The Househunter: Three Under a Million

11th May 2018
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Happy Friday – that was a lovely short week wasn’t it. This time, in an almost unheard of move, we are going to take a trip round three houses that are all under a million pounds. In London. Coming?

This is the first – a  former Victorian school building which is on for £650,000 via The Modern House. It’s at the back of the building on the first floor and comprises one small bedroom, a bathroom and the open plan-living kitchen space.

The bedroom has been squeezed into a sort of bulge behind the table but that works to slightly divide the cooking and eating area from the sitting area so it works quite well as a device. The bathroom is off to the right of the picture just past the washing machine.

What it lacks in floor space, it makes up for in ceiling height meaning that with its white walls and large windows, it feels lighter and larger than it actually is. Also note the clever floating wall below behind which is the bedroom.

The flat, a two minute walk from Hoxton Square, which is now a bustling area full of cool restaurants and bars, is also close to Shoreditch which, when this school house was built was the centre of the the area’s furniture and carpentry trade. Now, of course, it’s a mental price for a one bedroom flat but in terms of its location and the private outdoor space – tiny though it it – it would be a good buy if you could get it. I make no comment on prices, we are just here to nose about.

Next up is this four bedroom detached house in the Shirley area of Croydon which is on for £845,000 – although you will probably need to spend some money on it. It was built by the architect Sydney Gubby for his own occupation in the 1930s and is in remarkably good condition, say the agents The Modern House.

The original fireplaces, front door and many of the crittal windows are still intact as well as some of the 1930s kitchen units. It would be amazing to keep it all as it is, but not all of it will be up to the rigours and requirements of modern life. Not least because these days a four bedroom house probably requires a second bathroom, or at least a downstairs loo so there will have to be some reconfiguration.

But look at details like this recessed alcove in the bedroom and how Gubby played with ceiling heights in the image below. I would be tempted to paint the ceiling over the bed the same as the walls to create a canopy and then have the rest white. The colour, by the way, is a dead ringer for Arsenic by Farrow & Ball, which coincidentally I saw in a client’s house this week and which we both decided she needed a little more of.

There are stairs leading from outside this bedroom to an enormous roof terrace, recently resurfaced, which, say the agents, has views towards Canary Wharf – although views “towards” isn’t quite the same as views “of” so you might need to check that.

The garden, which is about 1/3 of an acre has a playhouse built by Gubby for his children; he would sit on the roof terrace and stargaze apparently, and there is a double garage. I’m rather in love with this one – I know nothing about this part of Croydon but the agents have sold it to me. What do you think?

Lastly, this one bedroom flat created as a live/work space for artists in 1968, which is on the market for £895,000 in north west London. It was built to a design by the modernist architect Georgie Wolton, and it’s rare that one of these flats comes to the market.

This one is a duplex wtih a private terrace and access to communal gardens. The double height reception has a 33ft high ceiling with huge skylights and views of the garden at the back. This one isn’t going to work for me because just looking at that staircase makes me nervous, although I think it’s a very beautiful piece of architecture. That’s when you understand why staircases are called the spines of the building.

I’m also taken with the yellow stripe running under the concrete worktop. That’s a fantastic little detail and one that I would never have thought of. It’s a great way to add a little personality to the space don’t you think? I might not do it in yellow but any colour you fancy would work.

Also, remember yesterday’s post on kitchen trends – all that open shelving and having objects on display is already happening here. This has been made like a restaurant kitchen – everything is to hand and within easy reach and you don’t need to go foraging in cupboards and drawers to find what you need.

Georgie Wolton was one of the founding members of Team 4, which included Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and Wendy Cheesman (her sister) who later married Foster. When Team 4 was founded Wolton was the only qualified architect in the group. And on that note we shall leave this house.

Who’s moving where this week. I have to say I think I’m off to Croydon. What about the rest of you?

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  • Anna 11th May 2018 at 12:50 pm

    Gill put into Google Scandinavian Homeware shop Tottenham court road …lots come up from West Elm to Heals.

    This weeks choice…no thanks and I would hate to come home to the sight of a group of dustbins as in the third choice.

    • Gill 12th May 2018 at 10:05 am

      Thanks so much Anna. In London for the weekend and want to try and find this if I can. I’ve not brought a massive suitcase for nothing!!

      • Sheree 13th May 2018 at 7:41 am

        Gill, I think the shop you are want, is Hema.

        • Gill 13th May 2018 at 4:51 pm

          That’s it Sheree! Thanks so much!

  • Nicola 11th May 2018 at 12:17 pm

    Croydon is gorgeous. Art Deco seems underrated but I love it. The F&B arsenic paint works perfectly too.

  • Susan Lopez 11th May 2018 at 9:28 am

    I can certainly see why they chose an open concept design in the Wolton house as there really is no room for uppers and it does lack sufficient storage. I will add that if anyone is considering the open shelving and kitchen rail you should know that they can be a bother to keep clean and tidy. I’ve had this design for 15 years now and I’m constantly cleaning the items on the shelves and removing stored items on the rails to get behind to clean.

    Dust is also major problem as well as grease if you don’t have a super extractor. The pots hung above the stove will most certainly receive a fine spray of cooking grease and then this will cook on into an impossible to remove polymerised finish after each use.

    I’ve also had stainless cabinet fronts for 15 years as well as a stainless backsplash and while I love the look and durability they also need a great deal of care as fingermarks and splashes show and they do oxidize over time and have to be polished monthly.

    While I do appreciate having everything at hand while cooking I think the next kitchen will have everything hidden.

  • Gill 11th May 2018 at 9:28 am

    Another great post thanks Kate. Totally unrelated question……. a while ago you mentioned a scandi Homeware type shop I think on Tottenham Court Road, I think it was in one of your Christmas posts. Could you remind me of the name please?!! Thanks so much!

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