Category Archives: Home + Garden

Interiors ideas, design inspiration, gorgeous gardens

Wedding flowers trends 2016 from Bloomologie

Did you know that a third of all proposals and engagements happen at Christmas? And given that next month is a leap year (get ready girls!), I thought a post about this year’s hottest wedding flower trends, might be handy…

 

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IN – Relaxed, wild, garden-gathered bouquets

Over the past few years there has been a shift away from the very stiff, formal bouquet of all one or two types of flower, towards something freer and more loose. The roundy-moundy dome bouquet of roses is dead. Instead it’s about a wilder look, that feels more romantic and mixes up foliage, wild flowers, even foraged branches, with heritage tea roses and old fashioned blowsy blooms, such as dahlias, zinnia, chrysanthemums (the proper, old fashioned ones), and vintage dianthus. these are the kind of flowers that you can’t buy in Sainsbury’s – they’re truly special and deserving of a place in a one-of-a-kind bouquet.

OUT – structured, dome-y bouquets of all one flower.

assymetric bouquet bloomologie BFA

IN – wide and asymmetric hand-tied bouquets

I’m not talking about the traditional wired shower bouquet or tear-drop here, but about something that is much more idiosyncratic. The look is unstructured and wild, but each bloom has been very carefully placed to create a horizontal bouquet rather than a round one. Some flowers “break out” from the bulk of bouquet for a very natural look. Ferns, trailing stems and twisted branches add to the asymmetric style, which at first glance looks like it has been scooped together, but that has actually taken a great deal of styling (much like the “no make-up, make-up look that takes longer to do than ordinary make-up).

OUT – wired shower bouquets and round hand-ties.

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IN – trailing ribbons v garden twine

In keeping with the loose, relaxed bouquet style that is so on-trend, long, romantic trailing ribbons, often more than one type, even sequins, are very popular. Alternatively, stems wrapped in natural garden twine or subtle ribbon that is short, exposing the natural stem ends are also replacing the traditional satin ribbon ‘handle’ style that covered the stems completely.

OUT – satin ribbon covering the stems completely and fixed with diamante or pearl pins.

IN – blush, peaches and cream

White and ivory is on the wain, as warmer blush, peach, apricot and cream shades are on the rise. These antique colours combine really well with dark burgundy or bright oranges to create a painterly palette of shades and tones with more depth and texture than white. I expect to see more coffee shades, from latte to mocha, coming through this year, too.

OUT – white and ivory

shower bouquet bloomologie 5

IN – Violet and purple

Brides who do choose colour are REALLY going for colour, looking for sumptuous jewel tones that can hold their own against metallic or beaded gowns – especially for bridesmaids where darker dresses are increasingly popular. Dark, almost black tulips, peonies, dahlias, hellebores and scabious are on the rise, as well as white or ivory hellebores and anenomes with deep-purple to black centres. This can give a classic bouquet a cool, modern edge.

Out – sugar-y sweet pastels.

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IN – The clash

Riotous shades of orange, yellow, pink, blue and purple – all in one vase, crate or urn – collide to create a look that’s eclectic and vibrant, but as colourful as the garden at Great Dixter. Not one for the fearless, this look is fun, bold and playful, which more brides are going for.

OUT – “theme” colours for a wedding.

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IN – Food

Yup, mini pineapples, grapes, cabbages (as shown above), globe artichokes, pumpkins – increasingly floral arrangements are becoming more like an artist’s still life that mixes up fruit, vegetables and flowers.

 

IN – garlands, groups, and mix-and-match arrangements

The classic “centrepiece” is out, and increasingly it’s more about a collection of mini vases and tea lights, a long garland with candles and some satellite arrangements dotted through it, or a mix of long, low arrangements and taller, bold statements. Why? Well, for a start the types of tables are changing with more long tables becoming a trend, but also it feels less formal and more modern to have clusters of flowers rather than one focal point, repeated.

OUT – the traditional table centre.

 

IN – Foliage and trees

Flower walls undoubtedly look ‘wow’ but unless you have the budget of the Kardashians, they’re not for everyone. And, dare I say it, it feels too “done” for me, too tight and twee. Instead, I’m seeing lots more trees to make dramatic statements (and you can hire them for the day), especially inside churches, as well as flower curtains (strings of hanging flowers), and foliage walls and arches, that have impact and interest – adding texture as well as colour.

OUT – flower walls

 

IN – Metallics

Gold and silver sequinned tablecloths, copper and brass vases and urns, metal lanterns and mercury class tea light holders. Metallics are a huge interiors trend that are filtering through to weddings, both as a glam look and also for a more eclectic take on vintage.

OUT – jam jars and Mason Ball – yes I really said that!

I’d love to know your thoughts – what am I missing? What would you add or change? I’m all ears…

Find our more at www.bloomologie.co.uk

Snowdrop spotting

For that first glimpse of spring, there’s nowhere better than the places cared for by the National Trust, which have beautiful displays of snowdrops across the country. The delicate white flowers transform woodland and garden floors in early spring and are one of the first signs of life after the winter months

Pleasure Ground Wood Chirk

Mike Calnan, Head of Gardens for the National Trust said, “Beautiful drifts of white snowdrops are one of the great pleasures of visiting gardens at the end of winter.  But look closely and you’ll soon discover variation among the carpet of white flowers. At Anglesey Abbey there are over 300 different snowdrop varieties growing in the garden. 

“Snowdrops are promiscuous plants, they cross-fertilise easily, producing new varieties.  The differences are very subtle and it’s always a challenge to spot them but this is what makes snowdrops so fascinating to collectors.”

From stunning bulb meadows to the UK’s largest winter garden, here are the special National Trust places to enjoy a family day out surrounded by snowdrops:

South West

 

Kingston Lacy, Dorset

Snowdrops, 1 – 29 February, 10am – 4pm

Kingston Lacy welcomes a dazzling blanket of snowdrops each year. The garden wakes up to spring in January and February when thousands of flowers burst through the soil, transforming areas of the garden into a sea of white. Special snowdrop openings have long been a tradition at Kingston Lacy so visitors can wander through the displays and salute this first welcome sign of spring. Keep an eye out for the estate’s fine herd of Red Ruby Devon cattle and explore the Japanese Garden which is sure to look even better with a dusting of frost.

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

For more information please call 01202 883402

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kingston-lacy

Make a weekend of it: With pink walls and a thatched roof, 524 Pamphill Green Cottage is a delightful semi-detached cottage tucked away in a quiet part of the Kingston Lacy estate.

