Tips For A Tidy Home

Keeping on top of a tidy home – especially with messy inhabitants (spouse, kids, pets) can be a bit of a challenge.   You start off the week with every good intention of keep it spik and span but we all know that can go to pot quite easily.  The weather change and half term looming can strike fear into the most organised of people at this time of year – even Mary Poppins might struggle, but fear not, Davis Brown has come to the rescue yet again with a few easy tweaks.

Boudoir

It might sound simple but make your bed as soon as you get up –that’s one job down immediately!

Wardrobe

Organise your outfit the night before, that way you avoid the stress and likely mess resulting from a last minute wardrobe panic!  Hang your clothes up as soon as you step out of them (as opposed to dumping them on the floor and creating a mess.)

Kitchen

Clear the kitchen of clutter and do the washing up in the evening;  I don’t know about you but if I’m faced with a piles of washing up  in the morning it puts me in a very bad mood!  Plus you don’t need to use much elbow grease to get rid of greasy pots and pans straight after use – leaving it until the morning; well you’re just asking for trouble!

Laundry

Start a wash cycle as soon as you get home, this will give you time to dry and put away all the laundry before you go to bed.

Bathroom

Clean as you go along.  A little bit each day stops any sizeable build-up of grime and dirt so you won’t be faced with a huge unsurmountable task at the end of the week.   It’s helpful to keep a squeegee in the bathroom so you can clean your shower screen after each use.

Bags, keys & coats

Keep them all in the same spot so you can simply grab and go!

Pets

Got a furry pet whose moulting tons of hair?  Just run a squeegee over rugs to draw out hair and fluff in seconds, or get yourself a rubber brush – this ingenious thing can be used on carpets, tiles and wooden floors and windows.  And while we’re on the subject of pets – dirty dogs…oh the pure dread of coming back home after a muddy walk with the pup!  Get yourself a Dogrobe – an easy and quick way to dry your dog and keep him warm at the same time, you just pop it on and it does the work for you!

Children

Purge….ruthlessly (I’m not suggesting getting rid of your kids, just some of their belongings).  Piles and piles of unused toys and clothes can easily build up over a short space of time, so why not take one toy and piece of clothing each week that your children have grown out of to a charity shop?

“The best way to get something done is to begin it.”  Said somebody wise.

BROOMPIC

London on the Silver Screen

The 60th BFI London Film Festival is in full swing; some say it’s the biggest, brightest and best event in the capital’s film-goers calendar, screening everything from swanky star-studded red carpet Hollywood premiers to the very best in world cinema.   You can still get your hands on last minute tickets by heading to bfi.org.uk (but hurry as it all comes to an end on Sunday).    

I for one am a huge fan of cinema, and as you may have realised by now – a huge fan of my home city, so when I see any part of London up there on the big screen I feel proud, excited and a little bit emotional!  London has played a starring role in many blockbuster movies thanks to its awesome skyline, atmospheric streets and royal palaces. 

London galleries have proved popular with film location managers, with the Tate Modern being featured in several films – Match Point (Scarlett Johansson), Children of Men (Michael Caine) and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (Ewan McGregor).  The Portrait Restaurant at the National Portrait Gallery was featured in the Julia Roberts’ brilliant film Closer.   

Numerous London icons have often been featured, our red phone boxes and double decker buses, Big Ben and London’s spectacular bridges have featured in The Da Vinci Code, Bond’s Skyfall, and in 28 Days Later Jim – the protagonist walks across a deserted Westminster Bridge in one earie scene with the Houses of Parliament behind him. 

Leafy Greenwich has played host to the epic riot scenes in the live film version of Les Miserables (Eddie Redmayne), as well as the opening carriage chase in Pirates of the Caribbean (Jonny Depp – as if you needed the reminder).   

Trafalgar Square – home to Nelson’s Column and what seems to be London’s pigeon population –is possibly the world’s most recognisable landmark and was bound to pop up in a film or two – Captain America, St Trinian’s  and the Tom Cruise film Edge of Tomorrow, to name but three.    

The film Notting Hill shows, well Notting Hill in all its glory!  Portobello Road, Notting Hill Coronet cinema, and of course that now extremely famous book shop to which tourists flock. 

