FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 8 2017 Rural revival WHY THE COUNTRY IS THE NEW PRICE-GROWTH AREA pages 8-9 Buy a second home in bitcoin page 11 Raw hide: the best leather chairs page 14 2 Bricks & Mortar 1GP Friday September 8 2017 | the times HOME OF THE WEEK A perfect place to hold court A member of the Slazenger sports family once owned this mansion, says Anna Temkin T he buyer of Thorne Barton Hall could become the next Andy Murray or Johanna Konta. They would be well placed for sports stardom with a fine tennis court to practise on, put there by a member of the Slazenger sports dynasty who wanted it to be fit for a first-class player. Ralph Chivas Gully Slazenger bought the elegant Victorian house in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, shortly after the Second World War. He lived there with his wife and children until 1953, when he sold his stake in the family business and moved to Ireland. Situated in the Chiltern Hills, the property, which came on to the market this week with Strutt & Parker for �5 million, has far-reaching views. It dates back to the 1830s but the present owner, who has lived there for 40 years and is looking to downsize, added a substantial garage wing. With seven bedrooms, four bathrooms and two kitchens, there is no shortage of space for guests; after a gruelling session on the court they might decide to cool down in the swimming pool, or warm up in the sauna after a frosty winter?s walk. The grounds have been well maintained and there are several timber-clad outbuildings that provide useful storage space for garden machinery. Mark Rimell, a partner at Strutt & Parker?s national country house department, predicts that Thorne Barton Hall will attract a buyer with a young family who wants to move outside London, ?perhaps to take advantage of the good schools in Buckinghamshire and the favourable transport links?. The property is in the catchment area for Chesham Grammar School, Dr Challoner?s Grammar School for boys in Amersham, and Dr Challoner?s High School for girls in Little Chalfont. A direct rail service to London Euston from Berkhamsted station, which is about three miles away, takes just over half an hour. Thorne Barton Hall in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, is on the market for �5 million through Strutt & Parker Prime properties Rural retreat Period apartment Lower Bryanston, Dorset Shoreditch, E2 WHAT YOU GET Surrounded by farmland, this property comprises an 18th-century cottage, 19th-century schoolhouse and modern extension. It has limestone and solid-oak flooring, two wood-burning stoves, lawns, four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room and a dining room that leads to a raised kitchen. Its outbuildings include a home office or occasional bedroom. WHERE IS IT? Less than two miles from Blandford Forum, in the Cranborne Chase area of outstanding natural beauty. UPSIDE Reception rooms open on to secluded gardens. DOWNSIDE The nearest station is 14 miles away, in Poole. PRICE �5,000 CONTACT The Modern House, 020 3795 5920, themodernhouse.com WHAT YOU GET This 1,043 sq ft duplex is at the rear of a development of eight homes converted from a children?s hospital. It has a double-aspect master bedroom, two further bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor, and a living room with large sash windows and a stylish kitchen on the ground floor. A gated off-street parking space is included, accessed from Laburnum Street. WHERE IS IT? On Kingsland Road, which runs between Shoreditch and Stoke Newington and is known for its nightlife. It is moments from Regent?s Canal. UPSIDE Off-street parking is a rarity in London. DOWNSIDE The lack of outside space. PRICE �5,000 CONTACT Fyfe McDade, 020 7613 4044, fyfemcdade.com the times | Friday September 8 2017 Bricks & Mortar 3 1GP ON THE MARKET Make the move to a former forge Morval, Cornwall Set in three and a half acres of land, this listed property is in Morval, a rural hamlet close to the Cornish Orchards cider and apple juice farm shop, just inland from the fishing port of Looe. It includes a refurbished four-bedroom house with an adjoining three-bedroom cottage and a three-bedroom converted forge. �1 million, savills.com Horam, East Sussex Formerly a forge, this restored and extended oak-framed four-bedroom house has a new roof, wiring and plumbing, as well as underfloor heating, an exposed-beam interior, stone fireplace, oil-fired and electric Agas and a copper roll-top bath. �0,000, freemanforman.co.uk Milborne Port, Somerset Former farmhouse Woolley Moor, Derbyshire WHAT YOU GET Created from a period farmhouse and adjoining outbuildings, this stone house has mullion windows, beamed ceilings, a master bedroom, three further bedrooms, a bathroom and shower room, a kitchen, dining room, sitting room, drawing room, garden room that leads to a courtyard, and an attached garage. It also has solar panels. The grounds include large lawns, and a walled garden with soft fruit. WHERE IS IT? In a rural spot above Ogston Reservoir, six miles from Matlock, which lies close to the Peak District. UPSIDE Views to the reservoir and hills. DOWNSIDE Some rooms can only be reached by walking through others. PRICE �5,000 CONTACT Savills, 0115 934 8020, savills.co.uk Claire Carponen Tucked away in the village of Milborne Port, this converted 19th-century forge with three attic bedrooms has the look of a mews house. There is no hallway, but it has a reception