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OK, we asked for it. We set up shop as London’s first Loft specialist, handling only the most interesting and unusual spaces in the capital. It was bound to attract some ‘unusual’ people, but we had no idea how wide and varied our inbox would become. Here are 5 recent  examples of the Unique requests and requirements that come our way…

 

“Sculptor looking for anywhere in West or North London – needs a ground floor work space with access for sculptures up to 10ft high. Anything up to £4m”

 

“Contemporary Art dealer looking for a large apartment (or lateral house) with a large amount of (high) wall space to display some of his stock. He wants to work from home but have the feel of a home/gallery. Clerkenwell, Islington, Camden, Maida Vale, Shepherds Bush, Battersea, Vauxhall or Borough. Up to £3m”

 

“We are a young creative couple looking for an open-plan living space of about 1,000sq ft. Don’t need many walls, don’t mind condition, but would love an old warehouse or something similar. Anywhere in Zone 2 up to £900,000”

 

“Cognitive therapist hoping to find some kind of building I could run my practice from (need about 3 consulting rooms and a small waiting area and cloakroom) and then some living space and two bedrooms. Anywhere in London within 10 minutes walk of a tube. Happy to do work . Cash, no mortgage needed. Up to £1m”

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“Desperate for a genuine old warehouse conversion/loft apartment. Must have exposed brickwork and beams – outside space preferable but not essential, high ceilings, any condition and looking around South East or East London up to £800k” blenheim-ground-floor-open-plan1

 

The overriding them is, of course, space. Not location. We’ve proved it time and time again that ‘location, location, location’ is not all that matters. In fact, uniquely for us, it hardly matters at all.

 

 

 

 

 

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Wandsworth hipper than New York!” An arresting headline, n’est-ce pas? And dubious too, you might think. But for Tom & Ronnie – he something in the music biz, she embarking on her first documentary – The Big Apple is proving a bit fruitless when it comes to finding a groovy new pad as peachy as their current Wandsworth hideaway.

 

4 years ago, finding little solace in the local Victorian architecture, this creative and courageous couple decided to build their own home. Near Battersea Rise, they found an old architect’s practice – formerly a garage – and built something on the space that instantly joined London’s growing list of hidden treasures; an almost invisible house that, beyond its demure exterior, is home to three storeys of exciting modern loveliness.  upper-reception-2-small1

 

 

At its heart, a triple-height light well – glazed on three sides – plunges down through the middle of the building and fills it with brightness. But while the house is super sexy and ripe for entertaining, it was also designed to work for a household with teenagers; practicality sat as high on the list as the latest tricksy switchery, and neither are lacking. Alongside a large family kitchen stuffed with Gaggenau appliances – including, of course, a large wine fridge – there are Sonos audio and Lutron lighting systems jazzing up the spec no end.

 

A configuration of three bedrooms, three reception rooms, two study areas and two outside areas means there are plenty of places for everyone to go, and there’s off-street parking at the front for one car. If you’re more the Easy Rider type, you can even park your motorbike in the hall.

 

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Far out.

 

The house is available for £2,200 per week

 

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Picture this. It’s a warm & balmy summer’s night and you’re watching an open air screening of a classic Bette Davis flick. Everything is perfect; you’re with friends, there’s a glass of chilled Prosecco in one hand, a tasty nibble in the other. As the end credits roll, you stretch your bestest post-movie stretch, reflect on a wonderful evening, and go upstairs to bed. 51-new-development-reception1

 

Huh?

 

You may have noticed something missing in the text between film and bed, like, the journey home. Well, here’s the thing; there is no journey home – because this is 1 Prince of Wales Road NW5, one of our favourite apartment buildings in London.51-new-development-outside-small1

 

As well as the regular summer movie night, residents gather for barbecues in the courtyards. There’s even a vegetable garden, and next up are solar panels. While it’s a long way from a hippy commune, there is a palpable sense of community and ownership (they own the freehold) at this splendid transformation of the former North London Polytechnic building.  Converted in 1999 to designs by architects Allies & Morrison, it subsequently won a prestigious RIBA award, and beyond the significant glamour of the building’s exterior and reception hall are a series of beautifully realised modern lofts, with all the boxes thoroughly ticked.

 

Originally designed by the eminent architect W E Riley – the man behind Vauxhall Bridge and the wonderfully art-nouveau Euston Fire Station – the building had a right royal inauguration, with no less than HRH The Prince of Wales himself conducting the opening ceremony in 1929. The commemorating marble plaque still hangs in the foyer.

 

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We love everything about 1 Prince of Wales Road. The original architecture, the conversion to apartments, and the beauty of the design are all top notch. But it’s the overriding air of neighbourliness that we find most captivating. Live here, and you live not just a five-star luxury of life, but – quite literally – the life of Riley.