Now I couldn’t let our dear old Tube go without a mention – us commuters may have a love/hate relationship with it but we’d be lost without it!  It played a key role in Gwyneth Paltrow’s character’s fate in Sliding Doors.  That soppiest of romcoms Love Actually included scenes on the London underground too and scenes from The Bourne Identity with Matt Damon were shot in Charing Cross underground station.  

Lastly but by no means least, if you find yourself at a certain train platform in Kings Cross station you might discover a bit of magic, but not any old magic – a bit of Harry Potter magic….

HARRYPIC 

 

Davis Brown’s Tips for Tipples!

If you have your fingers on the pulse of what’s going on in London, you will have noticed that this week has been London Cocktail Week, and until Sunday you can purchase a £10 wristband which entitles you to £5 cocktails in some of the best bars in London.  Whether your preference is a Chocolate Old Fashioned at Gymkhana in Mayfair, or a Marsala Martini at Bar Termini in Soho, this is your week to experience something new, wonderful and maybe even a bit weird in the world of cocktails.  I couldn’t let London Cocktail Week pass us by without imparting some of our (extremely well-versed, alcoholic) knowledge on cocktail venues in our local surrounding areas.  The Davis Brown office is lucky enough to be situated in one London’s most happening neighbourhoods – Fitzrovia, where we are spoilt for choice for places to eat, drink and be merry!  

So where on earth do you start?!  Let’s start with Rev JW Simpson on Goodge Street.  Firstly, it’s not easy to find.  Secondly you will need to make several trips to try all of the delicious and deadly concoctions!  There’s a great history behind this bar – it used to be a brothel and the décor hasn’t changed much since!  A must-try cocktail is the French Martini (suggested by Davis Brown’s Francophile Sarah-Jane), Chambord, vodka, fresh pineapple juice & raspberry liqueur.  (note to self: MUST visit Rev JW Simpson). 

Next we have Ice Bar on Heddon St.  A completely different vibe! Rumour has it you are given a faux fur coat on arrival.  Our cocktail of choice there is a Summer Breeze (ironic) with vodka, cranberry and grapefruit.  Georgie our Commercial Property & Investment Agent wants to let you know “It’s really cool!” Nice one Georgie…. 

London Gin Club on Great Chapel Street, W1 – a visit is imperative if you are a fan of gin (so says David-one of our Valuers.).  Gin has overtaken vodka in popularity in recent years and you will understand why when you taste their gin fusions. 

Next up we have the Covent Garden Cocktail Club.   It’s a member’s only bar, but membership is …wait for it…free!  It’s a clever idea as it stops people coming in off the street which means it never gets too crowded.  John our graduate Surveyor ….says the Buck ‘n Grind (their version of the Espresso Martini) is second to none, and if you get there at the right time you can bag yourself a BOGOF!  

Another bar/restaurant that does the perfect negroni (Campari, gin, vermouth) is Remedy in Cleveland Street, Fitzrovia.  A Mediterranean hideaway with amazing food to follow your favourite aperitif!   

I’ve only just touched the tip of the iceberg, so much more to discover, and being Cocktail Week, no better time to imbibe, so go out and make merry this weekend!cocktailpic 

Top Five Interiors Trends This Winter

The days are getting shorter and temperature is dropping and suddenly those bright, zesty coloured cushions and pineapple ornaments just don’t seem appropriate anymore.  As estate agents in central London, we like to keep our fingers firmly on the interior trends pulse so we thought we would give you our top five favourite fashions for your home this autumn and winter.3

  1. Dark blue; think velvet and satins in a deep indigo, or a luxurious throw in a sumptuous ink. Highlights of an ‘in colour’ can bring your property right up to date instantly …
  2. Shades of grey; there is nothing more chic than a mixture of soft greys in a variety of textures in one room. A light grey faux fur throw with contrasting dark grey cushions on a mid-grey sofa will give your property the ultimate edge this winter.
  3. Touches of marble; Subtle and elegant, marble has long been a key ingredient to any stylish home. This winter, it’s all about small accents – a marble clock mounted on a crisp white wall, chunky candle holders on a glass dining table.  The key is not to overdo it, and keep your marble touches delicate and understated.
  4. Lamps; big lamps, small lamps, table lamps, floor lamps… the nights are drawing in and it’s getting darker earlier in the evening. Lamps are the perfect way to create the perfect lighting in any property.  Use them to draw focus to feature furniture and highlight your accent colours.  The trick to this trend is more is more; mix and match quirky industrial floor uplighters with traditional black iron table lamps.
  5. Metals; whilst metals have been trending for a while, they are still firmly in our top five winter trends – everything metal is where it’s at. Picture a brass 70s drinks trolley, reclaimed wooden side tables with iron legs, and copper bowls for your Christmas fruit and chestnuts.  This is such a fun winter trend and is a super easy way to inject subtle colours and up to date interiors in to any property.