room and a large enclosed, south-facing garden, which has a raised decked terrace at the rear. �5,000, humberts.com Longhoughton, Northumberland A former 18th-century blacksmith?s cottage, this three-bedroom house five miles from Alnwick has not lost its original atmosphere. The single-storey home has exposed stone walls and a beamed sitting room with a Northumbrian stone hearth and a wood-burning stove. �5,000, sandersonyoung.co.uk Claire Carponen 4 Bricks & Mortar 1GP Friday September 8 2017 | the times COMMENT How developers can lead the space race Anne Ashworth S Property and Personal Finance Editor ize matters. Of course it does. Why else would more and more homeowners be extending upwards, outwards and downwards to boost the dimensions of their homes? But despite this race for space, a house can still be considered too big by growing families who wish to relocate. Five or more bedrooms may be seen as a boon in a country property: townies in search of a rural address are able to reconcile themselves to a large stamp duty bill if they can invite lots of friends to stay in their new abode. However, in towns and cities, four bedrooms are increasingly seen as sufficient (see page 9). Sellers of larger properties are being advised to convert rooms into bathrooms or walk-in wardrobes, which represent the kind of space that people perceive to be extra rather than superfluous. This new way of seeing a home is closer to the US model, where you shop for a property to rent or buy based on its square footage, rather than its number of bedrooms. A number of housebuilders would likely not welcome the wide-scale adoption of such buying habits since it would reveal that their three-bedroom residences were poky. However, these companies could use the new size awareness to their advantage. The latest financial results of Barratt and other big names show how Help to Buy has boosted their profits. These businesses could lobby for this government scheme to be extended beyond its planned expiry date of 2021 by committing to more generous space standards, or to the creation of tiny homes where every inch is ingeniously used. The demand for the latest set of flats from the London developer Pocket (the What to do with extra space: turn a room into a bathroom ? artwork optional clue is in the name) indicates that small is seen as beautiful, but only if life in miniature manages to encapsulate all the normal requirements. Statistic of the Week As you pack away your summer clothes, are you feeling wistful for long, lazy days on the beach? Then you will not be surprised to learn of the prices fetched for homes where you can enjoy such delights on a regular basis. Seafront properties typically attract a premium of 33 per cent, but in some resorts the value of such a home can be much higher. A study from Jackson-Stops, the estate agency, cites towns such as Aldeburgh in Suffolk, where the average house on the seafront, or ?front row?, costs �0,000 against �4,000 in the surrounding area. Such is the lure of the sound of waves on the pebble shore that a front-row Aldeburgh property recently fetched much more than its asking price of �5 million. At Bricks & Mortar we love the seaside, but we managed to put those feelings aside in favour of figures showing trends in all locations. Barclays Wealth & Investments says that house prices are rising faster in Birmingham and Newcastle than in London. Thanks to long-term price appreciation in many regions, one in 79 Britons is now a millionaire ? our Statistic of the Week. Most live in London and the southeast, where 285,000 individuals are worth seven figures or more, despite a weaker housing market. Many of these people climbed on to the ladder with relative ease in their twenties. The equity they have built up allows them to acquire more real estate, by the sea or in cities. A decade on from the start of the financial crisis, equity and cash have become the ?dominant source of funding? in all deals, as a separate piece of research from Savills underlines. Thanks to the rationing of finance, homebuyers reliant on a mortgage account for 43 per cent of transactions. As a result of these conditions, today?s twentysomethings can only dream of becoming future members of the millionaires? club. This is a problem that politicians must address now that they are back from the beach and sitting at their desks. 6 Bricks & Mortar 1GP Friday September 8 2017 | the times LONDON Move into a flat purpose-built in a factory Tastemakers Aneeqa Khan A neeqa Khan was 26 and working as a strategy director at Zoopla, a property website, when she became so frustrated by the process of furnishing her first flat that she founded Eporta, an online interiors sourcing company for trade buyers. Three years on, it connects manufacturers and interior designers with 1,000 brands globally. Khan lives in a mews apartment in Kensington, west London. Carol Lewis visits a scheme where a developer known for its compact and affordable homes is creating apartments on a larger scale P ocket Living, a provider of affordable small homes, launched its first flats on the open market this week. The two and threebedroom apartments are a new departure for the business, which has made its name with factory-made, containersized homes for first-time buyers. Also this week, the company announced it had received �0 million from the government, the mayor of London and Lloyds Bank to build more than 1,000 homes for first-time buyers in