New Year Resolutions (for your home!)

Do you ever have the feeling that you’re not making the most of your home? It’s easily done, neglecting the cleaning, ignoring the odd touch up jobs needed on the walls, cupboards full to the brim…the list goes on and we are all guilty!  Here at Davis Brown, our Estate Agents, Chartered Surveyors and Property Managers have discussed our worst home habits, and have come up with a short list of Five Property New Year’s Resolutions.  Maybe we will stick to them this year!

  1. Keep up with the cleaning

We all know it’s a bore, and not something that any of us look forward to however as Estate Agents, Davis Brown know what a difference a regular clean can make.  In the short term, it keeps your place looking tidy and smelling fresh, and in the long term it avoids decolouration and build up.  Little and often is our motto!

  1. Fix things when they break

…instead of leaving them until you have a list as long as your arm!  It’s very easy to put something that’s broken to the side and promise yourself you’ll do it later.  However, these small bits of DIY soon add up, and before you know it that door knob that needs screwing back on, is followed by tightening a leaky tap…a touch up on the paint work in the hall…replacing several lightbulbs.

  1. Clear out your cupboards twice a year

A clear space is a clear mind! There are few things more stressful than opening a cupboard and realising that the thing you need is right at the back, behind other precariously stacked items.  The way to avoid these spontaneous games of Jenga is to clear those overfilled cupboards out twice a year – once in the Spring and once in the Autumn.  Be ruthless and it’ll save you a lot of stress in the long run!

  1. Find a proper home for odd bits…or create a junk drawer!

This follows on from resolution 3 – put things back where they belong.  In a mission to keep our properties looking tidy, it’s very easy to shove things into the nearest cupboard or cubby hole, just to get them out of sight.  However, this is only a temporary solution! The reality is that in no time at all, you’ll be cursing yourself when you can’t find it, or kicking yourself when there’s no room left for the items that actually belong in your temporary hiding place!  Saving you more work in the long run, it’s much easier to put things back in their proper place each and every time you use them.

  1. Utilities – are you being cost effective?

After an expensive time over Christmas, January is a great time to take a good look at your utilities and work out what you’re paying, who to and whether it’s the correct amount. It’s often worth spending some time on comparison websites and seeing what deals are out there.  A great way to try and reduce your energy bills is to sign up to The Big Community Switch.   So if you haven’t made any resolutions so far, I hope these might inspire you!


Dressing The Christmas Table

The tree’s looking pretty, the presents are wrapped, the food and booze has all been bought – now you can put your feet up and relax with a festive glass of sherry and a mince pie….that is if you haven’t skipped thinking about the Christmas table decorations!  We eat from our table most days of the year so dressing it up in the spirit of Christmas is what makes lunch on the 25th December special!    Whatever your taste, there are endless ways to make your table shiny and bright & here are just a couple..

Festive Forest Feast!


Some people love to go foraging for holly and berries, tree bark, twigs and pine cones – bringing the outside in – and with a bit of glitter and silver or gold spray paint it can give the table a really special feel.  You can get really creative with these materials that nature gave us, and the more over the top you go, the more magical your table will look!  Red or green ribbon tied onto twigs is another easy and effective way to Christmas-up your table. If you don’t live near somewhere that you can go foraging, you can buy plastic alternatives that do just as good a job. 

Scandi Chic Supper!


A less frenetic style than the above, Scandi chic is all about the white and the silver and the monochrome, and is still holding it’s own in the style stakes.  A crisp white napkin with your guests’ initials embroidered into it using a silver thread, some antler horn style candle stick holders, icicles and snowflakes doted around the table, and even a pine cone or two sprayed white, silver chargers under a large white dinner plate will give you a sophisticated Scandi table.

The Minimalist’s Meal!

If you’re a fan of “less is more”, there’s no reason why you can’t go down the minimal route on Christmas day!  A subtle accent here and there around the table is sometimes all you need.  A mason jar with a string of white lights inside can be an attractive centrepiece, or a large red pillar candle can bring the warmth and cosiness every festive table shouldn’t be without.