Happy Boroughs of London!

Richmond, Redbridge and Newham – these were at the top of this year’s “London’s Happiest Boroughs” list.  I’m happy to say that Londoners’ happiness has apparently increased over the last year too, not surprising as you just can’t not love this exciting city!  Here at Davis Brown Estate Agents in W1, there are several of us who live in London and I’ve been finding out what makes us happy about the areas we live in. 

John Eden – Davis Brown’s Graduate Surveyor.

I moved from Battersea in February to a 1 bed garden flat in Maida Vale.  So far it’s been great living there – it’s within the borough of Westminster and did you know that residents of Westminster get a 50% discount on Zip Cars?!  Now that makes me happy!  Living central doesn’t mean there’s a lack of green spaces – quite the opposite, we have plenty of parks nearby which is great in the Summer months.  I love living so central as I can take advantage of all the fantastic galleries in town (a hobby of mine), plus it makes the commute into the office in Fitzrovia almost pain free! 

Emma How – Director at Davis Brown and Manager of the Residential Department.

I live in Clapham which falls in to the borough of Lambeth.  I’ve lived here for around 5 years, in a second floor Georgian grade II listed building.  It’s a great place to live and I’ve seen many changes to the area in the time I’ve lived here.  It’s a foodie’s paradise with new cafes and restaurants opening all the time –we even have a couple of Michelin star eateries too.  Markets at the weekend selling artisan breads and cakes give Clapham a friendly community vibe.  The common plays host to several festivals in the Summer months which are always great fun.  It’s a clean borough on the whole and that’s not to be sniffed at!  

Hannah Cull – Receptionist at Davis Brown.

I live in Tooting Bec, on the 6th floor of a purpose built block in the borough of Wandsworth.  I have lived in my flat for 11 years and in the surrounding area for around 18. The views from my kitchen are superb with the London skyline clearly visible on a sunny day (which makes the washing up not such a chore!). Over the years I have seen huge changes in the area, all for the better.  I love the indoor market at Tooting Broadway, it’s forever evolving and I love to potter around and discover new shops and restaurants. Opposite is Tooting Bec common where there is so much to do;  we’ve got tennis courts, the Lido and a lovely café where I go and have a cuppa with fellow dog walkers at the weekend.   

Tony Guerguis – Director and Chartered Surveyor at Davis Brown.

I live in Ealing – in the borough of Ealing (funnily enough!), in a converted flat.    It has a laid back atmosphere and doesn’t feel like you’re living in London.  There are lovely houses within tree lined streets, and plenty of open spaces.  Transport links are great, so getting into work is pretty easy.    

So there we have it, we are all advocates for our own boroughs, but overall we just love London town!

HAPPINESSPIC

 

Lost in London? We’re Here to Help!

As Estate Agents in the West End, and big fans of this fantastic City, we pride ourselves in keeping up to date on everything we possibly can do from new restaurants to the best phone apps, so of course we know London like the back of our hand!  From taking the tube to appointments in Covent Garden, to bussing it up to Marylebone, to hot-footing it all around Fitzrovia we’ve got this city sussed!  However, we often have foreign tenants who have very little knowledge of London and we like to impart the knowledge we have so we can help to make their time in London the best it can possibly be! London can be a pretty daunting place for new comers and so we thought we would put together a list of what we think are the most useful apps out there, from travelling about to grabbing a bite to eat.

City Mapper

For estate agents and tourists alike! If you download only one app, this has got to be it.  We often get asked to view new properties in streets we may have never been to before, and City Mapper plans the whole route from start to finish, from wherever you may be to wherever you need to get to and you will never have to use a bulky paper street map again!