Newark Park, Gloucestershire                   

Snowdrops Season, 13 – 15, 17 – 22, 24 – 29 February, 11am – 4pm

At Newark Park there are snowdrop drifts throughout the garden and they mingle with aconites and cyclamen to give an impressive show. Grab your walking boots and a camera and head to Newark where the carpets of snowdrops provide dazzling photo opportunities. Afterwards, warm up with a hot drink and well-deserved slice of cake in front of the fire in the Tudor sitting room.

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 01453 842644

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/newark-park

 Kingston Lacey

Saltram, Devon

A walk amongst the snowdrops, 4 – 31 January, 10am – 4pm

Standing high above the River Plym with magnificent views across the estuary, Saltram’s 500 acres of rolling parkland and woodland provide the perfect setting for a stunning snowdrop display. As the snowdrops frame the pathways take a stroll and explore the tranquil garden, 18th-century orangery and magnificent lime avenue. Return in February to plant a snowdrop with the garden team.

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

For more information please call 01752 333500

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/saltram

London and South East

Mottisfont, Hampshire

Open daily, 10am – 5pm

Snowdrops thrive along the banks of the Font stream, where the warming effects of the water creates its own microclimate, teasing them into bloom a week or two before their companions in colder corners of the garden. Elsewhere, the open acres of the river garden are magically transformed by drifts of purest white.

Price: Garden admission charges apply

For more information please call 01794 340757

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont

 

Nymans, West Sussex

Open daily, 10am – 4pm

This 20th-century garden is famed for its amazing collection of rare and important plants. At the start of spring, spot wonderful displays of snowdrops followed by camellias and magnolias underplanted with a host of daffodils and grape hyacinths. The bulb meadow in the walled garden is full of snowdrops and early narcissus and there are rare hellebores all around the garden. By Valentine’s Day, over 150 different types of plant are flowering at Nymans and the snowdrop drifts offer cool contrasts to fiery witch hazel oranges and the rich red stems of dogwoods.

Price: Garden admission charges apply

For more information please call 01444 405250.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/nymans

Make a weekend of it: For people who love being close to nature, a stay at Woodlands Cottage is a great way to discover Nymans. The perfect retreat, the pretty cottage is surrounded by beautiful lakes and woodland walks.

Stowe, Buckinghamshire

Open daily, 10am – 4pm (from 13 February onwards 10am – 6pm)

Snowdrops are so cherished at Stowe that they even have their own season. The beginning of the year is ‘Stowedrop’ time as the delicate peeping blooms develop into white drifts in the Elysian Fields, Sleeping Wood and Lamport Garden. Take a walk amongst the snowdrops in this magical landscape of myths, lakes and temples.

Price: Garden admission charges apply

For information please call 01280 817156

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stowe

East of England

 

Anglesey Abbey, Gardens & Lode Mill, Cambridgeshire

Snowdrop Season: 25 January – 28 February

Anglesey’s garden has over 300 different varieties of snowdrop scattered across 114 acres. Meander through the paths and soak up the fabulous show that the garden offers during this time. But snowdrops won’t be all that you see: the Winter Garden packed with vibrant colours, textures and the heady scent of winter flowering shrubs can brighten-up the darkest of winter days.

Price: Garden admission charges apply

For more information please call 01223810080

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/anglesey-abbey

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Ickworth, Suffolk

Open daily, 9am – 5.30pm

Throughout Ickworth Park, along the oak walk and the trim trail, snowdrops are complemented by the golden glow of aconites. Geraldine’s and Erskine’s walks are woken from their winter sleep by Galanthus ‘S Arnott, a relatively large snowdrop with a strong honey scent providing a feast for the senses. Discover amazing views of the estate or warm up in the West Wing restaurant with delicious food and drink (Friday to Tuesday).

Price: Free event (garden admission charges apply)

For more information please call 01284 735270.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ickworth

Make a weekend of it: Stay at the heart of the estate in one of Ickworth’s four cottages: there’s the quirky round house set in an enchanting woodland glade, two redbrick Victorian cottages in the parkland and the former head gardener’s cottage with its own walled garden.

 

Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk

Snowdrop Walks, 30 January – 16 March, 11.30am and 2pm

Feast your eyes on the stunning sights of Oxburgh, a huge moated Hall surrounded by 70 acres of gardens and woodlands. Join the team for a guided walk, or wander independently around the woodlands and take in the stunning carpets of snowdrops, aconites and other spring flowers.

Price: Garden admission charges apply

For more information please call 01366 328258

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/oxburgh-hall

 

Midlands

 

Attingham Park, Shropshire

Open daily, 8am – 5pm

Watch the woodland floor transform into a stunning carpet of snowdrops during Attingham’s snowdrop season. Take a stroll around this grand estate and discover over 200 years of history, acres of parkland and a beautiful walled garden. Keep an eye out for deer as you go.

Price: Normal admission charges apply

For more information please call 01743 708123

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/attingham-park

Belton House, Lincolnshire

Open daily, 9.30am – 4pm

With delightful gardens and lakeside walks, Belton is a pleasure to explore all year round and never more so as the early signs of spring creep in. Don’t miss the delicate displays of snowdrops that melt away all your thoughts of winter.

Price: Normal admission charges apply

For more information please call 01476 566116

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/belton-house

 

Baddesley Clinton, Warwickshire

Open daily, 9am – 4pm (from 13 February onwards 9am – 5pm)

Baddesley Clinton’s intimate gardens feel like a personal winter wonderland during the colder months. In January and February the snowdrops will be out in full bloom, both in the gardens and around the church. Enjoy a gentle stroll around the gardens and lake, and discover some of the estate’s late medieval and Tudor history along the way.

Price: Normal admission charges apply

For more information please call 01564 783294

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/baddesley-clinton

 

North West

 Dunham Massey

Dunham Massey, Cheshire

Open daily, 11am – 4pm
Throughout January and February, thousands of snowdrops will bloom in Britain’s largest winter garden at Dunham Massey. The garden contains almost 700 different plant species and a further 1,600 shrubs specifically bred for the seven-acre wonder. January heralds the first signs of spring, where clusters of over 100,000 double and single snowdrops and 20,000 narcissi begin to bloom amongst the trees.

Garden admission charges apply.

For more information, please call 0161 941 1025

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunham-massey

Yorkshire and North East

 

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, Yorkshire

Open 10am – 5pm
Set in 323 hectares of beautiful countryside, this World Heritage Site offers an unparalleled opportunity to appreciate Britain’s heritage and natural beauty. Early spring is the perfect time to explore the picturesque Abbey ruins and amble through the beautiful Georgian water garden, surrounded by white carpets of snowdrops. This is a stunning sight that dates back to the 19th-century, when Earl de Grey planted snowdrops to spell out his name along the backs of the river Skell.
Normal admission charges apply.

