Hiding things
Most people wait until the run up to moving day to start clearing out the belongings they don’t want to take to their new home. It’s our view that that process should begin the minute you think about putting your property on the market. Tidying up is usually the garnish word for “moving things around” or “putting things in piles” or “hiding things” which doesn’t really constitute tidying up at all, and isn’t particularly attractive. So here are some tips from us on how to do it right.

Get rid of your piles
Mountains of files, magazines, unopened post and household paperwork – no matter how neatly piled on top of each other – do not constitute tidying up: they need to go. Our experience is that most things in piles hang around for months or years, meaning they’re effectively obsolete. Just get rid of the lot in one go. Anything that really was that urgent will very likely come through the letterbox again. Just make sure to deal with it properly next time to avoid future pileups.

Stay out of sight
As well as making sure you’re not at home whenever your estate agent brings someone round to see your home, it’s also a good idea to remove any excess of ornamentation from the property. That doesn’t mean removing all personality from your home, but too many nick-nacks are overwhelming for buyers and are utter dust traps. If you have countless pictures of yourself grinning from out of frames dotted around shelves, fireplaces, bedside tables, sideboards, etc.) then we’d recommend a purge: they draw buyers’ attention away from your property.

Clean up your act
While your home is on the market, we strongly advise having it professionally cleaned every week. It really is a very sound investment. Unless you’re super human or super interested in domestic chores, we find that cleaners do a better job of making everything sparkle. They also tend not to miss the things we do our best to forget – dusting bookshelves, vacuuming behind the TV, etc. And get them to clean your windows at the start and then monthly thereafter – it really does make a huge difference.

Take away temptation
The easiest way of staying tidy is to have less stuff to tidy up. So rather than stuffing your cupboards with stuff, get rid of it. All the advice on de-cluttering and de-personalising makes the day-to-day job of keeping your home tidy much easier. The less you have, the less there is to tidy and the less mess you can make. Which means less work whenever you get a viewing.

Get over it
All this advice is simply to give you the best chance of getting your property sold. Don’t take it to heart you’re asked to remove some personal items. The job of your estate agent is multi-faceted and includes giving you the best advice they can on how to present your home to maximum effect, minimise wasted viewings and achieve the best possible price in the shortest possible time.

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Once upon a time, not so very long ago, people hunted for a home very differently. While their choice would certainly centre around their core criteria (number of rooms, overall size, access to work or schools, etc), the final decision would ultimately come down to a single defining question: do I like it?

Yes, we know it sounds crazy, but it really used to happen. People would actually base their decision to buy a property on whether or not they got a good feeling from it, and whether they thought they’d like to live there. At dinner parties everywhere, people would say: “It just felt right” and “We knew we wanted it the moment we walked in the door”. Madness.

Today, the picture is very different. Today it’s all about future market value, realising untapped potential and locating the next area to go big. It’s an interesting sign of the times that, when showing someone around a property, we rarely hear anyone exclaim the immortal words: “Oh my god, I love it.”

Perhaps it’s fear of being drawn into the evil estate agent’s web of skilled negotiation tactics and devilish mind control: keep your emotions hidden and you’ll be safe from their charms; avoid enthusiasm at all costs, or it’ll cost you; and don’t be fooled by their smiles and pleasantries… once they’ve got you in their claws, there’ll be no escape and you’ll end up – oh horror of horrors! – in a home you adore.

So what’s going on?

First, the rise and continued popularity of TV interiors programmes has heightened people’s awareness of design and had them realise that, in some instances, a property can be transformed with not a lot of work and lifted from a bit depressing, to really rather nice. That’s a good thing, particularly where busy people are concerned. The word “potential” used to be lost on city types because they were simply too busy to think about the idea of living in a building site and coming home to dust central after a very long day at work. So to demonstrate how a reasonably small effort can transform a property that is otherwise a perfect match is a wholly positive thing.

But it’s the change in affordability that’s had the most dramatic effect on the way people relate to property. Particularly in London, where really the only people who can afford to get themselves onto the property ladder are those earning good money in the city (whether legal, financial or otherwise), perhaps it’s no wonder that hardcore rational analysis has replaced feelings and emotions as the driving force behind decisions.

And we are in a time of mass information, and of mass information being the order of the day. Everyone is armed to the teeth with mass information. New train lines, future regeneration, infrastructure improvements, historic house prices and projected growth areas – often delivered with dramatic headlines and anxiety inducing predictions – all form part of a decision that, let’s be honest, is a really big deal.

None of this is wrong, and we’ve absolutely no objection to people getting maximum financial benefit from their property making decision. But we hope it’s not at the expense of one of the best feelings there is: the joy of moving in to a home you truly love.

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Fickle beasts that we are, our list of most-wanted living rooms changes almost with the wind – and certainly with our latest listings – but here’s a selection of our current favourites, two of which are available and two of which have gone. We’ve gone for variety, with lofts converted from a former library, college, workshop and factory. Read on, and enjoy!