London Underground Map

Whilst City Mapper will work out your route on the underground, the London Underground map is always a useful addition to your apps; a quick glance and you can work out what line you need and in which direction.  Top tip: if you use the route planner, it tells you the exact duration of your journey!

Bus Mapper

Bus Mapper is a simple and easy to use navigation tool, using buses only for your journey.  London has got so much to see so if you’re not in a hurry (London traffic can be dreadfully slow!),  taking a bus is a great way to a more scenic approach to your travel.

Google Maps

Does what it says on the tin! Type in anywhere and Google Maps will find it and get you to it!

AboutMe

This app is an absolute gem – it finds you using your location and then tells you what’s around you within a certain radius.  As estate agents, we think it’s always important for our applicants to know what’s local to the property they are renting or buying; whether you’re after a quirky café close to your flat in Fitzrovia or a yoga class near you in Marylebone, this app will find it for you.

Uber

As seasoned travellers of the city, we estate agents know that the likelihood of getting rained on in London is pretty high, so this app is great to have on standby.  Pop in your location and destination and a driver will turn up.  Top tip: click on the fare estimate button to get an idea of how much your journey is going to cost!

Google Translate

The English language can be pretty confusing – we know that! Whether you’re trying to order your morning coffee, or booking your tickets for Madame Tussauds, Google Translate can fill in the gaps for you.  Pop in the word or sentence you’re after and it will generate it in English… or any other language for that matter!

XE Currency

Constant updates mean that XE Currency is always on point when it comes to exchange rates – keep an eye on this whilst you’re away to ensure you know what you are spending.

TripIt

Genius! A pocket organiser for your trip, this app brings together information from your emails of flights, hotels, cars, bookings etc. and compiles it in to one simple itinerary.  Forward the relevant emails to the app and let it do its magic! This app is especially useful when you’ve got lots of things organised in a short space of time.

LiveTrekker

For those of you who like to track your travels, this app creates a journal of your holiday, tracking you on an interactive map.  This app is great for using whilst you’re away, but also creates a fun momento to remember your travels.

Time Out London

A great app that really has its finger on the London pulse!  Will give you the latest updates of the best restaurants, theatre, cultural excursions,  and everything else London has to offer!

MAPPIG2

Installing Wooden Floors in your Leasehold Property

Wooden flooring is a product in popular demand these days with many property owners considering it to be an attractive and lower maintenance option, particularly those buy-to-let investors.

As Estate Agents in central London, we have witnessed a variety of different products from laminate to solid wood and in a range of colours and patterns.

So what do you need to consider?  With the help and advice from our surveyors, agents and property managers, we have put together a short guide to help you with your decision.

Firstly and most importantly, are you a long leasehold owner? 

If you hold a long lease on a flat or apartment and want to remove your carpets and install wooden flooring, it is essential that you first ascertain whether you require permission to do so.

Your lease may have restrictive covenants on floor coverings and Freeholder consent for this type of work may be required.  Graham King, from our Residential Management Department, recommends checking with your Freeholder or their managing agents first.  It may save you a considerable amount of money and a lot of conflict.  Noise complaints between flats without adequate acoustic insulation are very common and before you know it, you may find yourself paying for acoustic testing to appease the neighbours below you, and then having to lift your new floor to install more insulation or worse yet to remove the wooden flooring and go back to carpets!

Some leases may require a licence to alter (fees will probably be applicable) and if so you will need to advise your managing agent/Freeholder on the following:

–              What type of flooring is proposed (see some options below)

–              Specifications on the type and thickness of the proposed acoustic insulation

–              Details of your chosen contractor and their method statement

 

LAMINATE VS. VINYL

 Laminate flooring is a multi-layer synthetic floor. The top layer is a photographic high resolution image of wood.  All the layers are fused together by lamination.

Laminate flooring is cost effective, easy to fit and easy to clean.  It is a perfect product for busy homes as it takes a lot of wear and tear.   However, it can be slippery surface, particularly when wet. Laminate cannot tolerate pools of water and is therefore not particularly suitable for bathrooms and kitchens.  In the event of a water leak or heavy scratches and grooves, laminate will most likely need to be replaced.

 

Davis Brown’s laminate brand love – PERGO

http://www.pergo.co.uk/en-GB/laminate-flooring.

Established over 30 years ago, Pergo has a range of styles and colours to choose from. Alternatively, any DIY store stocks laminate flooring.