For more information please call 01765 608888

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/fountains-abbey

Make a weekend of it: Turn a visit to this magnificent site into a long weekend in a unique cottage. With eleven holiday cottages on offer, including apartments in the luxurious Fountains Hall and five cottages converted from a group of 18th-century farm buildings, there’s something for everyone.

Wallington, Northumberland

Open daily 10am – 6pm

As well as the common variety, Wallington’s snowdrop display includes a few specials. The less common varieties include the Northumbrian G. ‘Sandersii’ group which has sulphur yellow markings instead of green, and the pretty G. ‘Flore Pleno’ with double flowers. Don’t forget to visit the winter garden where purple Iris will brighten up any winter day.

Normal admission charges apply

For more information please call 01670 773600

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wallington

 

Wales

 

Chirk Castle, Wrexham

Open 30 January onwards, 10am – 4pm
Chase away those winter blues with a bracing walk around the beautiful gardens and woodland at Chirk. Glimpses of snowdrops can be found throughout the garden, scattered between clipped yews, shrub and rock gardens, as well as drifting along the woodland floor.

Normal admission charges apply

For more information please call 01691 777701

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chirk-castle

 

 

Northern Ireland

 

The Argory, Co. Armagh

Snowdrop walks, 6 – 7, 13 – 14, 20 – 21, 27 – 28 February, 12pm – 5pm

This spectacular riverside estate has a stunning display of snowdrops and other beautiful spring bulbs throughout February. Snowdrop self-guided walks run every Saturday and Sunday in the month, where the scenic walk shows off the garden as the frost thaws, with a stunning backdrop of sweeping vistas. There are also delicate snowdrop plants available to buy in the shop and children can enjoy the adventure playground.

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

For more information, please call 028 8778 4753

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/argory

 Snowdrop walk at The Argory Bernie Brown

Springhill, County Londonderry

Snowdrop walks, 6 – 7, 13 – 14, 20 – 21, 27 – 28 February, 12pm – 5pm

Explore the grounds of this beautiful 17th-century family home where blooms of snowdrops welcome in the springtime. Short walks around the estate are perfect for a leisurely stroll, and kids will be kept busy by the Natural Play Trail. Afterwards, enjoy some hot soup or a delicious tea and scone in the Servants’ Hall tea-room and take home your very own snowdrop plant, lovingly cultivated at Springhill.

Price: Free event (normal admission charges apply)

For more information please call 028 8674 8210

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/springhill

To plan a family day out with the National Trust visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk

To book a holiday cottage visit: www.nationaltrustcottages.co.uk

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Property trends 2016

Last year’s housing market was shaped by optimism – house prices rose by 5.6 per cent nationally (10.6 in London), and above the 2007 peak for the first time, to reach new record levels (£186,350 nationally, and £503,431 in London), encouraging developers to build more homes and councils to approve record levels of new developments.

 

Helios Top View

But it was also one of despair for many, as record numbers of potential buyers and middle-class families gave up on their dream of owning a home. New research from the Bank of England revealed that half of families who don’t own a home never think that they will – that’s some 4.5million households. The rate of home ownership has fallen from 73 per cent in 2007 to 65 per cent today.

And next year? Recognising the crisis, the government used its Autumn Statement to announce a raft of new measures to try and increase the amount of new homes being built, and to help first-time buyers even more. But the pressure on supply is still likely to keep pushing up prices – at least until interest rates start to rise and push up mortgage costs, which is predicted to happen by the end of the year. So if you have a home, sort out your five-year fixed-rate deal now, and if you’re thinking of buying, get in before those rates rise.

New hot spots to watch out for

Agents are tipping Victoria as a new ‘prime’ location thanks to its proximity to landmarks like Buckingham Palace.

Likewise, The Lancasters in Bayswater redefined W2, doubling values achieved north of Hyde Park for the first time in 2015.

“At the moment, a similar sort of thing is happening in Marylebone with The Chilterns development – upcoming luxury schemes in Nine Elms and Liverpool Street look set to have the same effect in other parts of the capital,” says Charlie Willis, Head of London Residential at Strutt & Parker

Other areas of growth will be in Fitzrovia and Kings Cross ,which are rapidly changing out of all recognition, tips Andrew Ellinas, Director at Sandfords.

“In terms of potential hotspots for 2016, we predict that outer London areas will continue to rise more rapidly than prime markets as buyers continue to look for value and investors for better yields. Areas such as East London, Canary Wharf, Camden, Islington, and new markets like Croydon will all outperform prime. Additionally, overlooked parts of the capital, such as Tooting and Streatham in south London, are expected to become more popular,” suggests Camilla Dell, Managing Partner at property buying agency, Black Brick.

Last year Walthan Forest and Lewisham were London’s best performing boroughs for rising prices, because they were comparatively so affordable to start with – we expect first-time buyers to continue to look further out in zones three and four for better value, as well as areas on the edge of zone one that offer better value, such as Elephant and Castle, Vauxhall, and Pimlico.

The Crossrail effect will also start to kick in – places you’ve never heard of, like Shenfield and Abbey Wood, will suddenly be worth considering once the high-speed rail connection becomes a reality.

 

Developments to watch for 2016

 

The Stage – A new Shakespeare museum, his original theatre dug our from the mud, and new homes and the first designer shops in Shoreditch, this development will mark Shoreditch’s coming of age.

 Dusk View

Television Centre – Stanhope’s development of the iconic BBC Television Centre in White City will launch in April 2016, reviving a huge area of west London.

 

Chelsea Barracks – the first phase of this long-awaited £3billion super-prime development on Chelsea Bridge Road launches this year, with apartments and a café designed by Squire and Partners.

 

Old Oak Park – if you’ve ever been to Car Giant in London, you’ll know it’s vast. Now try to picture it without all of the cars… The canalside site will be transformed into hundreds of new homes, restaurants, shops and even a new tube station, with Crossrail nearby.

 

Chelsea Waterfont – this vast new development centred around a Victorian power station will link up the hinterland between the Kings Road and Chelsea Wharf and includes residential, retail, restaurants and new parks.

 

Greenwich Peninsula – There’s been plenty of hype about Nine Elms, but not much chatter about Greenwich Peninsula, which will offer almost as many homes (15,000), waterfront bars, restaurants and shops, and a mini Southbank for south-east London, all just one tube stop from Canary Wharf.