Greater London by 2021. Its regular one-bedroom homes, at only 38 sq m, are priced at a discount of at least 20 per cent on local market prices. Prices are agreed with local councils. Pocket Living has a waiting list of more than 35,000 buyers eager to snap up its compact homes ? Lucian Smithers, the sales and marketing director, says he receives 70 to 100 registrations a week. Purchasers of the affordable homes have to be first-time buyers who earn less than �,000 and live or work in the local area. Owners must not rent the property out and, when they sell, must do so to another local resident. Buyers of the new open-market homes, branded Pocket Edition, will not have to meet these criteria. These homes are larger (70-85 sq m) and built to a higher specification than the affordable homes ? with oak panelling, wooden floors and higher-quality kitchens ? hence the starting price of �5,000, rather than �5,000, for the homes in Wandsworth, southwest London. The first 36 Pocket Edition apartments are at the company?s Mapleton Crescent development, a 27-storey block of 89 homes tucked behind Wandsworth?s Southside shopping centre. The block, made up of Pocket?s factory-built units, will be clad in teal-coloured ceramic tiles It?s true ? you should buy the cheapest house on the most expensive street S made by the artist Loraine Rutt, who grew up in the area. The ridged tiles are designed to reflect light off the River Wandle, which runs beside the building ? Rutt has even made matching mugs using the distinctive glaze. The triangular apartment block has an art deco appearance with its ceramic tiles and bronze-coloured window frames ? the building, designed by Metropolitan Workshop, has won an architecture award. Inside there will be a reception area, a residents? lounge, a communal roof terrace and bicycle storage facilities. The homes will be ready to move into by next summer, although potential buyers can look around the apartments now using a virtual reality tool by the 3D specialist VRPM in the onsite show suite. Smithers doesn?t expect a shortage of buyers. ?There?s huge appeal in a new-build development which will be fully occupied and feel like a fully cooked community from day one. The affordable Pocket flats will go in an instant. I think this will attract buyers to the Pocket Edition flats ? in the past we have had downsizers inquire about our homes ? they are o here is a conundrum: is it better to invest in the cheapest house in the most expensive street, or the most expensive property in the cheapest street? The decision won?t be purely financial for most people, but analysis by researchers at Hamptons International estate agency shows that, in an average neighbourhood, someone who buys the cheapest house on the most expensive street makes an average of �,000 more ? about 65 per cent more in capital appreciation ? than someone who buys the most expensive home on the cheapest street. On the most prestigious roads in the most expensive neighbourhoods, buyers pay a premium for the address. The size and condition of the home often plays Apartments in Pocket Edition Mapleton Crescent in Wandsworth, south London, above left, start at �5,000. Below: glazed mugs by Loraine Rutt, who grew up in the area second fiddle to the reputation of the road. In these neighbourhoods the buyer of the cheapest house on the most expensive street will make an average of 45 per cent more (equivalent to about �,000) than the person who chose the expensive property on a cheaper street. Cheaper areas often have defined price ceilings. This makes it more difficult for cheaper homes to increase in value to much above the average. In these areas the buyer of the cheapest home in the most expensive street makes �,000 more (about 75 per cent) than the buyer who opted for the expensive home on the cheap street. Fionnuala Earley, the residential research director at Hamptons, says: ?Buying in the best street pays dividends and now we can put a number on it. Of homes sold in the last year in keen to live within a vibrant community.? The Pocket development sits within the wider regeneration of Wandsworth town centre. Across the road from Mapleton Crescent, London & Quadrant (L&Q) is building about 200 homes at its Garratt Place development. At the end of the road is the former Young?s Ram Brewery site, which is being transformed by Greenland Group into the Ram Quarter. This will have more than 600 homes, shops, restaurants, a microbrewery and a brewing museum that will celebrate the site?s history as the country?s longest-running brewery. There are plans to open a walkway along the River Wandle past the Pocket Living site, and there is talk of Transport for London reconfiguring the road layout through the town to ease traffic congestion. Further Pocket Edition apartments are being built in developments in Deptford in southeast London, and Kingston upon Thames in southwest London. Smithers says that, in the short-term, Pocket Living will concentrate on building affordable homes in Greater London, although there has been interest ?from virtually every city in the UK?. Is your home too big? Page 9 an average neighbourhood, there was a �,000 bigger uplift for someone who bought the cheapest home on the best street, rather than the most expensive one on the cheapest street. ?That uplift happens in cheaper and more expensive neighbourhoods too. Taking a risk on an up-and-coming area can pay off in percentage terms, but not at any cost. Cheaper