 

Vinyl is hard wearing, low maintenance and water resistant product. It is softer and tends to be more comfortable under foot. Vinyl is softer and warmer underfoot than laminate. There are three types of vinyl floors:

  1. Vinyl sheet – can cover most rooms in one piece. However, it is difficult to install yourself and you cannot have underfloor heating due to the adhesive to secure the floor in place.
  2. Vinyl tile or plank – the joins between each tile create more a natural look. They come in a range of colours and designs – you can even mix and match your colours!  Again, due to the adhesive, you cannot have underfloor hearting.
  3. Luxury vinyl – a thicker, more robust tile which typically comprises of four layers.  The top layer has a urethane or polyurethane layer which projects the tile from scratches and wear and tear. Luxury vinyl can be used with underfloor heating.

 

Davis Brown’s Vinyl brand love: KARNDEAN – http://www.karndean.com/en-gb/floors

What was once a small family run business, Karndean is a global specialist in luxury vinyl flooring. They provide a range of styles, colours and looks

 

ENGINEERED WOOD VS. SOLID WOOD

Engineered wood is made up of layers of plywood and topped with a layer of hardwood which gives the look and feel of solid wood flooring.   This means you can choose from a number of wood types.  Engineered wood has a high resistance to temperature and moisture and it is therefore suitable for underfloor heating, kitchens and bathrooms. However, you can only sand it down a number of times.

Solid wood floors, is as it sounds – single pieces of timber cut into various sizes and thickness.  Solid wood floors looks truly stunning and are a big selling point when selling or letting.  They can be sanded down many times and therefore last a lifetime. They do not have a good resistance to moisture and temperature and therefore are not recommend in conjunction with underfloor heating, kitchens and bathrooms.

 

Davis Brown Wood Flooring brand love – Natural Wood Floor Company

http://www.naturalwoodfloor.co.uk/

Based in Wandsworth, London, The Natural Wood Floor Company has it all. From engineered to solid wood and in numerous types and colours.

 

STYLE & DESIGN

The style and design of your flooring is equally as important as the product itself. A simple plank will be a classic for years to come, however we are seeing more intricate and interesting designs.  The herringbone parquet is a traditional setting while the inlaid parquet can create an art deco style.

Stories behind Street Names

Have you ever noticed the name of a street and wondered where on earth it got its name from?!  There are so many unusual ones in and around London, and with London’s rich history it’s quite fascinating discovering where certain street names originated from.  Historically streets were often named after the goods that were being sold in that area – Bread Street, Poultry to name but two, other were named after the destination of a particular road.

As Estate Agents in W1, we are often running around the streets of the West End on viewings and have expert knowledge on the area, so thought we’d share the origins of some of our local street names with you.

Starting with Oxford Street – one of the largest shopping streets in the world, was so named in 1725 because – as you might guess – it was the road to Oxford; however, up until 1725 it was known as Tyburn Road which rather gruesomely led to the Tyburn Hanging Tree!

Piccadilly – another large shopping street in London’s West End, was named after a wide, decorated collar named the piccadill; this fashion item of the time made the fortune of a tailor called Robert Baker, and with that fortune he built himself a large property in the area and named it Piccadilly House.

Goodge Street was named after John Goodge – a carpenter.  His nephews developed what was Crab Tree Fields into a large road in 1740, and named it after their favourite Uncle John!

Romilly Street – a small side turning running behind Shaftsbury Avenue, takes it’s name from Samuel Romilly who successfully campaigned in the abolition of the death penalty for petty crimes in 1810.  A small side-street maybe, but what historical event!

Tottenham Court Road – so called because it was the road to Toten Hall – the court house of the area at the time, which was situated at the North West end of the road.

Charing Cross Road – a street famed for it’s bookshops, is named after the Queen Eleanor Memorial cross which stood on the site that was once the hamlet of Charing.  The site is now occupied by a statue of King Charles I riding a horse; it faces down Whitehall towards Banqueting House which was his place of execution.

And finally we have Hanway Street, Fitzrovia – it’s rumoured to have been named after the Portsmouth-born traveller who braved ridicule by first championing the use of an umbrella!  I can imagine that he must have looked a little unusual with this new contraption which protected from the rain, but with our British weather I’m very thankful he did!

westendpic

Keen on Kentish Town? You Should Be!