 

Bolton Road, Willesden NW10
Bolton-Road
There’s something almost Parisian about this huge living room in Willesden. Converted from a Victorian warehouse behind a very unassuming façade, there really is little clue from the street elevation as to what lies beyond the front door. Normally with a warehouse or a factory you kinda know what you’re going to get, but this place is different. Triple width French doors lead out to the roof terrace and are accompanied by two sets of large casement windows and those double doors over in the corner leading to the rest of the accommodation add yet more to the European air. The rest of the accommodation includes 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 additional WCs, a kitchen/breakfast room, sauna and garage. £1,895,000

More details at: http://uniquepropertycompany.co.uk/property/end-of-terrace-house-3060690/

 

Cormont Road, Camberwell SE5
Cormont-Road
It’s that aged, rustic feeling that we love about this loft that reaches up into the eaves of a converted teaching college. “Timber festooned” is how we described it and we weren’t joking: not only are there chunky beams arching overhead, but the underside of the pitched roof has also been exposed adding a rarely seen quality. Obviously anything double height always feels at least a little bit special but this room does have a certain something that makes you want to spend time here. Metal trusses are strung between the walls and a high level bank of windows across an entire wall encourages light into the room from above. There’s also acres of brickwork, three double bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a mezzanine. £825,000

More details at: http://uniquepropertycompany.co.uk/property/flat-3575461/

 

Battersea High Street SW11
Battersea-High-Street
This one kinda screams ‘rockstar’! Three sets of floor-to-ceiling French windows accentuate the loftiness and lead out to a large patio and lawned rear garden. But it’s the pure whiteness of the space – not just walls and ceiling but also the white porcelain floor tiles – that delivers the almost heavenly atmosphere, while an extraordinary bespoke staircase by the designer Philip Watts evokes the lengthy backbone of a dinosaur:  timber open treads supported on a sculpted metal spine lead up to the mezzanine which holds a master bedroom that is nothing short of swanky, with an entire wall of mirrors behind the bed and an entire wall of concealed wardrobe space. There are plenty of curves too, softening the edges and lending a certain fluidity when moving from one zone to the next. GONE.

More details at: http://uniquepropertycompany.co.uk/property/apartment-240225/

 

New Inn Yard Shoreditch EC2
New-Inn-Yard
A pitched bank of slender panes forms a full width bank of glass across the entire north-facing wall, allowing extra light in from above and changing the fortunes of what is normally a dark and moody direction. In fact the whole feel of this open plan live/work Shoreditch penthouse is of light coming in from all angles, with big industrial windows running down the west and southern sides. This apartment harks back to before lofts hit the mainstream, with zero partitions between living area, kitchen/dining area and bedroom, merely simple zoning and a bit of hiding around corners. Challenging for some, perhaps, but a testament to how life doesn’t have to be a series of compartments and, with clever use of space, can offer a perfectly private environment. Absolutely lovely. But GONE.

More details at: http://uniquepropertycompany.co.uk/property/flat-238485/

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After a little while working on it and a lot of background research, we’ve now launched the London Loft Apartments website, a tribute to some of our favourite living spaces in the capital.
London-Loft-Apartments-Homepage

London has a rich and formidable collection of formerly commercial buildings that have leant themselves considerably well to a new urban lifestyle: from tannery to telephone exchange, orphanage to office and bath house to synagogue, these new-era living spaces turned the property market on its head and changed the way we live.

Divided into North, East, South and West London, the website aims to catalogue the very best of loft living in London. We see it as a working document that we’ll be continually adding to and editing.
London-Loft-Apartments-Lofts-in-East-London

Alongside the collection of converted schools, factories, warehouses that make up the foundation of London’s loft contingent, we’ve also included some of the most memorable one-off dwellings we’ve encountered along the Unique Property Company journey.

A former chapel, a rescued church tower and a repurposed stable block are just some of the extraordinary rarities we’ve seen; these are joined by a few choice newly built houses and apartments whose certain savoire faire elevates them from boring and boxy to lofty and lovely.

London-Loft-Apartments-The-Bath-House
Whether it’s a raw and gritty warehouse or a smooth and slick glass box, our love of loft apartments, lifestyle and indeed mentality knows no bounds. But what do you think? Do you have a favourite loft building you’d like us to include? Or do you live in one of our favourites and absolutely love it to death?

Enjoy the new website and do keep coming back for more!

www.londonloftapartments.co.uk

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It could be argued that, with the exception of boring boxy new builds stacked identically on top of each other, pretty much every home is unique. Might be the kitchen, or the bathroom, the built in wardrobes, the fireplace, perhaps the garden or, gasp, the wallpaper. If they’re not all present in their exact form in an identical property, then surely the one they are in is unique?

Most genuine lofts are unique; every one-off designed house is unique; and we can take it as read that any space converted from a former commercial, industrial or agricultural use into a stonking residential pad is very likely to be unique as well.
Bankside Lofts April 2016
But what about when people set about altering a standard Victorian terrace, or a 1930s semi, or even a 1960s townhouse? How much work would it take to push one of those beyond the confines of ‘modernised’ or ‘interesting’ and firmly into the territories of ‘unusual’ or ‘unique’?

We agree that a designer kitchen made especially for one particular home would deliver an exceptional attribute, but on its own it would not change the overall nature of the property. It is not particularly outlandish to replace a kitchen, to do some decorating, or jazz up the garden. Interesting yes, but not unusual or unique.

We’d be looking for more. A lot more.
Limehouse Cut April 2016
We’re talking about a serious investment of time, imagination and, most likely, cash: take out the floor between a living room and the bedroom above it to create a mezzanine and double-height void; remove all the walls between rooms and hallways to forge an entirely open-plan living zone; push the ground floor accommodation out into the garden by adding a futuristic glass cube; lose the ceiling between bedrooms and attics to deliver cavernous, cathedral-like spaces with wooden rafters and beams.

To be unusual or unique requires a radical transformation from the original qualities and envisaged use of a property into a wholly different animal; this is how people achieve extraordinary prices for what, on the outside, can seem like the most formulaic of homes. It’s one of the things that makes our particular marketplace so interesting; you really cannot tell how anything is going to look like on the inside, simply by looking at the outside. It’s always a complete surprise.
Battersea Park Road April 2016
And who doesn’t love those?

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