Chelsea Waterfront CGI

GOING UP

Mortgage rates – the Fed has put up the interest rate in the US for the first time since the crisis, will the Bank of England follow suit? We think so.

House prices – in 2015 average house prices in London broke through the £500,000 barrier for the first time. We can’t see demand fading, although prices are reaching unsustainable levels, which will reduce the amount of potential buyers, causing the rate of growth to slow – especially if interest rates rise.

The study – thanks to the internet more of us are working from home, so a dedicated work space is now a must, developers are only just waking up to the fact that everyone has a computer, printer and scanner, and we need a space for them.

First-time buyers – The government has introduced even more new measures to try and help new buyers into the ladder – a 20 per cent discount for first-timers buying below £450,000 in London; doubling the value of Help to Buy to a 40 per cent equity loan in the capital; increasing shared ownership, and a new Help to Buy ISA, plus and increase in the amount of 95 per cent mortgages will all help to get more new buyers into their own homes this year. 

Garden and outdoor rooms – Any outdoor space is a precious commodity and more of us are turning our gardens into “outdoor rooms” with elaborate kitchens and furniture, and installing posh sheds and studios to extend our homes outwards without the cost of moving or building an extension.

Rented, reinvented – The PRS – or private rental sector – is one of the fastest growing new-build areas as developers realize that young people who cannot buy will pay for quality, new-build, long-term rental properties. The developer not only gets the capital gain of the property, but a steady rental income, while tenants can expect a higher standard and quality of contract, including integrated broadband and Sky TV, longer tenancies, and concierges to manage buildings, maintenance and collect those ASOS packages while you’re out.

Broken plan – think nooks for teenagers to sit with their iPads in, while the rest of the family watch TV, and break-out spaces for toys or work.

Swimming pools – going up in every sense! Swimming at altitude looks set to become a new London trend with rooftop pools, panoramic 24th floor pools, and even a suspended swimming pool bridge all being built into new schemes.

 

GOING DOWN

The dining room – admit it, in real life you eat your supper on your lap watching Masterchef.

Open plan – so you really want to eat curry in the same room as you dry your washing or to try and focus on work at the table while your other half watches the footy?

Buy to let – new rules on stamp duty and tax relief from George Osborne have been designed to make it less appealing, which could be good news for first-time buyers, who are often beaten to affordable homes buy investors.

Grey – There’s a certain developer look to new build homes – gloss kitchens, grey walls, white bathrooms and metro tiles – that’s getting a bit tired. Buyer are bored of bland and searching for something more personal and localised, expect a rise of British interiors, craftsmanship, and homes and interiors inspired by their surroundings and the history of the site or area.

Technology – super whizzy, remote-controlled properties that are all bling and completely confusing are seeing a backlash from buyers, who’d rather install their own tech systems or enjoy a more simplified home. Too many switches and controls add up to high maintenance and ‘messy’ walls cluttered with control panels.

Luxury buyers – almost all agents agree that the top of the housing market could falter in 2016 as new changes to stamp duty will make people think twice about buying in the £2-5million bracket.

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 13.23.38

 

ALISON TYLER

 

 

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Flowers everywhere!

It’s officially autumn, which means my brain is already thinking about Christmas! No, I’m not one of those super-humans who has all their shopping and wrapping done by Halloween – I make Christmas wreaths and sell them locally.

So the arrival of autumn is my queue to start squirrelling up pinecones, rose hips and honesty seedheads; to book stalls and markets and start ordering wire, metal frames and dried oranges and cinnamon sticks.

This year I’ve decided to run workshops so that locals can come and learn to make their own bespoke design.

My autumnal centrepiece, made at Judith Blacklock Flower School
My autumnal centrepiece, made at Judith Blacklock Flower School

And it’s got me so excited that I’ve started swotting up my skills across the floristry board. Yesterday I began a Floristry for Business course at the Judith Blacklock Flower School in Knightsbridge, and it is heaven.

A buttonhole comprising Rosa vendella, Sedum spectabile and Hedera
A buttonhole comprising Rosa vendella, Sedum spectabile and Hedera

I’m surrounded by bucket-loads of flowers every day and get to while away the hours working on my wiring and arranging skills; creating wedding corsages, buttonholes and garlands; styling an autumnal table centrepiece and designing a contemporary linear arrangement for a banqueting table. And that’s just in the first two days.

A corsage of Rosa snowflake, gypsophila and Eucalyptus
A corsage of Rosa snowflake, gypsophila and Eucalyptus

I can’t wait to see what I make next…

A linear display for a banquet - not quite finished at this point!
A linear display for a banquet – not quite finished at this point!

5 Hot Ikea hacks

No one likes to admit they go to Ikea for their furniture, even though we all do. Now, savvy shoppers are pimping their Ikea pieces to create bespoke designs at bargain prices

There’s no need to be embarrassed about buying furnishing your flat from Ikea – no one need ever know with these clever Ikea hacks that will transform the identikit items into unique, hand-crafted furniture. There are even entire websites and companies dedicated to transforming Ikea basics into brilliant bespoke furniture for a fraction of the cost. In fact, even the Swedish giant is now encouraging shoppers to customise their kit with specialist wood paints, fabric, paper and new handles. Try these hacks out for size..

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Personalise with a fine pine canvas
Ikea is famous for its wooden furniture, especially solid pine, which is easy to paint, stain, collage and customise. The Tarva range of untreated pine drawers have been deliberately designed to be a blank canvas.
“Both the simple design and the untreated wood are typical for the Scandinavian furniture tradition,” say designers Knut Hagberg and Marianne Hagberg. “And because you can stain or paint TARVA without further treatment, the design becomes a collaboration between us and the person who decorates it”.
Here the Tarva six drawer chest, £125, has been painted with Ikea’s own Behandla glazing paint, 375ml, £4.20, which comes in a range of colours.

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Updated door handles

This Malm chest of drawers (£49) is an Ikea staple, but add some handles and it takes on a fresh new look.

Take a selection of stones – the ones here are flint and chalk (which already had natural holes in it – that are between five and 10 centimetres in size. Glue around the middle of the stone with a glue gun, wrap twine or rattan cord twice around the glue and leave a good length of twine at either end to attach them to the drawers. Thread twine through the holes in the chalk stones.

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Decide where you want to put your handles and drill two holes for each handle, 2cm apart.

Then thread the ends of each cord from your handles through the holes and tie them together on the inside of the drawer.

