head in. Won’t engage with social media enough, won’t use iCal. We’re really fond of each other but it’s our main bone of contention. Phil’s a dinosaur.

Do you have meetings over Skype and Facetime?

No, but I should. I see families skyping each other all the time but not enough business meetings happen that way. Although I must confess, I do insist meetings are held at my house, so people come to me (laughs).

What was the first gadget you loved?

Remember the Palm Treo? I was an early adopter of email on phones. Swapping a keyboard for touchscreen was a big thing for me. It took me a long time to move over to iPhone. Then I got RSI in my hand from writing emails on my iPhone, so now I’ve got a Logitech Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad.

What’s you favourite gadget?

There’s three that I can’t pick between. The O by Cloud Nine, which heats up hair curlers in seconds. You drop them in and it sort of microwaves them. I bought it at my hairdressers. It was quite expensive and I was slightly shocked at myself but it’s absolutely brilliant. I have a tiny Panasonic projector that I bought on a BA flight, which is fab for taking on holiday and playing films off iPad. I also bought noise-cancelling headphones – the ones that make you want to cry, they’re so expensive – on a plane. In fact, every gadget I’ve ever bought out of an in-flight magazine has been great (laughs). Whoever curates them is clearly good.

Do you have flash gadgetry in the kitchen?

My fridge is from Fisher & Paykel. My other half said, “Over my dead body are we spending £3,000 on a fridge” so we bought it second-hand. I use my Vitamix blender daily. And I bloody love my boiling hot water tap. It’s properly brilliant. Saves so much time.

Do you have phone etiquette rules at home?

The golden rule is that nobody’s allowed a Wi-Fi-connected device in their bedroom. You’d never take your 10-year-old son to a Soho porn shop and say: “Pick what you want,” but if you let your children have open access to the internet, that’s what you’re doing. I don’t believe their Facebook and Instagram are private, either. They’re not diaries under your pillow. Employers look at your social media history – it might not be fair but it’s fact. The internet’s a wonderful new world, which has improved our lives immeasurably, but like every advance, it has dangers. It’s our responsibility as parents to be aware of them.

What are your favourite apps?

Money and travel ones: the BA app, UK Train Times and I genuinely love KiTTi, the money-sharing app I’m currently working with. So useful. I wish it had been around when I was organising girls’ weekends and group nights out.

What’s your most-used emoji?

The Christmas tree one – they’re an obsession of mine. And I adore that you can pick the colour of emojis now.

What gadget would you like to see invented?

A reinflating sofa. Press a button and a puff of air plumps all the cushions back up.

If you could time travel, where would you go?

To the time when my children are grandparents. I’d like to know that it’s all going to be OK. Just to double-check, then I’d come straight home again.

Powered by article was written by Michael Hogan, for The Observer on Sunday 8th November 2015 10.30 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010