Another top tip that I love to use is to get yourself an electric diffuser (Muji does a great one) and some seasonally-scented essential oils (cinnamon, pine, orange) and put that on first thing in the morning to give your home that beautiful scent of Christmas!

However you choose to dress your Christmas table an absolute must to include is the crackers! The history behind the cracker goes like this… they were first created by a London sweet maker Tom Smith around 1845.  He was inspired by the pretty wrapped almonds that the French would give, so he decided  to try and sell similar sweets wrapped up with a riddle or joke – this however, wasn’t to be a success story!  This didn’t damped Tom’s spirits, and one night while sitting in front of the fire watching it spark and crackle he had his eureka moment – what fun it would be if his sweets and toys were to be opened with a bang when their fancy wrappers were pulled in half!   And the rest is history!

The Three Ps for AirBnB

With today’s technology, gadgets and gismos, we are in an era where we can list our home on an online marketplace in all of about 5 minutes and make a quick buck or two which might pay for some of that Christmas excess we’ve spent!

Founded in 2008, Air BNB has given us opportunity to advertise and book accommodation around the globe from your computer, mobile or tablet.  Air BNB has become a popular platform – it is easy to use, guest and hosts have profiles with scanned identification and reviews, payment transactions are taken through Air BNB and hosts are protected with up to £600,000 guarantee! Sounds pretty ideal right?  Right, however there are three important ‘permissions’ you must think about BEFORE you list your property on Air BNB.   

  1. Permission from your freeholder

If you own your property under a long lease, ownership of your home will be subject to the terms in the lease.  Most leases will include a clause requiring you to get permission before you can sublet your property.  Some leases may even prohibit short lets

  1. Permission from your lender

If you have a mortgage against your property, you will have a contractual obligation to inform your lender if you want to let your property out on a short term basis. Failure to do so is a breach in the contract.

  1. Permission from the council

As Estate Agents in the boroughs of Westminster and Camden, we cover properties in Fitzrovia, Bloomsbury, Marylebone, Covent Garden and Soho amongst more.  You will need planning permission if let your property where the cumulative total of all short-term lets of your property exceeds 90 nights in the same calendar year (i.e. 1 January to 31 December).

Davis Brown – as Chartered Surveyors and Estate Agents in London, we are able to offer you a unique service where we will let and manage your property on Air BNB so long as you have these important permissions granted! If you are considering letting your property on a short let basis, please contact us to discuss your options.

The Best of London’s Christmas Markets; North, South, East & West

It’s that time of the year again and Christmas is just around the corner.  The decorations are up, the festive songs are on and the presents are sitting under the tree.  If like us however, you’ve been too busy to even think about Christmas yet, here are the perfect markets in London to get you in the mood.


Islington Green is one of our favourite Christmas markets.  Each year it charms us and gets us right into the festive spirit.  With over 60 stalls to peruse, it’s great place to meet family and friends alike and with Santa’s Grotto featuring this year, your kids will never want to leave!

Camden is playing host to a more grown up style of Christmas market and we like it!  Every Thursday until 9pm, Camden market will have stalls, live music, hot cider and mulled wine on offer and with a different theme each week, who could say no?!


The Tate Modern is playing host to a huge market along the river, with a bevy of stalls selling all sorts of goodies.  A Victorian Carousel features and it adds the perfect amount of whimsical charm to this wonderful market.  If the Tate doesn’t quite satisfy your Christmas cravings, then head to the Southbank Centre afterwards for an indoor market with even more stalls of festive fancies!


To get your Eastern dose of festive fun, head over to Shoreditch.  Located at the Red Market in Old Street, The Shoreditch Christmas Crafts Market will be home to a variety of stalls showcasing local talent.  The focus is on celebrating the artistic skills of independent designers in the area and so you will definitely see more than just your average Christmas market gubbins on sale – think handmade handbags and jewellery workshops!