areas often have more tightly defined price ceilings, so spending a huge amount on refurbishment may not pay off as much as in an average neighbourhood. The same is true at the other end of the spectrum, where it?s the kudos of the address that brings the premium, almost regardless of the condition of the property.? Carol Lewis W What is your source of inspiration? Eporta. I?m in the privileged position of being able to see cutting-edge design, which means I?m inspired every day at work; living the dream. W Chintz or minimalism? Both. The best places create small worlds in different areas of a space, where each one makes you feel different to the other. One corner could be high chintz, another high minimalism, another a blend of the two. W What is your design essential? Great paint. The colour and texture you use on the walls transforms how a room feels. I?m obsessed with Farrow & Ball. W What is your favourite interior design ?quick fix?? A beautiful statement rug and the right lighting will transform any space. WWhat is your prediction for the next big interior design trend? In an age of overwhelming information, people are craving spaces and designs that are tranquil and grounding. There is a demand for more pared-back designs in a country style, as well as an increased demand for sustainable products. WThe design pitfall to avoid? Beige. Live a little ? it will pay off. WIf you could live in anyone?s house, whose would it be and why? The White House. Maybe not living there right now, but generally I?d love to be a fly on the wall. WWhen decorating, what do you splurge on? It tends not to be a specific area or item, but rather when I see a great product that fits perfectly with the vision for a room ? and paint, of course. WWhat would you save on? I don?t like overpaying for items, so I?ll try to be cost-effective on everything by sourcing a range of products at different price points and then making a decision. The bigger the selection you have, the more cost-effective you can be. W The best piece of design advice you have received? If something feels incomplete, it?s likely that you haven?t incorporated enough layering. Try adding a few layers and see how it transforms the space. W What is your favourite thing about your home? It feels like my home when I walk in. Anna Temkin Left: Tom Dixon chair, listed on Eporta. Above: Aneeqa Khan 8 Bricks & Mortar 1GP Friday September 8 2017 | the times COVER STORY A revival in the countryside Carol Lewis reports on the townies who are falling back in love with rural homes, despite the higher stamp duty bills T he market for homes in the country has been subdued with property values rising by only 0.2 per cent in the year to June, compared with 1 to 1.5 per cent in towns and cities. Yet this summer has been surprisingly busy, with people selling and moving out past the commuter belt in search of a rural idyll. Jeremy Campbell Harris, the head of the country house department at Humberts, says: ?July and August have been exceptionally busy, a rarity during the holidays. We didn?t have such a good spring because it was hijacked by the general election, but a lot of money has exchanged hands in August, which bodes very well for September.? Rupert Sweeting, the head of country house sales at Knight Frank, which forecasts growth of 1.5 per cent for prime country house prices this year, says: ?Stamp duty has meant that a lot of people have sat on their hands for the last year or two and prices have probably not risen by as much as they could have done. But we have seen a lot of sales in the past four to five months ? a clear sign that people have come to terms with the stamp-duty rises. So much so that we might see a shortage of properties in the autumn.? Peter Hughes, the head of residential for RH & RW W Clutton, based in West Sussex, says: ?Cottages are holding their price, and demand is steady. The ones that are sticking tend to be those that need a lot of work. There are still people buying for investment ent too ? they will buy two to o three-bedroom houses for up to �0,000 and get about �100 100 a month rent. Many of these people are renting themselves, some of them farmers. They want to get on to the property ladder and are tempted by cheap mortgages, but aren?t ready to live in the properties yet.? He adds: ?Some quite big country houses have been sold ?off market?. Many people think that they can achieve a slightly higher price this way. Often they don?t want people to know that they are moving or they don?t have anywhere to move to yet, so we quietly market them. We have seven or eight on our books like that at the moment.? In Scotland rural locations in Highland, Ayrshire, Argyll and Bute, Borders, and Dumfries and Galloway have experienced an increase in sales that exceeds elsewhere in the country, according to Savills. Malcolm Leslie, a partner in Strutt & Parker?s Edinburgh office, says: ?Rural family homes located within commuting distance of towns and cities remain much in demand. This is enhanced by proximity to good schools.? Located in the village of Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex, seven-bedroom Howard Lodge is o London exodus In a report on the Scottish property market, published today, Faisal Choudhry, the director of research for Savills Scotland, says: ?Country houses in Scotland?s regional locations now offer extraordinary value for money compared to properties both elsewhere in the UK and in Edinburgh. Wealthy