London's new wave of warehouse conversions: adding space, light and interior drama

Londoners love lofts. Warehouse conversions, with their lavish architectural detailing, romantic associations with the days of Empire and, more importantly, their light, spacious interiors and spectacular windows, are always in demand.

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The launch of the London Docklands Development Corporation in 1981 set the warehouse trend, with developers seizing on the story-telling names linked to the city’s maritime past —  Cinnamon Wharf, Gun Wharf, Tobacco Dock — names redolent of clippers bringing cargos into London.

Architects have learned to work with the character-filled interiors of these warehouses, preserving their much-loved exposed brickwork, cast-iron columns, toffee-coloured wooden floors and gnarled black beams.

Metropolitan Wharf in Wapping is a Grade II-listed Victorian space where chandeliers by British designer Tom Dixon fill the high roof spaces. For more details on homes to rent, call Space Station on 020 3641 8150.

Warehouses are not the sole preserve of Docklands. Long Island Lofts is an Art Deco building in Acton that has been transformed into 34 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, all accessed via an original grand staircase.

These apartments have the wow factor, says Jonny Enticknap of Hamptons International. “There are lots of bland homes being built here, the area’s been crying out for something like this.” Apartments start from £495,000.  Call Hamptons International on 020 3451 1512.

Euston Reach in Mornington Crescent, NW1, was once an Edwardian warehouse. It is currently being turned into 85 suites, with one- and two-bedroom apartments arranged around a four-storey atrium by award-winning architect Rabih Hage.

Another impressive conversion in the same postcode is The Anello Building, a scheme of 22 loft apartments in a former shoe factory.

One-bedroom apartments at Euston Reach start at £730,000, with prices from £650,000 at The Anello Building. Call Aston Chase on 020 7724 4724.

Unlike the latest apartment blocks on the market, warehouse conversions are unlikely to offer pools and gyms, but this keeps the service charges down. Their longer leases appeal to house hunters in prime spots such as Regent’s Park, where short leases are commonplace. Buyers at The Printworks in fashionable Clapham get 999-year leases along with the distinctive arched windows and grand façade. Designed for stylish artisan living, the apartments boast a chic, modern design and convenient location.

One-bedroom flats start from £338,000. Call Sotheby’s International Realty on 020 7495 9580. Waterside warehouses are the top choice. A commercial-to-residential conversion overlooking London’s oldest canal, the Limehouse Cut, has easy access to Canary Wharf. Simon De Friend of developer Regal Homes says Royal Quay in E14 is a rare find in a market dominated by new builds.

“The old sail lofts offer double, sometimes triple-height ceilings, creating the most phenomenal volume of space,” he adds. One-bedroom flats with exposed brickwork start from £420,000. Call Regal Homes on 020 7328 7171.

Not all conversions offer interior period details. City Wharf in N1, a stone’s throw from the bustling Old Street district, was inspired by the  surrounding warehouses lining  Wenlock Basin, but the storage buildings originally on site proved too  low-rise to convert, says developer  Fabrica.

The building’s weathered steel exterior now houses new apartments with timber floors. One-bedroom flats start from £585,000. Call Fabrica on 020 3642 8973. 

Only the original façade remains at The Joinery, a former timber yard in Islington. The latest phase, Hardy Court, features apartments that have industrial-inspired interiors. Prices start at £495,000. Call Currell on 020 7226 6611.

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