The interiors must haves in north London's £45k/month rentals
PUBLISHED: 12:48 12 August 2016 | UPDATED: 12:48 12 August 2016
Forget gold-plated fittings and chintzy opulence; if you want to attract a super high end tenant stick to luxury neutrals and the latest technology for the ultimate stealth wealth look.
While once the average earner could console themselves over their relative lack of spendies by openly laughing at the terrible taste of those who could afford to splash the cash and weren’t afraid to let you know all about it, nowadays it’s all about stealth wealth.
Blame the financial crisis, the emergence of normcore, or the ultimate normal Norman couple the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge but it’s just not chic for your clothes, your social life or your home to scream “I’m loaded” any longer. In 2016 the cry should be reduced to a murmur, audible only to those who can understand it.
Nowhere is this more evident perhaps than in the décor of the super high net worth rental, a property genre that sits somewhere between five star hotel and royal residence, where rents can easily cost £45,000/month.
Throughout Hampstead, St John’s Wood and Regent’s Park, the streets are pocked with these properties, either serviced flats with full concierge facilities and communal leisure suites, or large family homes with staff quarters and off-street parking for a fleet of luxury cars.
What they all have in common is an emphasis on “quality, luxury, comfort and a subtle finish,” according to Marie Beirne, who works in lettings at Aston Chase.
“The look is neutral, white and black is very popular at the moment, or the taupe, Kelly Hoppen style interior. The other option is a very rockstar look, which Darren Gayer excels at.”
Think wood, marble and grey, which has replaced cream as the go-to colour of wealth, with statement pieces like large chandeliers present but movable. The feeling of luxury comes from materials and layout these days, rather than glitz.
Clients are looking for “almost Kardashian styles of aspirational living,” says Beirne. “I don’t think personal taste can come into a rental property, and nothing too colourful.”
Belsize Park-based interior designer Celia Sawyer, who often fits out luxury rental properties agrees that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find ‘luxury’ and ‘character’ in the same sentence – and nor would you want to.
“I don’t think characterful is an option when you’re doing luxury property,” she says.
“It needs to have a lot of glamour about it, not a lot of nick nacks and quirky bits.
“It should be a very glamorous, low maintenance blank canvas that they can zhush up with their own pieces using really lovely finishes – velvet on sofas, large mirrors with bevelled glass that make the room look larger.
“What people seem to want in the luxury rental market is quite like a luxury hotel.
“Some people say that’s not right, it should feel like a home, but at a certain level I don’t think that’s true.”
Don’t expect to be able to palm off any old second hand or antique velvet sofa though, it goes without saying that only the best craftsmanship will do, with “Made in the UK” or Italy as desirable a label for international clients as it is in high end fashion.
And when a client’s spending £10,000 a week or more you won’t seal the deal with anything less than brand spanking new, even in a period property.
“We’ve found brand new is very important. The majority of the large houses are modern with contemporary decor, however, there’s still a certain clientele who’d prefer a traditional look, but brand new, says Amit Soni, associate director at Glentree.
“We’ve got some very nice houses that are very pleasing to the eye but they’re slightly dated and we can’t shift them because anyone looking at that level wants brand new.”
While it’s a costly endeavour to re-fit a house regularly, it could help you to double your money as a landlord. Soni estimates that a freshly re-fitted house of about 12,000 sq ft could fetch £12-15,000 per week, while something similar but slightly older could let for £5-7,000 per week in the current market.
“Things get dated very quickly, what was in fashion five years ago may not be now,” says Danny Samuels, head of lettings at TK International. “Gold plated fixtures and fittings don’t appeal to most tenants any more. We have some properties that have been on the books for a while because what the landlord thinks is good or desirable isn’t any more.
“Top to toe fit outs are expensive so landlords don’t want to be doing major works every couple of years but every five to ten years it’s a good idea to give them a complete overhaul.”
That said, while a re-fit will cost you in the hundreds of thousands of pounds, according to Sawyer, working for a landlord is never quite as lavish as working for a private client.
“Money is an object if it’s a landlord or developer,” she says. “They want it to look great but they’re not living in it themselves.
“You go to a certain level of expense, which is very high, but it’s not a private client, who might want a specific type of leather on a chair for example.
“You’re mixing Prada with Topshop. It has to look amazing but not cost the Earth.”
One area where it’s advised not to scrimp is on the very latest technology throughout the home, from the latest WiFi speakers to a state-of-the-art kitchen, not to mention the home cinema and car lift – yes, car lift, in a £7,950 per week property in Frognal, available through TK International.
On a more mundane level is the requirement to have a television in every single room, from the gym and the dining room to the shower rooms, which Sawyer says is a hugely common request.
And it goes without saying that a swimming pool, sauna, gym, games room, even a full size bowling alley, are seen as basics when rent hits £20,000 per week.
Self contained staff quarters for two or more live-in employees are also a must, often on the lower levels according to Beirne, in a very Downton Abbey upstairs/downstairs fashion.
As you might expect, these are simpler and less lavishly fitted out than above stairs, although attention is still paid to comfort and the nanny and chauffeur’s living quarters are probably about as smart as the average, relatively pricey north London rental– the staff need to be happy too.
“You call that low-key? Really?” I hear you cry. Sure, the facilities may be akin to those you’d find in a fairly small shopping mall, but the colour palette and finish are by no means the in your face confections of yore.
The new luxe is more bland than bling.