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Relax in a reading nook

Take three Ikea Lack side tables (£25 each) and put them together to create a bench, then measure the top to work out what size your seating pad should be – leave some space at the end if you want a surface to put down a cup of tea or books.

Cut a piece of foam to fit the bench, then choose your covering fabric and cut it out with and extra 5cm in length and width than you need. Fold the fabric in half, right side in, and sew the length and one of the short sides, leaving 1cm seam allowance. Turn the cover the right side out and cover the foam, then fold the corners of the open end and stitch it closed. Then place it on the bench and accessorize it with books, cushions, and a tray. See how to do it at www.hestershandmadehome.com

IKEA belt shelf 1

A hanging book shelf

This on-trend leather and wood shelf looks reassuringly expensive, but blogger Ronja Lotte made it for just a couple of pounds. Using and Ivar (£4) shelf board (which she cut down to her desired size) and an old leather belt, the whole thing cost less than the price of a book.

First saw the shelf down to the size you want (cutting off the ends to create a neat edge), then paint the shelf. If you have two identical belts to hang at either end you’ll get the best finish, but you can also cut one wide belt in half. Cut or drill a hole at each end of the belt, about 4cm from the end, then hang it from the wall. Find her project and others on www.ikeahackers.net

ikea+hack+web

Create a four-poster bed

Serial hacker, Hester Van Overbeek’s latest book Furniture Hacks (£14.99, Cico Books) features this striking contemporary four-poster bed with an integrated shelf and storage, which looks as though it could have cost ten times the £165 price tag of the original Malm double bed that it is made from.

It’s a bit more of a DIY project as you’ll need to build the four upright posts and top beams, but it only costs a few pounds for the wood and paint (it’s worth painting the existing bed and the new posts so that it all matches) and a bit of elbow grease.

For the full lowdown visit Hester’s blog.

3 Instant Ikea Hacks

Don’t like DIY? Then get a professional to do it for you…

Superfront

Swedish design experts who take Ikea kitchens and cabinets and customise the colour, doors, tops, legs and handles, to create spectacular furniture that is still cheaper than buying bespoke. www.superfront.com

Pretty Pegs

It’s amazing what a difference small details can make. These replaceable wooden furniture legs add instant personality and panache to your regular Ikea sofa, bed, table or sideboard. www.prettypegs.com

 Mykea

These graphic and photographic patterns stick onto Ikea furniture to create a completely different look, that’s easy to create and to change when you get bored. www.thisismykea.com

ALISON TYLER

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 23.14.29

 

 

 

 

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Outdoor kitchens? Smoking!

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 23.37.33Eating outside is one of the best things about summer – if it’s ever warm enough – but increasingly, now it’s also about cooking outside, too. Hot on the heels of the “outdoor room” with its lounge-style furniture, outdoor cushions and twinkling lanterns, comes the outdoor kitchen – not just a barbecue, but stoves, grills, ovens and even sinks, all specifically designed for your garden. Maybe global warming isn’t all bad, after all?

Waters-Cooking-Station-Lynx-Grill-UNI-Estate-Wall-Granite-Colour-Granite-Counter-Top-7

California Grill
It’s no surprise that Orange County is the spiritual home of al fresco eating, with its year-round warmth. California brand Lynx design bespoke outdoor kitchens tat include five different sized grills, burners, griddle plates, smoker boxes and warming drawers, as well as cocktail stations (of course!), outdoor fridges and ice machines, and worktops, tailored to your space and lifestyle.
The original California Grill, that Lynx has been producing for 30 years, offers professional cooking and grilling for your garden.
Prices from £2860, 01275 343 000, www.lynx-grills.co.uk

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 23.46.42Morso outdoor fireplace
Combining Danish design with clean, cast-iron lines, this stylish outdoor stove is sure to be a crowd-pleaser at al fresco dinner parties. It functions both as a warming outdoor fireplace and also as an outdoor Tuscan Grill for perfect barbecued food. The fire itself can be turned according to the wind direction, while the tall chimney means your clothes won’t smell of camp-fire smoke in the way that fire pits do.
Morso Kamino fire £999 and Tuscan grill £90, www.morsoliving.co.uk

esse-fire-stone-optional-side-shelves-and-stand-450x450Esse Fire Stone
This British-made, steel, cast-iron and brick, wood-fired oven is a heavy-duty piece of kit, cooking at temperatures up to 550c, but it also looks good enough to adorn even the most glamorous patio or deck. It cooks pizzas in just two minutes, but you can also use it for baking, roasting, braising and char-grilling.
In fact, Esse – who have been making stoves since 1854 – asked two Michelin-starred chefs and River Cottage’s Gill Meller to test it out before they launched, so there’s no excuse for burning the burgers. £1800, www.esse.com

Perfect Garden Private View Event, The Manor House, Ayot St Lawrence.

Gaze Burvill
After years of clients asking for bespoke outdoor kitchens, Gaze Burvill launched its modular A la Carte kitchen range two years ago, and sales are soaring, despite a starting price of more than £2,000. Four different cabinets contain a sink, Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances (a favourite oven with top chefs, including Aldo Zilli), a fridge and a warming drawer – which, as all Bake Off fans will know, is essential for proving your bread dough. www.gazeburvill.com

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 23.52.48Morso Forno
This futuristic outdoor oven is a thing of Scandinavian beauty – and it cooks a mean supper, too. Inside, the wide, low-ceilinged oven is shaped like an Italian stone oven and has plenty of space to push the firewood aside when it comes to cooking.
On the stone you can bake bread, pizza or slow-cook joints of meat. Add the Tuscan Grill into the oven and you can chargrill steaks and veggies.
Morso forno, £1,620 (small £895), www.woodburners.co.uk

Outdoor-GrillBig Green Egg
Yes, it looks like a huge hand grenade but this dome-lidded clay oven is actually a kamado – a Japanese stove where you can cook on direct heat, or indirectly using the deflector. You can also adjust the heat from 400c to 100c by releasing heat through a vent in the lid.
Think of it as an outdoor Aga, perfect for slow-cooking and roasting, but also for searing and crisping pizzas – serious al fresco chefs will love it.
From £750, www.johnlewis.com

Outdoor-Kitchen-cassandra2Fire Magic
Create a fully-designed outdoor kitchen around seriously smart barbecues, incorporating sinks, fridges, grills, ovens and worktops – they can even build an enclosure around it to compensate for the British summer.
The stainless steel, American-made Aurora A430 barbecue (it feels demeaning to even call it a barbecue) comes with four burners, a rotisserie kit and a back burner as well as a built-in digital thermometer, and can be built into an outdoor kitchen from £2,999. www.fire-magic.co.uk
2013_10_10_21_41_02_14Smoker_360x310

Weber Smokey Mountain
Want to create authentic pulled pork or smokey southern-style ribs? Then you’ll need a smoker, aka the hipster bbq, which adds more flavour to a traditional barbecue and cooks red meat, chicken and fish low and slow for juicy meat that falls off the bone, and it can also be used for hot smoking.
From £299, www.weberbbq.co.uk

original_eco-grill-all-natural-bbq-and-campfire

EcoGrill
The EcoGrill All Natural Barbecue by Eco Consumer Products is made from sustainably sourced, hollowed-out alder, and is designed to prolong the burning time of the charcoal. The disposable barbecue and fire pit burns away to nothing, leaving no waste.
£10, www.eco-consumer-products.co.uk

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 23.29.35

This article first appeared in Metro on 4 August.