Exciting opportunity alert!  Davis Brown Commercial and Residential Property Agents are bringing to the market a mixed use freehold development site with a resolution to grant planning for residential and commercial use, situated in Kentish Town.

As Estate Agents in London we like to keep our ears to the ground for exciting areas popping up around the capital. Kentish Town (NW5), situated in the north west of London is one of these areas, and if you’re not familiar with the area I’d get acquainted with it ASAP!  It’s one of those places where you may not have thought to visit or live but it’s becoming increasingly popular, so if you’re thinking of moving here it could be a great place to invest.    Whether it’s culture, outdoor space, food or socialising you’re after, you will not be short of things to do in Kentish Town!     

Eating out is easy in Kentish Town, you have an array of gastro pubs and old boozers to choose from including The Grafton, Southampton Arms, Junction Tavern, and for a good quiz, cheese and gossip head to The Pineapple!   There are good cheap restaurants such as Stingray – a lovely family run restaurant serving delicious pizzas and other Italian fayre.    The Chicken Shop does what it says on the tin – a delicious restaurant with chicken being the main focus served with mouth-watering sides.   Its popularity has demanded it open many other Chicken Shops in other parts of London, but Kentish Town was the first ever Chicken Shop!  Pizza East is a funky establishment serving – yes you’ve guessed it – pizza!  Both the Chicken Shop and Pizza East are part of the trendy Soho House group.  

The Kentish Town Forum, built in 1934 it’s an art deco building  which was originally used as a cinema; it’s now a world famous concert venue, playing host to many popular bands.   

If you’re looking to get out and about, breathe in some fresh air and walk on grass you’re not far from Hampstead Heath.  A huge, beautiful open space to go and relax on a summer’s day, or for the astronomists of you there is the Whitestone Pond Observatory – the only one in London.  

For retail therapy there are a number of quirky shops around, including the Dandy Lion Market – a monthly fixture at The Oxford pub, selling all things vintage which takes place on the first Saturday of each month.   

For the culture vultures you have the NW5 art trail!  A few small local galleries housing some fantastic art, to while away your weekends. 

And if that’s not enough Kentish Town even has its own farm! So there we have it, London works its magic yet again!   KTPIC 

79 Beak Street and John Wilkes Gun Makers

You might be wondering why Estate Agents would be talking about gun makers, but it’ll all become clear very soon… Davis Brown Estate Agents has roots dating back to 1900, so we love to know the history of the properties that we let and sell –wherever in London that might be!  Some areas have a really interesting history and knowing the history can add to the fascination of a property or area, and the story of Number 79 Beak Street is truly fascinating.  This unique grade II listed building is noted for its special architectural and historical interest but not only that, it was also home to one of the last gun makers of Soho.  

John Wilkes Gun maker’s first started trading as a pistol maker in 1820 in Birmingham however it was not until 1894 that the shop was moved to London.  Its first location in the capital was a shop at Number 1 Lower James Street in Soho – the area John Wilkes would eventually remain for over a century.  Moving on from making only pistols, the firm expanded into making rifles – producing up to 100 a year.  

Production slowed during World War I however the company survived and in 1925 the shop moved to what would be its final shop at 79 Beak Street.  Set over three floors, this traditional 18th century terraced house was converted to a shop with two floors of workspace.  Steeped in history and tradition, by the end of the 1900s, the shop became locally famous for its gun-making artefacts and relics.  Here John Wilkes explored a new type of gun craft, focusing on high quality guns and rifles with intricate and ornate decoration.  As the focus moved from quantity to quality, production dropped to only 100 guns in the last 30 years of trading on Beak Street.   

In 2000, John Wilkes made, what must have been an emotional decision to leave Beak Street after so long in the area.  Taking years to clear out, the building was not vacated until July 2003. 

79 Beak Street is now home to three flats with an art gallery on the ground floor.  Davis Brown has let these flats for over a decade and the building is a personal favourite amongst our negotiators for it’s unique history and original, period features.   

If you’re looking to rent or purchase a flat in Soho, Davis Brown Estate Agents are here to help!  Please get in touch with Emma or Sarah-Jane on 0207 637 1066. 

Beak Street 79 F1 - ext