Leicester Square has outdone itself this year, and has installed a huge speilgetent (a big velvety tent!) which will be surrounded by traditional wooden huts and Christmas market stalls.  Not only is there plenty of shopping to be done, but the speilgetent will be hosting performances by La Soirée amongst other exciting acts.  If you are looking for Christmas market to make an evening of, this is the one!




Interior Trend Set To Take 2017 By Storm

Christmas is now over and we are into the year and so it’s time to start looking forward!  The summer is coming and with it a wave of new interiors colours and fashions – dusky pinks and navy blues are so 2016.  As estate agents and managing agents in central London, we like to keep our fingers firmly on the interior trends pulse.  To make it nice and easy for you, we have outlined the key trends for 2017.

  1. Terracotta

Think terracotta tiles are just for cottages in the country? Think again! Clinical white it out, and warm, welcoming terracotta is in.  For an instant update, this earthy, neutral tone is a perfect statement colour for a hallway.  For those of you with a little more time and money, replace your white, gloss metro tiles with large, matte terracotta ones to warm your kitchen up and bring it into 2017.

  1. Dark Green

Velvet and velour looks to set to stay at the top of our trend list in 2017, but the colours are getting an update.  Gone is the navy and enter dark green!  A deep, moody emerald green is exactly what we are talking about in rich velour.  This colour and fabric works best when used to re-cover a vintage sofa, but if that’s too daring for you, a couple of new cushions will do the trick!

  1. Cork

Oh so 70’s!  Epitomising the general trend of earthy colours and textures this year, cork is making a comeback.  Think a cork wall, teamed with dramatic black and scandi-style accents – not only a practical way to display notes and cards but also bang on trend!  Quick and easy update instead?  Buy a cheap cork pin board and paint the rim black!

  1. Primary Colours

Red, yellow and blue – basics are back!  This is a tricky one to get right, but done well and the effect will be amazing.  Don’t block a whole wall, instead block small areas – primary colours are dominating – you want to aim for dramatic hints instead of a tidal wave! Another idea is patterned wallpaper – a red and white basic repeat pattern print for example.

  1. Bringing the outside, in

House plants are EVERYWHERE.  Whether you’re a fan of leafy palms, chunky succulents or delicate ferns, this is one trend that everyone can do with ease.  The shops are filled with unique ways to display your plants…in a vintage apothecary jar or hanging from the ceiling in a black wire basket – however you want to do it, in this case more is more.  Mix different textures and colours and to get all the senses going, plant up herbs and spices aswell.

Driving Home For Christmas

I don’t know about you, but Christmas is that time of year where to-do lists are a life saver!  So much to organise – presents to buy, food to prepare, parties to throw!  Many people will be packing up and leaving their homes for the Christmas period, so if that’s you, there are some important things to bear in mind for before you up and leave to help keep your home and its contents safe.  Graham King from our residential property management department has given us some simple & helpful tips to enable us to keep on top of things before we leave.   

First and foremost make sure your home is secure – check all locks and windows to the home and garage and make sure they are in good working order.

Don’t forget about insurance.  You may already have home insurance, but if you are leaving your home for a long time be aware that most insurers will not cover your property if left unoccupied for more than 60 consecutive days, some no more than 30 days.  If you are living in a rented property, it would be sensible to inform your agent if you are planning to leave it vacant for anything over 28 days.  You can obtain Vacant Property Insurance which will fully cover the building if it’s to be left unattended for more than 28 days (this is not covered under normal household insurance.).   

Make sure your home looks lived in; one effective way of doing this is by installing timer switches for the lights which could potentially deter any burglars.  There are several apps nowadays where you can control your lighting/heating remotely.

Be sure to turn off your cold water supply – if freezing weather is expected, you really don’t want to come back to burst pipes!