ALISON TYLER

 

 

 In praise of church conversions

 

Church conversions offer heavenly architectural features, soaring heights and quirky contemporary living spaces – usually at the heart of a community

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.58.07

It’s not just buyers that love a church conversion, for developers they are a dream project, the chance to create a landmark residence, with unique living spaces. But taking on the double-height windows, crumbling spires, and leaking lead roofs is not a job for the feint-hearted, and it takes an experienced architect to sensitively configure the space. There is little more depressing than a badly converted church. Get it right though, and the results are remarkable.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.59.19

The 19th-century Saint Paul’s Church in Battersea was in a sorry state when developer Nick Laurence spotted it in 2013, but given the how rarely they come to market he jumped at the chance to buy it. “I was captivated by its potential and I could see that we could retain the church’s originality and ecclesiastical architecture, yet make intelligent adaptations to the existing structure and layout,” explains Laurence.

Today, the outside of the church looks much the same, although there’s a new roof that Laurence’s team travelled the country to source and completely reconditioned stained glass windows – but inside it has been divided in to four completely bespoke apartments across three new floors, the Apse, the Cloister, the Spire and the Tower.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.59.05

 

Throughout, the renovation has been as sympathetic as possible. “The church brought with it an innate sense of calm and a sanctuary away from London’s fast pace, so we sought to perpetuate that with the most natural materials that would complement rather than juxtapose the original edifice,” says Laurence. “We worked closely with our interior designer, Sarah Reed, to identify and retain as much of the church’s identity as possible.”

The three-bedroom Apse apartment is framed by double-height stained glass windows, while open plan living, dining and kitchen areas offer contemporary counterpoint. Any additions that have been made are based on century’s old stonework and hues, with tactile surfaces finished in oak, limestone, marble, linen and velvet to reflect the church’s timeless feel.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.58.33

“The Apse is a great example of how we’ve expanded on the existing structure with a new staircase, conceived to resemble a pulpit, with a thick rope bannister to evoke the ropes that ring church bells. We even handmade Gothic style arched doors.”

A mezzanine floor, complete with a library built into a huge arch that was the former altar, overlooks the living area and also harbours a hidden door in the library wall that leads to the jewel in the crown of the apartment: a 550-square-foot master bedroom suite.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.58.42

But it’s the Spire apartment, that includes the church bell tower, where the renovation of this project really comes to life. Laurence has turned it into a folly within the apartment – it is breathtaking, and offers its lucky owner panoramic views of the city. While some would have dismissed it as an unworkable space, Laurence has installed a viewing platform, which is wired for sound and illuminated by a five-metre-long, hand blown glass chandelier.

“We had a team of 12 joiners on site constructing a specially made wooden spiral staircase to provide access to this stunning space,” he explains.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.59.39

“Even after being on site for 18 months – at times with a team of 40 experts, overcoming obstacles and working with the challenges of a 160 year old church – I still find the building utterly compelling,” says Laurence. “Every visitor is awestruck.”

It’s rare to find such a well-restored and sensitively converted church, especially one that was formerly in such a state of disrepair – perhaps of this derelict building it was a case of divine intervention.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.58.20

The apartments at The Sanctuary are on the market from £1,650,000. Douglas & Gordon’s Battersea office on 020 7924 2000 or Winkworth’s Battersea office on 020 7228 9265.

Divine inspiration, three more ecclesiastical conversions:

St Joseph’s Gate, Mill Hill

Throughout the design and transformation of this Grade II-listed seminary, set in seven acres of grounds, the developer Berkeley has retained a host of original features, including the ornate Victorian staircases, imposing, feature windows and ornamental ironwork, all meticulously restored to its former grandeur. There are 59 luxury apartments in the gated development, starting from £899,995, and the showhome launched last week, contact 020 7718 5202, www.knightfrank.co.uk

 

The Lourdes Collection, Fulham

This historic Victorian Fulham church newly converted into nine luxury apartments, with a very modern feel, is moments from West Brompton underground. There are still three, two-bedroom apartments available, from £975, 000, 020 7368 4830, www.marshandparsons.co.uk

 

Oakfield Court, Bristol

Further afield, this new development launches in September and comprises 16 one- and two-bed apartments over four floors set within a beautifully converted church in Bristol’s highly desirable Clifton area. Expect kaleidoscopic stained-glass windows, high-vaulted ceilings, and even the church’s original arches – all have been retained and restored as part of the sympathetic conversion.

Prices from £225,000, 0117 317 1999, www.knightfrank.co.uk

 

ALISON TYLER

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A home fit for an architect

A micro-development of just three townhouses in a quiet, leafy Clapham street just off the Common by world-renowned architects Squire and Partners, famed for their flagship projects such as Chelsea Barracks and One Tower Bridge – it’s an intriguing combination.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.35.53

So when I met Henry Squire at one of the contemporary interpretations of a Victorian villa one sunny morning last week I wanted to find out more. It turned out that he hadn’t had far to come; his father and business partner, architect Michael Squire lives just two doors down.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.29.56

“This is the street I grew up on, and Dad moved here 30 years ago, so when we saw this old Eighties office block was up for sale – which never made sense on this very residential street – we just had to buy it,” explains Henry.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.30.18

Who better then, to take on the project of creating three new family homes than someone who already knows all the neighbours, and knows what people in the area are looking for.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.30.44

While they are undoubtedly “wow” homes they don’t look out of place and don’t overshadow or bully any of the neighbouring properties. There’s a modesty and simplicity about them from the outside – the huge picture windows still feel discreet somehow, while the bespoke metalwork on the balcony have been designed to mirror detailing that can be seen elsewhere in the road.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.34.58