home-grown buyers and those from outside Scotland beginning to take are beg advantage of this adva affordability, particularly affo in areas within easy reach of the cities. This re is evident in the number of o Savills buyers originating from outside o Scotland, which has Sc increased by 82 per cent inc compared with last year. comp ?As the t political challenges in Scotland have eased, London buyers are also ma making a comeback ? this against a backdrop of slowing houseprice growth in London due to increased levels of stamp duty taxation, mortgage regulation and the Brexit vote, which have left the local market more exposed This six-bedroom home in Knowl Hill, Berkshire, is on the market for �65 million. Inset left: a four-bedroom property in Tonbridge, Kent, is �95 million and comes with a two-bedroom cottage. Right: grade II* listed Ivy House in Corsham, Wiltshire, has nine bedrooms and is for sale at �5 million. All with Knight Frank The bungalow gets a 21st-century makeover thetimes.co.uk/property to uncertainty,? he adds. ?Value for money and quality of life are key drivers for such property buyers, including super-commuters who retain a London base close to where they work, but commute north to the family home in Scotland at weekends.? It is a pattern mirrored in the West Country. Campbell Harris says: ?There is also high demand in Somerset, Devon and Dorset from buyers from London. In Honiton, east Devon, for example, more than 60 per cent of calls on new instructions are from London and the southeast. They are moving mainly for schools and a change of lifestyle. In the past 18 months we have seen a big shift in people moving out to places they know or have a connection to ? it?s a very exciting time.? Country idyll Above and on the cover: grade II listed Peppercorn Cottage in Holt, Dorset, has three bedrooms and is with Humberts for �5,000 Lindsay Cuthill, the head of Savills? country department, says: ?An isolated country house down a muddy track doesn?t appeal much to those coming from an urban marketplace. They want internet access and proximity to a boutique coffee shop. And they want somewhere in great condition. Few want a project ? they want it and they want it now.? Tim Waring, a director at Dacre, Son & Hartley estate agency in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, agrees: ?The country house market is a lot slower than the markets in towns such as Harrogate and Ilkley. Families like to be in villages rather than rural. For instance, Kirkby Overblow, a village convenient for Leeds, Harrogate and York, is popular because it has a school, church, a couple of pubs and a strong community. Here �million will buy you a five-bedroom house with one to two acres of land.? Sweeting adds: ?The sweet spot for cottages is �0,000 to �25 million. It is so cheap to get a mortgage that people are fixing rates for five years and grabbing the opportunity to move. Many buyers are looking for a period property ? ideally a symmetrical rectory ? on the edge of a village, with from five to 15 acres of land, a barn, some additional accommodation, within a ten-minute drive of a station, with access to a good school ? and good internet connection.? the times | Friday September 8 2017 Bricks & Mortar 9 1GP THE GUIDE Why your house may be too big a partner at Knight Frank in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. Victoria Harrison, the editor of the home renovation and design platform Houzz recommends creating a yoga studio or meditation space. A gym could be a good investment, but the heavy equipment makes this best-suited to a ground-floor bedroom. Camilla Dell, the managing partner at Black Brick, a buying agency, likes the idea of incorporating a kitchenette into a top-floor bedroom to create a contained area for teenagers. Blake adds: ?We would also recommend converting a boxy fifth bedroom into a walk-in wardrobe with lighting and shelving. This may be done for less than �000.? The home-search expert Carol Peett, at West Wales Property Finders in Pembrokeshire, has the ultimate solution. ?If your house has five-plus bedrooms that buyers are put off by, turn this around by creating a space suitable to let and sell it as somewhere that can generate an income from advertising on Airbnb.? Unable to sell your home? Did you know that some families do not want five or more bedrooms, asks Jayne Dowle P on the market for �995 million with Savills Stamp duty effect Research by Savills shows that the price of top-end country houses has dropped by 5.1 per cent since the stamp duty changes in 2014, and manor houses by 0.8 per cent. Townhouses have risen in value by 11.5 per cent, cottages by 8 per cent, farmhouses by 3.4 per cent and rectories by 2.3 per cent. Cuthill says: ?The stamp duty rises were a further punch in the stomach for those outside London, who had not seen property values rise by much since 2007. And the data shows that prime country house prices have fallen as a result, although it doesn?t feel like that on the ground. Still, if somewhere is keenly priced and not compromised, there are more than enough buyers. And the market for smaller properties at around �0,000 has remained very robust. ? The rise in stamp duty has led to an increase in people wanting to lease out cottages, outbuildings, garages and land so that they can benefit from the stamp duty of 5 per cent for mixed-use properties, rather than pay the higher tax on residential properties, according to Campbell Harris