Like many young couples starting a family, Alex and Emmie Faust’s priority was to find a family home at the right price - in the right community in a transport-friendly part of London.
- © Charlie Pinder
As a free-to-do-what-they-liked couple they had been living in a one-bedroom and one-boxroom flat in Brackenbury Road, Hammersmith, their favourite area, but they knew it was not the right place for family life.
However, in nearby Shepherd’s Bush they struck gold with a smart, new, three-bedroom house in a quiet, gated mews: perfect for young children.
Emmie is now nine months pregnant and with the baby imminent, the parents-to-be have the reassurance of knowing they can avoid the upheaval of having to move again when their child reaches the toddler stage.
Their home is one of eight compact but well-designed houses in a landscaped cul-de-sac off Percy Road. Spread over two levels, the 1,200 sq ft houses suit the needs of young families with relatively modest purchasing power - prices range from £550,000 to £699,950.
The ground floor has a combined open-plan kitchen, lounge and dining area, with full-width doors that concertina open on to a walled patio garden. The first floor extends into the roof space providing extra height and light, while vaulted ceilings add a bold architectural touch.
Underfloor heating frees up wall space and there is an audio-visual system and Lutron mood lighting. The houses sit behind electronic security gates and have 24-hour CCTV monitoring and burglar alarms.
Each house has two parking spaces, plus there is a communal front garden area where kids can play safely. Call Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward on 020 8222 7200.
“We absolutely love being here; it is so quiet it is like living in the country,” says Alex, 31, a web strategist. Emmie, also 31, is director of a Soho media company and a Dragon’s Den success, having secured £200,000 for Gaming Alerts, another of her enterprises. She says: “When the baby arrives, I’ll be able to park the pram without having to bother getting up and downstairs.”
Such a family-friendly housing package is not widely available in London because in recent years developers have focused on building small apartments for singles and childless couples. But this is now changing following the collapse of the buy-to-let market.
Moreover, Mayor Boris Johnson wants to boost the building of affordable houses as a way of stopping the exodus of middle-class families. During the property boom, about 95 per cent of new homes built in the capital were flats. Analysts believe this proportion could drop to below 70 per cent by 2014.
Well-designed town houses do not have to cost a fortune - and they can help boost regeneration in run-down areas by attracting families who will demand better schools, libraries, parks and neighbourhood shops.
Whether opting for a contemporary-design house or a Victorian or Georgian lookalike, most buyers want a new home to have exciting design elements and a layout that will chime with the way they live.
Often this boils down to homes with light-filled open-plan interiors (especially a kitchen-cum-family- hub space), bedrooms with luxury en-suite bathrooms, modern creature comforts such as a home cinema, and “green”, or eco-friendly, features - perhaps solar heating or rainwater collection - all of which developers now take more seriously than before.
Around the houses
New three- and four-bedroom houses are for sale on the site of a former Chelsea College of Art campus in Fulham, close to the river and the newly opened Imperial Wharf train station.
Called The Gallery, prices start at £870,000. Astral Homes, the developer, is targeting young families who want to be close to decent schools and amenities and who do not want the hassle of daunting home improvements.
The developer’s Yvette Ruggins, says: “Victorian terraces dominate in Fulham and often buyers are forced to undertake ambitious renovation to provide suitable space for family life - either by building an extension, digging out basements or converting the attic, whereas here they don’t need to.”
The modern-style town houses come with floor-to-ceiling glazing, a private garden and off-street parking. A showhouse is open for viewing. Call Jones Lang LaSalle on 020 7751 3322.
An under rated district
Camberwell Grove is part of a handsome conservation area in this underrated south-east London district.
The area borders Dulwich - popular with middle-class families who are drawn to its leafy open spaces and private schools. Though Camberwell is not on the Tube map, overground trains from nearby Denmark Hill station take less than 20 minutes to reach the West End and City, making it a good location for bread-winning commuters.
Listed Mary Datchelor School occupies a two-acre plot of land now being redeveloped into 90 homes, including a new terrace of a dozen in-keeping Georgian-style town houses.
The four-bedroom houses have balanced accommodation including separate reception and family rooms, a master bedroom with dressing area, a study, conservatory, underground garage plus there is 24-hour estate management and private gardens. Residents have access to a private tennis club on part of the former school playground. Prices from £1.425 million. Call developer St George on 020 7708 5829.
Ten Scandinavian-inspired town houses with up to four bedrooms are part of the Ipsus03 gated development at Cabul Road, Battersea. Houses are “inverted”, with bedrooms downstairs and a loft-like living area upstairs.
Interior design is simple and restrained, with timber and white-coloured finishes. And they have a garage and terrace. Prices from £615,000. Call Hamptons International on 020 7758 8478).
Two eye-catching new semis in Hartington Road, Chiswick, mix classical elegance with modern design. The four-storey houses (each about 3,300sq ft) have a brick façade with veranda and Mansard roof, four bedrooms, open-plan kitchen/living area plus a garden studio.
Lower-ground and raised-ground levels integrate nicely with the garden. Each house costs £2.4 million. Call Foxtons on 020 8996 6001.