Inside it is huge, with clean lines, and confident oversized parquet floors to match the spacious hallway, cloakroom, living room and library spaces on the upper ground floor. But there is still a sense of the Victorian villa here – in the drawing room there’s a real stone, marble-plinth fireplace; rich American black walnut timber has been used for all of the windows; the staircase curves up through the entire building and you can look up through all of the three floors to the top of the house.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.33.19

“We could have put in a lift, but I was just against it morally,” explains Henry. “I know we might lose a couple of buyers because of it but a family house like this shouldn’t have a lift – and you’d rarely climb all six floors at once. The same goes for comfort cooling, I just don’t believe a house like this needs it, you can just open the windows.” Although Henry does admit that they have installed comfort cooling in the bedrooms – these are the kinds of demands that international buyers want, and it is changing the shape of development in London, but Henry is confident about who will want this house and why.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.35.15

At the top of the building, three storeys up, a top floor media room have balconies on either side of the building, below it are six bedrooms, three of which have balconies. The master suite is luxuriously generous in size with a large, dressing area and a vast en-suite bathroom where Filetto marble combines with large porcelain tiles by Domus to create a serene, contemporary-but-not-too-cool finish.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.32.31

“We’ve deliberately kept it feeling neutral with room to personalise the space,” says Henry.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.34.31

“If we’d tiled it wall-to-wall there’s no opportunity for a buyer to make it there’s, so as the architect you have to hold back and restrain yourself a little.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.32.50

The real selling point of this home, beyond its fantastic proportions and high quality finish, can be found on the lower ground floor.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.31.31

A separate, glass-sided staircase leads downstairs and is a taste of what to expect. Once downstairs you arrive at an entirely open-plan super-room that houses the kitchen, dining room, family snug, and a light-filled garden living room, separated by the rest of the room by a glass “sock” as Henry calls it. Sliding floor-to-ceiling glass doors span the entire back of the house, opening up the garden and living space seamlessly, while the walnut floor running the length of the inside gives a feeling of continuity. It is incredibly impressive without feeling brash, or smug, or over-the-top.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.31.12

“We could have put in a £250,000 kitchen, but again I just don’t think the house it needs it,” says Henry. “There’s not that much difference between a £50,000 kitchen and a £250,000 kitchen and it was important to us that it blends with the space well and functions well – this one is from SieMatic.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.31.46

The Ceaserstone Osprey worktops and Filetto marble splashback feel as expensive as they look, while the copper pendant lights by Tom Dixon add a dash of contemporary colour into the mix. But you can see it would make a hard-working family kitchen in what is the ultimate family space. It’s a 21st-century version of knocking through the walls of a Victorian home that so many families have done up and down the capital, “our interpretation of the bourgeois break-through,” says Henry.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.28.34

Is it every architect’s dream to build their own home, I wonder? The answer, if this project is anything to go by, is “yes”. Henry’s father Michael Squire has actually moved into one of the three houses, leaving just two left for sale. And if it’s good enough for one of the world’s leading architects…

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.27.48

The houses at Macaulay Road, Clapham are priced at £6.75 million, contact Savills on 020 3430 6900, www.savills.com.

ALISON TYLER

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Manhattan meets East London

A raft of new sky-piercing towers is springing up at Canary Wharf – allowing new residents to live the high life, in more ways than one

South Quay Plaza
South Quay Plaza

Berkeley Homes has built a reputation on being a bit special, as their managing director Harry Lewis says “we don’t do any ‘standard’ products, each development is bespoke and hand-picked. We pick our projects very carefully – it keeps us honest and it makes what we do different and full of character. We don’t have a cookie-cutter approach.”

And there is certainly nothing cookie-cutter about their latest project. It is extraordinary: a gleaming, slimline glass tower designed by Foster + Partners sitting at the crossroads of two docks, right opposite South Quay DLR and on a direct path (once they’ve built a bridge across the dock) to the Jubilee line and Crossrail station.

It wouldn’t look out of place in downtown Manhattan or Hong Kong and in an instant it has made the rest of Canary Wharf look dated and clunky – which is no mean feat.

South Quay Plaza will be surrounded by "pocket" parks
South Quay Plaza will be surrounded by “pocket” parks

It is brave and bold and startlingly tall, soaring to 68 storeys, making it the UK’s tallest residential scheme (ahead of the Shard, whose penthouse sits on the 64th and 65th floors). Around the base of the two diamond-shaped towers, angled to make the most of the sunlight and dual-aspect position on the dock, there will be 10,000 square feet of retail and dining space as well as a public park and gardens for the apartments – in fact 1.6 acres of the three-acre site will be given over to the gardens and space around the buildings. “It will be really something unique for this neighbourhood where most sites occupy more than 90 per cent of the site that they are on, it will give something back to the area by offering space and public gardens, which will bring life into the area, too, so there will be a really buzzy atmosphere,” explains architect and master-planner Grant Brooker a senior partner at Foster + Partners. “Tall buildings are the right answer for this area, but you have to generate life around them and set the buildings in a ‘place’ – high rise is all about getting the design right and about what you give back, there has to be a trade-off.”

South Quay Plaza's retail and social space
South Quay Plaza’s retail and social space

And the glass towers certainly have the “wow” factor – they will be little wider than two average-sized houses once built, but the sheets of glass, with lots of angles cut in to bring even more light through the building, feel airy and transparent so that despite the height, it is incredibly elegant and unobtrusive. “I knew I wanted something really spectacular,” explains Lewis, “so we sent out the tender to six of the very best architecture firms, but the Foster + Partners’ plan was so brilliant, they had us at ‘hello’.”

It seems the Tower Hamlets planners were equally enamoured as the plans went through without any significant changes at all, bar a reduction in height by five storeys (“they were worried that planes might not see it,” says Brooker), which is virtually unheard of.

There will 888 homes at South Quay Plaza, from suites to three-beds and penthouses, but Lewis doesn’t look worried about selling them, the workforce in Canary Wharf is predicted to double by 2025 and average earnings here are the highest in the country, while property prices are expected to grow by 37 per cent over the next four years, compare to a London average of 29.4 per cent.

“This is the start of a new era for Canary Wharf,” Brooker tells me. “First came the office phase, and more recently is has been all about embracing retail and the emergence of entertainment and dining spaces. Now it is time for the residential story to develop – it’s the natural next step.”