and Sweeting. Campbell Harris says: ?Stamp duty has had an effect. Wealth emanates from central London, but people in London have been staying put for longer, preferring to stay and improve. Things are starting to move again, though, with people building stamp duty into their budgets. More people are saying they want to find their ?for ever house?; they don?t want to be moving ? and paying stamp duty again ? in five years? time.? However, there is no sign that the extra 3 per cent stamp duty on second homes has dampened enthusiasm for holiday homes and investment properties. Waring says: ?There are second-home buyers, some with northern money and some with southern, many looking to have a house somewhere that they have family links and others [want] holiday lets, particularly on the coast ? Whitby, Scarborough and Filey, for instance.? eople swoon when you tell them that you?re selling a five-bedroom house. How lovely, they say. Think of the space for children, the potential for guests. However, Britain?s ?ideal home? for buyers now has just 3.5 bedrooms, according to the property website Zoopla. With the market in some areas almost static, sellers are forced to face a counterintuitive fact: abundant bedrooms can be a curse. Would a four-bedroom-plus-study property sell better than a five-bedroom family home? Yes, says Anne-Marie Desborough, of Dexters estate agency in Richmond upon Thames. ?I would say that the optimum number of bedrooms is three or four. Your average Richmond family has two children, so five or six bedrooms seems a little wasteful.? Hugh Blake, an associate partner at Carter Jonas in Cambridge, says affordability is a determining factor nationwide. ?All too often, the vendors of five and six-bedroom homes are too ambitious in what they think their property is worth. In the current market overpricing is an immediate deterrent to buyers, who simply aren?t prepared to overstretch themselves. ?When it comes to larger properties, the pounds per square foot value is largely determined by the first 2,500 sq ft. This is elevated by a good-sized main reception room, kitchen, and four generous bedrooms; the fifth and sixth bedrooms contribute to a fraction of a property?s overall value.? There is also the question of perception. Are buyers really looking for a certain number of bedrooms ? or rather a house of particular dimensions? ?Since all the houses now have floor plans, the gross internal floor area has become much more important to buyers than number of bedrooms,? says Giles Lawton, a partner at Strutt & Parker in Oxford. ?In the old days buyers would say they wanted five bedrooms, but what they meant was they needed three rooms to sleep in and two studies, or a house of a certain size.? So what can you do to present an ?over-bedroomed? home in the best light? 0 Four, five or six? You must establish what is attractive to your target buyers. As Martin Bikhit, the managing director at the estate agency Kay & Co, points out, prime central London and grander parts of the home counties still attract buyers looking for a large number of bedrooms. Stock is low, so appeal is enhanced. He says that fewer than 30 properties are for sale in W1 with five-plus bedrooms. ?When one does become available it often gets snapped up quickly as wealthy individuals seek homes that can accommodate family members and staff.? In rural areas too, such as Yorkshire, the Cotswolds and Cornwall, agents report that farmhouses and period properties with five or six bedrooms are Turn a small bedroom into an extra bathroom ? the one above is by Drummonds. Below: cedar bedroom cupboard by Plain English, from �000 ?Create a space suitable to let that can generate an income if advertised on Airbnb? perennial favourites with professional families and relocating buyers. However, in popular ?town? locations, four bedrooms is optimal, five at the most. ?Buyers in Oxford tend to want just one extra bedroom that can be used as a guest room, rather than lots of extra rooms,? says William Kirkland, a partner at Knight Frank in the university city. ?It?s a question of balance, however. They still want space to grow as they are likely to be borrowing, paying stamp duty land tax and therefore won?t want to move for a long time if they can help it.? 0 Too many bedrooms? Or not enough bathrooms? It could be that rather than having too many bedrooms, you don?t have enough bathrooms. If there is only one ?family bathroom? in a five-bedroom house, it makes sense to turn the smallest bedroom into an extra bathroom or en suite. For instance, a small middle bedroom can be transformed into a super-useful ?Jack and Jill? bathroom with access from each adjoining sleeping area. ?Add an actual bath if possible,? says Rupert Carr, a director at the Kensington estate agency Milton Stone. Other suggestions include a study, or two, as more people work from home. ?A spare room might also convert to a media or entertainment room, or a light room can create an excellent art studio or workshop,? says James Way, 0 Keep overall balance in your home Open-plan living has blown apart the old theories on the most desirable ratio of bedrooms to reception rooms. However, it?s important to ensure that the flow and space available for various functions convinces buyers. To achieve this Jamie Hope, the managing director at Maskells, suggests turning an extra bedroom with decent proportions into an elegant first-floor drawing room. Or follow the new-build sector and