Take out your rubbish and food waste – not pleasant coming home to a smelly fridge and mouldy food!

Where possible, ask a friend or neighbour to pick up your post while you’re away – this again is a security measure, piles of post building up by the front door is an obvious sign that no-one is in.

Set your heating to a frost or holiday setting to reduce energy consumption.

If you are travelling abroad, make sure you advise your bank of your trip so they don’t block any unexpected overseas transactions.


Wrapping Up Wrap Up London!

As many of you know, Wrap Up London held their 6th annual coat collection this November.  Davis Brown were thrilled to be involved by being a collection point for donated coats for Fitzrovia and the surrounding area, and we’re extremely happy to say it was a huge success.  Wrap Up London smashed their target of 15,000 coats, which – as we speak – are being distributed to vulnerable groups and charities across the capital where they will be put to extremely good use at this freezing time of year.  Word is spreading far and wide and Manchester has now joined in with Wrap Up London, and here’s to plenty more cities and towns all over the country getting involved for 2017!

Our local community really did themselves proud with many local businesses and Housing Associations getting involved, and by the time the last coat was dropped off our Reception room was brimming with cosy coats!   At the last count we had nearly 100 donated in total and we made several trips to Safestore on Pentonville Road, who were holding all donated coats before they went out for distribution.

Davis Brown will be getting involved again next year, but for now we would like to thank each and every one of you who helped this wonderful organisation;  many local residents and businesses gave so generously to make 2016 Wrap Up London so successful and we are extremely proud of our fellow Fitzrovians!


It’s all about Islington!

Did you know that the London Borough of Islington, as we know it today, is around 50 years old?  It emerged when the metropolitan boroughs of Islington and Finsbury united in 1965 during a London-wide reorganisation.  However, the borough’s history is one of the oldest in London with a mention in the Doomsday Book in the 11th century.  It talks about Islington as once being a “savage place – a forest full of the lairs of wild beasts where bears and wild bulls roamed.”.  Oh what a difference a few centuries makes!  Over the last decade Islington has become one of London’s most desirable areas to live, play, work and anything else you fancy doing there!  The bustling High Street offers more than enough entertainment, with a plethora of restaurants, boutique shops, and gastro pubs, plus you have the intimate and cosy Almeida Theatre, which in my view is one of the loveliest fringe theatres in London.  Angel Islington – as some may refer to the area as, takes its name from the Angel Inn which once stood on the corner of Islington High Street and Pentonville Road, and now lends its name to one of two underground station in the area.

Islington has many beautiful tree lined streets with fabulous homes, and it offers some of the prettiest residential squares in London.  The main building period began in the area in the 1820s as the squares and terraces of Barnsbury (a area of Islington) started appearing.  Barnsbury continues to be a popular choice and Davis Brown is offering you the chance to rent in this fantastic area.  Our lettings department have four beautiful, modern flats nestled away in the corner Barnsbury Square.  If you would like more information about these flats, get in touch with our residential team who will be sure to help.

Run You Home With These Top 5 Apps!

Who doesn’t lead a hectic life nowadays?!  As busy Estate & Managing Agents we are often battling our way through the busy city streets feeling stressed, so anything that will make our lives that little bit easier is always welcome!  Keeping track of the running of the home can often fall by the wayside but fear not, we have 5 nifty apps to share with you which will no doubt make your life a lot easier and you really now have no excuse not to keep things in order… 

1.           HomeRoutines

This genius of an app allows users to create routines with a variety of different occurrences.  The idea is that you set up different routines with a list of jobs; for example you may have “empty the dishwasher” and “feed the dog” in for twice a day, but “mop the floors” in for once a week.  You can even create seasonal routines – winter rain and mud may mean your floors require a little more TLC than in the summer time.  Each day the app sends you a reminder of what’s on your to-do list – whilst helping you to keep a track of everything, this app also ensures you that you’ll never forget to take the rubbish out again! 