A new bridge between the Jubilee Line at Canary Wharf and Marsh Wall will drive footfall through the space, creating a vibrant destination
A new bridge between the Jubilee Line at Canary Wharf and Marsh Wall will drive footfall through the space, creating a vibrant destination

The floor-to-ceiling windows, interiors also designed by Foster + Partners, and the inclusion of residents’ facilities such as a vast wellness centre with a pool and gym, and a club occupying the entire 56th floor with an outdoor terrace that will feature two bars, a lounge, screening room, dining rooms and meeting rooms, even a homework room for children and a crèche, all make this a building to live in, not just a trophy home.

And where Berkeley lead, the well-heeled, and other developers, follow. They are the Waitrose of the building world. So you can expect a small forest of shiny new residential towers to spring up in South Quay Plaza’s wake – in fact by 2020 there will be more than 5,000 residential homes here, that’s a whole new town. Get ready Canary Wharf, things are about to get a whole lot more lively.

South Quay Plaza launches on 14 July with suites starting from £490,000, www.southquayplaza.london

 

Towering in the East –  new developments reaching for the skies in Docklands

10 Park Drive
10 Park Drive
10 Park Drive
10 Park Drive

10 Park Drive

The current site of Wood Wharf will become a new mixed-use district of offices, retail, parks, a hotel, school and more than 3,000 apartments, filling a currently languishing site on the east side of the Canary Wharf Estate – incredibly these residential homes are the first ever to be built on the Canary Wharf estate in its 30-year history.

Numerous big name architects will be involved from Herzog & de Meuron to Grid, Make and Stanton Williams, who are responsible for 10 Park Drive, the first tower of some 30 buildings that will be constructed here. There are 345 studio, one and two-bed apartments with a residents’ roof terrace in the 13-storey tower that will adjoin another, 42-storey tower. Residents will also have membership to a health and fitness club. The apartments launch on 9 July with prices from £395,000, www.canarywharf.com/residential.

Harbour Central
Harbour Central

Harbour Central

Comprising five residential buildings, a leisure complex and park, Galliard Homes’ Harbour Central sits moments from South Quay DLR. Its flagship Art-Deco-style tower, Maine Tower, will be 42 storeys high and has been conceived as a “vertical village” with social spaces on various levels, from a library and cinema to a gym, spa and residents’ club. The interiors have been designed by Nicola Fontanella of Argent Design, bringing Miami glamour to Docklands.

The 297 studios, one, two and three bedroom apartments at Maine Tower, launched at the weekend, with prices from £350,000, www.harbourcentral.com

Dollar Bay
Dollar Bay
Dollar Bay
Dollar Bay

Dollar Bay

A little further down South Dock from South Quay Plaza, and sitting opposite the Wood Wharf site, developer Mount Anvil is constructing Dollar Bay, 111 apartments from studios to three bedrooms, with a winter garden for every apartment, a residents’-only garden, gym and lounge. The glossy, glass tower has been created by Ian Simpson Architects and will have unrivalled views over the river to Greenwich. Register an interest ahead of their launch at www.mountanvil.com

Newfoundland-2014-1-1024x576-741x417

Newfoundland Tower
Newfoundland Tower

Newfoundland Tower

On the western side of the Canary Wharf Estate, dubbed the diamond building because of its diamond-like supporting frame (rather like the Gherkin), Newfoundland Tower will be 58 storeys tall, housing 566 apartments, when it completes in 2017. www.canarywharf.com/residential

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    Tags: will, homes, london, architecture, property, design, british

A new Wimbledon ace

For Catherine Beagley, the sales and marketing director at Berkeley Homes (West London), the restoration and conversion of the former Atkinson Morley Hospital in Wimbledon, couldn’t have come soon enough.

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A Wimbledon girl all her life, she can remember the days when this was a working neurosurgical hospital and the many years that it has been closed and neglected since the last patient was treated in 2003.

Some of that neglect is evident as we work our way around the Victorian building – graffiti on the walls, remnants of fires and teenage vandalism that come with a derelict building, can be seen. You’d never imagine that this was once one of the world’s most advanced brain surgery centres.

But when Beagley and the team of architects and developers first walked around the site they could instantly see the potential “As soon as we walked the site we were buzzing with ideas about what we could do with it, where you could instantly see an incredible duplex apartment with a mezzanine and a vaulted ceiling, or how you could convert the chapel into its own self-contained apartment complete with the stained glass windows and wood panelling. Seeing inside the building, it just made sense.”

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She’s not the only one who is excited to see the transformation of what is a landmark local building. “Local people are really excited about the historic project and the level of interest is really high – people are clawing at the door to get in,” says Beagley of the highly anticipated launch of the apartments in the hospital building. “If you live locally, you cannot fail to want to see this building restored to its former glory. Working on this project, it’s one of those sites that you just know you’re going to be really proud of when it’s finished.”

The development of the historic space, which opened in 1869, has not been easy – in some places, around the soaring double-height bay windows there are cracks large enough to put your hand through, in others the beautiful curved brick ceilings are being protected and supported by a form of spray-on concrete that will hold them in place so that the detailing can be retained.

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It will be worth it though as period buildings, with their characterful features and interesting spaces, are a real draw for buyers who want the charm and personality. But most modern buyers also want the security of a new-home guarantee, of double-glazing and efficient heating. Character conversions such as this are the ideal compromise.

“Everyone loves a conversion,” says Beagley. “There’s a status thing to live in a grand building, but you get the best of both worlds as you don’t have the upkeep and maintenance that comes with an old building.”

It doesn’t get much more grand than the penthouse triplex apartment, which will even come with its own turret and Victorian wrought-iron railings – and a glorious south-facing view over formal gardens, and then landscaped mature parkland, followed by open playing fields – you almost can’t see another house around.

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One of the most exciting things about working with an old building like this is that the architects have top work with what already exists, so you get some really unique spaces – the duplex apartments in the wings of the hospital will have double aspect windows and mezzanine floors to make the most of the extraordinarily high ceiling heights.

Under the building there will be parking with a lift, while the development will also house a gym, concierge and a business lounge with wifi and a meeting room. And as part of the redevelopment of the site, Berkeley Homes is refurbishing Morley Park spots pavilion, which will provide sports facilities for the pupils at Ursuline High School which neighbours the parkland. As a former Ursuline girl herself, it’s no wonder Beagley feels proud of the project. “This site has got everything,” she says, “it’s a dream to work on.”

And for a very lucky few, it will be a dream to live in, too.

Wellington Row, the centrepiece historic hospital conversion at The Wimbledon Collection, launches this September. Two bedroom apartments at the development start at £1.15 million.  Find out more at www.berkeleygroup.co.uk or to register an interest call 0208 003 6139 or email sales@wimbledonhillpark.co.uk.

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