consider creating a family room, as Neil Simpson, the sales and marketing director at Bewley Homes, suggests: ?Homeowners [want] to utilise upstairs bedroom space as dedicated family or play rooms. This is so much the case that one of our house types in Witney, Oxfordshire, features a large first-floor room dressed as a family room, but it could just as easily be utilised as a master or twin bedroom.? Bear in mind the arrangement of rooms. If you wish to keep a guest room, is it in the right place? ?Ideally the master needs to be close to the children?s bedrooms, with number four as the guest/spare room,? says Alex Newall, the managing director at Barnes International. Even smaller homes can suffer from bedroom issues, adds Blake. ?If a three-bedroom house is sticking, it could be good to combine the second and third bedrooms into one super space.? 0 Must-haves to maximise appeal Space and storage are key. ?Beds have increased in size, so a master bedroom must now be large enough to accommodate a superking with ease,? says Peett. ?Another reason why it can be better to knock two bedrooms into one.? Add large wardrobes, bring in a dressing table and, if an en suite is not feasible, include a vintage washstand with sink and cupboard space instead. 0 Indulge at your peril For the total wow factor it could be tempting to transform a superfluous bedroom into an open-plan master suite, with freestanding bath and lavatory. This may be the epitome of glamour in a boutique hotel room, but it will add nothing to your home?s resale value, warns James Robinson, of the London mews specialist agency Lurot Brand. ?Unless your bedroom is palatial avoid the bath in bedroom idea ? and trust me when I say the only time an open-plan WC is acceptable is in a prison cell.? the times | Friday September 8 2017 Bricks & Mortar 11 1GP DEVELOPMENT ?Nobody wants a friend who comes for dinner to say that they have the same dining table? DAN KENNEDY Michelle Mone tells Anna Temkin about her bid to conquer Dubai and the world of decor T he desire for a mix of personal comfort and style led Baroness Mone to invent the Ultimo bra, the most noted item of underwear of the Noughties. Her latest venture, Michelle Mone Interiors, an interior design company for hotels and high-net-worth individuals, also evolved from her own needs. She has drawn on her experience of building and designing homes for herself and her three children. At her mansion in Thorntonhall, South Lanarkshire, she converted the three-car garage into a (predominantly pink) bar. ?I didn?t like going into the city centre of Glasgow because I?m a private person, but I love going to clubs, so I thought I?ll create one in my house,? Mone explains. The company?s residential projects include a development in Dubai where the apartments will be priced in bitcoin, the controversial digital currency that exists outside any regulatory framework or central bank support. There is also a � million estate on the Caribbean island of St Barts and a � million mansion in Belgravia, central London. Lovers of the minimalist aesthetic are not Mone?s target clientele. This is decor for people who want glamour, albeit in a restrained form. The mission statement is to deliver ?British-inspired elegance?, with an emphasis on tailor-made furniture and upholstery. The company has formed partnerships with a specialist ?I love going to clubs, so I thought I would create one in my house? fireplace supplier and the furniture provider for the Dorchester hotel, which will help to produce bespoke products for clients. Mone believes that people hire interior designers because they crave customisation. ?People want their homes to be individual and designed, and not have friends come for dinner who say they have the same dining table as you.? This week Mone and her partner, Michelle Mone?s clientele seek ?restrained? glamour in their designs Doug Barrowman, launched the �0 million scheme in Dubai. Although there has been a handful of sellers who have accepted payment for their homes in bitcoin, it is believed to be a first for a property developer. Payments in the cryptocurrency can be made within minutes over the internet, but concerns have been raised about the technology behind it, which enables transactions to be made anonymously. Aston Plaza and Residences will include a shopping mall and two towers housing 1,133 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom flats, with views over the Dubai Hills. ?The towers have been designed with community at their core and to cater to those looking for style, lifestyle and convenience,? says Mone, adding that they expect interest from young professionals and expats. The flats, she says, are being built ?to British quality?. Construction began last year and is due to finish in September 2019. The first residents are expected to move in by the end of that year. A swimming pool, gym, open-air cinema, children?s playground, and a pavilion for yoga and Pilates will be included. In the UK, a housing operator, the Collective, which runs rental schemes in London, accepts deposits in bitcoin. 