2.           Hive

The core function of British Gas’s app Hive is that it gives the user the ability to control their heating and hot water on the go.  Imagine this, you finish work early and can’t wait to get home and snuggle up on the sofa with a cup of tea in front of the tv.  But, it’s freezing cold outside and your heating isn’t due to come on for another couple of hours.  With Hive, you can simply open the app and turn on the heating on so that when you get home, you are welcomed into a lovely warm home!  

Hive has however developed the app to do far more than just control your heating and hot water.  Hive Active Plug lets you control your electrical appliances from the app (a lifesaver for those of us that periodically fret about whether we left the hair straighteners on!) whilst Hive Active Light let you switch your lights on and off! In short, Hive is a techy home organisation lover’s dream, and ensures that wherever you are, you’re in control of your energy. 

3.           Wunderlist

Wunderlist is a list lover’s dream!  The whole point of this app is to create to dos and tick them off (oh the satisfaction of ticking them off!).  Whilst this app can be used for all sorts of topics, it’s particularly useful for keeping on top of your home.  Whether it’s your weekly shopping, or long term house goals this app keeps them all in one place.  You can filter tasks, see what’s due on any given day and star things that are urgent. 

This app also allows the user to invite others to join a list – whether it’s a list of essentials that need buying that you want to share with your flatmate, or jobs to be done around the house for the family to share.  

4.           Energy Apps

EDF, British Gas, SSE, Eon…the list goes on.  Almost all energy suppliers nowadays have apps.  Not the most exciting of our top 5, but still very useful!  Send your meter readings, take advantage of offers, pay your bills and check your usage on the go with your energy supplier’s app.  

5.           TaskRabbit

Sometimes even with all the technological help in the world there just aren’t enough hours in the week which is why TaskRabbit was invented!  Type in your task, and ‘taskers’ will send you their availability, services and price.  Whether it’s a mountain of ironing you just don’t have the energy to do, or a clean of your kitchen after a dinner party, with TaskRabbit there’s always someone who’s happy to help!

Give your Old Coat a New Life! Wrap Up London this Winter!

I don’t know about you but for me, one of the things I love about the winter months is wrapping up warm and being cosy and snuggly in a brand new coat, but it’s so easy to take for granted that we can actually do that and there are so many people in London who don’t have that luxury.  We here are Davis Brown Estate Agents in Fitzrovia are very much of the mind “out with the old (giving the “old” to charity), in with the new” and have teamed up with Wrap Up London – a fantastic charity who are in their sixth year of collecting old, unwanted or used coats from members of the public to distribute directly to those who are likely to struggle in the cold weather this Winter.  Wrap Up London (organised by the charity Hands on London), works with many homeless shelters including refugee and children’s centres, elderly organisations & women’s shelters, to name but a few, so coats of all sizes are very welcome.  Last year nearly 14,000 coats were collected in the capital and the charity is looking to collect at least that number again this year. 

Davis Brown are getting involved by holding an in-house coat collection, where we are hoping as many “Fitzrovians” will be able to drop in a coat, have a chocolate on us and maybe even pose for an Instagram or Twitter pic!  We are welcoming coats of all shapes and sizes, but we are especially after men’s coats as historically these have been in higher demand.   If you have a coat to spare, we are taking donations now!  So please pop by to Davis Brown, 1 Margaret St, W1W 8RB, between the hours of 9 and 5pm Monday to Friday – no need to call ahead.  Last collection will be on Thursday 17th November at 5pm. We hope to see you soon!

Wrap Up London really seems to bring out the best in Londoners; people have been bringing whole suitcases full of old coats, and at the end of last week at Highbury and Islington (one of the coat collection points), a young school boy got off his bike and handed over his own coat, and when asked if his Mum would mind he replied saying that other people needed it more than him. It warms the cockles of my heart to see such caring humanity.   So come on Londoners – let’s pull together as a community!  Give a coat, warm a heart!

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