 

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The regular strong demand for summer short-lets has stepped up many a gear this year, with the culprit, of course, the Olympics. Anything east of Covent Garden is on the radar of the visiting masses; spectators, media companies, pr agencies and any other organisation covering the event, so we’ve been back in touch with the people who bought these wonderful spaces. Can they be persuaded to rent out their homes over the course of The Games, and take an extended holiday? Seemingly, yes they can.york-central-reception

 

So this has been a week of memories re-lived, and I’ve returned to a number of the unique spaces and lofts we’ve sold over the last 17 years. It’s been great catching up with so many people and their lives, and to see what changes they’ve made since moving in. I’ve been so inspired by so much that I’ve seen, that I’m tempted to rent one myself.

 

More nostalgia has come from a recent skimming through the famous ‘Lofts of London’ coffee-table book. Published by Tectum in 2001, it’s our very own bible and a rather definitive guide to the finest urban gems in this great city. The moments of reflection came from the uplifting discovery that, at some point since we opened for business, we’ve handled the marketing and/or sale of almost all of them.

 

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From one of London’s original loft buildings at York Central in Kings Cross, including the vast penthouse of Sir Clive Sinclair (who we secretly believe to have moved about his apartment on one of his infamous C5 ‘cars’), to one of the very few private homes designed by David Adjaye. The extraordinary minimalism of Mark Guard at The Village made a memorable trip to Battersea, as did a converted library owned by an antiques dealer; every piece of furniture was for sale and the interior changed so dramatically each week, that we had to send the photographer back 4 times to keep the imagery up to date. And then there’s the former bacon-treating factory in South East London, where a collection of smoking chambers were still in tact. Fortunately, the accompanying smell had long since gone.dining-area

 

Quintessential loft living comes, of course, with a view of the Thames. In the 1980s, Andrew Wadsworth – one of the original pioneers of loft living in London – set the pace with the conversion of New Concordia Wharf in Bermondsey, very close to Tower Bridge. The river now famously plays host to some of the very finest examples of warehouse apartments, not least of all the penthouse at Oliver’s Wharf in Wapping. This really is the pinnacle of the urban waterside lifestyle and is currently for sale (with us, of course) at £6.5m   

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Silagra

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I should be in East London. No really, I should. I’ve got an open day at some live-work units which are all being sold as ‘shell and core’, more often (and more simply) referred to as a ‘shell’: 4 walls, a front door, and not much else.  These really are the preserve of the East London set, but even there, new shell space over the last 4 years has been almost non-existent. In the West and South-west of London, it hasn’t been seen for around 15 years. In fact, shells are so hard to find, that you wonder whether setting out to find a choker of hen’s teeth hanging from Lord Lucan’s neck, might be an easier mission. So, with all this going on, it is not with just a little surprise that, (a) I have a new development of converted live-work shell spaces to sell, and (b) they’re Fulham.  9-upper-level-main-2-small

 

As you can imagine, this has created considerable excitement, and so far we’ve had about 30 viewings in total, bringing in people from almost every conceivable background and industry. Some you’d easily guess; architects, photographers, designers, musicians… So far, so blah. Others might raise a more curious eyebrow; a vet, a ventriloquist’s dummy designer (yes that’s right, a ventriloquist’s dummy designer; try saying that after a few too many), and someone looking to create – naturally – a Buddhist retreat.

 

On top of this, a bunch of more regular types that love the idea of a shell space, but somehow lose the message that “no kitchen” means, well, “no kitchen” and spend rather too long trying to look as though they’re still marginally interested. I guess it’s embarrassment that has them carry on this charade, but their blatant terror at facing the reality of a shell space really does give the game away. Just be honest: “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand the concept of  a live-work shell space, and I’m itching to get back to the safer confines of my Victorian conversion flat”. It’s really fine. We all have secrets.

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Anyway, to give some extra clarity over purchasing a shell space, here’s the deal. Because you’re NOT – I repeat, NOT – getting the usual deal of fitted bathroom and fitted kitchen (indeed, not even the western standards of wiring or plumbing), mortgage lenders aren’t going to give you so much of their money. So you’re going to need about 30-40% of the purchase price as your deposit (in ready money, although used notes are optional), and then of course the funds to fit the space out with those aforementioned luxuries. You can get a mortgage, and you can get a good rate, but you must fulfil the above criteria.

 

So, back to the viewings. I find it never endingly fascinating to watch people discuss and enthuse over how they’d stamp their mark on an empty space. However, first prize today must surely go straight to the sculptor. He wants to string up a hammock to “find his chi”, with just a toilet, shower and gas hob for company. 9-staircase-to-mezzanine-small

 

The things one does for one’s art.

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