14 Bricks & Mortar 1GP Friday September 8 2017 | the times THE GUIDE Raw hide V Vintage chesterfield button armchair in mocha, �1.50 maisonsdumonde.com U Balham leather chair, �9 dunelm.com A manor with front and rear gardens in Cowden, Kent, is �6 million (Strutt & Parker) Prepare your garden for a beautiful autumn U Drift occasional chair, �9 danetti.com I X RetroSit Black Harper armchair with steel frame, �5 modishliving.co.uk W Urbanville industrial lounge chair, �048 alexanderandpearl.co.uk U Dorigo pleated brown chair, �372 artisanti.com W Eichholtz Paolo armchair, �975 sweetpeaandwillow.com X Spencer wing chair in Sienna leather, �885 beaumontand fletcher.com Compiled by Holly Thomas X Bastille chair, �900 barkerandstone house.co.uk n September your garden is probably as full as it?s going to get: the perennials are at full height, the shrubs are fully grown and the branches bowed low. There may be far less colour than in high summer and there may be some fallen leaves on the lawn, but the overall impression is far from bad. This is not the moment to sit back, however, but to ensure that your garden is as attractive as possible during the autumn months and in the year ahead. You should appraise every aspect of your plot and ask yourself what would improve it. More space for colourful perennials? Shrubs less wedged together? Branches not swinging so low? Start compiling a list of winter jobs, such as redesigning borders. This is your checklist for tasks that need attention now. It is the perfect time to plant heathers, the largest of which you can use as a low, flowering hedge. Give them full light and a moist but well-drained soil (no clay) and set them 2-3cm lower than they were in the pot to encourage surface roots and stabilise them. Most need acid soil, but winter-flowering Erica carnea and Erica x darleyensis will cope with some lime. There are always shabby bits in the lawn at this time of year and now is the time to fix them, while the grass is still growing but the weather is more cool and moist. Worn patches can be fixed by replacing the turf or by aeration with a fork, scarifying the surface with a wire rake, and lightly overseeding. Broken-down edges can be peeled back and fresh soil packed underneath or, if necessary, a new bit of turf slotted in. Did you keep pots of bulbs from last spring? Time to empty them out and replant them, either in fresh compost or in the ground. Second-year bulbs are never as strong as when you first bought them, and new ones always make for a more reliable display. The old ones can go in the ground, where it is not so obvious if they are less floriferous. Colchicum bulbs (autumn crocuses) are on sale now, potted or dry, often in flower, and they can be planted in borders or rough grass. Old clumps are visible as they pop up to flower, and you can lift and divide the clumps while they are in flower. Replant them singly. As a rule the more expensive the bulb (eg double, white) the less vigorous it is, however beautiful, so when buying for a display in grass go for the cheap ones, which will thrive and build up there. Nerines are coming up to flower ? the brightest of the autumn bulbs, and early this year. Make sure to get the dead leaves away first to show them off properly. If you buy bulbs in flower, plant them in full sun in the driest soil you have. An Agapanthus inapertus of the subspecies pendulus, below, should be part of your autumn planting programme. I prefer this elegant species to all others because it flowers later than the rest, giving you colour in September ? to the envy of neighbours. Inapertus means unopen; the tubular flowers do not ssplay wide into trumpets. Pen Pendulus speaks for itself ? th the lower tubes hang down. M My favourite varieties are G Graskop, a thrilling m midnight blue; Black M Magic, which is darker sti still; and Alba, a vigorous whi white form. S teph Anderton Stephen Once the deceased?s estate is distributed the position is more complicated. The heirs become the new landlords from the moment they are registered as proprietors with the Land Registry. Strictly speaking, the tenants are liable to pay rent to them from that point on. However, section 3 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires a new landlord to give formal written notice of his or her name and address before the next rent day or within two months. Moreover, a similar but separate obligation exists under section 48 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 to provide the tenants with an address in England or Wales to which they may serve notices on the landlord. Failure to comply with section 3 is a criminal offence, and failure to give notice under section 48 of the 1987 act means the rent is treated as not being due to the landlord until the notice is given. The tenants must therefore pay rent to the personal representatives until you are registered as the new owner. You can collect the rent yourself once you have given formal written notice. Mark Loveday The writer is a barrister with Tanfield Chambers. Email your question to: email@example.com ASK THE EXPERT I have inherited a property that is tenanted under an assured shorthold tenancy agreement. What is the position with rent? The starting point is that a tenant must pay rent to their landlord throughout the term of the letting. The tenancy does not end simply because the landlord dies. On death, the Administration of Estates Act 1925 provides that a person?s freehold and leasehold property passes to his or her personal representatives (ie the executors appointed under a will, or the administrators if there is no will). The procedure is automatic and the personal representatives do not have to be registered formally as owners. The personal representatives may collect or sue for rent ? whether the rent was due before or after the landlord?s death.