Tag Archives: London

Last Self Build Blog For Awhile.


This is how it turned out,  pictures first , blurb at the bottom…

Night Time View Warren House Highgate


Entrance to Warren House Highgate Gail Goss and Luke Warren

Kitchen lightbox Warren House Highgate

Dining Area Warren House Highgate Night time Shot

Dining Area Doors Open Warren House Daytime Highgate London

Warren House 10m Terrace Highgate London

View to the Kitchen Warren House Highgate

TV Snug Room Warren House Highgate Gail Goss Luke Warren

Master Bedroom Warren House Highgate Gail Goss Luke Warren

Master Bathroom Warren House Highgate

Master Ensuite Warren House Highgate

Rear View Daytime Warren House Highgate

The house  is located in a discreet section of Highgate and incorporates all the 21st century mod cons and niceties.   The amazing open plan detached pavilion style reception has direct access to the heated lap pool and heated spa and lawned garden on one side and a 10 m balcony on the other.

We enter the house via a hacienda style courtyard with black bamboo for contemporary greenery or  electronically controlled spacious garages with space for three cars. We achieved the massive amount of light through the enormous expanse of glass sliding and bi-fold doors which can be completely opened adding to the openness of the ground floor living area, perfect in the summer when entertaining.

Running adjacent to the living area is a large but intimate snug, we went with a natural wood burning fire rather than gas.

An Intelligent lighting system with a myriad of pre-set lighting scenes controls the mood with full iPad/iPhone functionality.

The light box in the kitchen housing the extractor which has complete colour change control depending on your mood or the occasion. Lighting again is picked up in the lap pool and spa with a cascade waterfall bringing the wall to life.

Three of the bedrooms have their own ensuites and direct access to another 10 m balcony whilst the master bedroom has direct access to the decked terrace and it’s own master ensuite. The boutique style bathroom is furnished with Duravit drawers and console with Hansgrohe fittings and matching Victoria and Albert volcanic limestone bath and double basins. Epoxy Resin flooring throughout this -2 level.

Sustainable features include a sedum roof, rainwater recycling, LED and Compact Fluorescent lighting.  The guest WC and utility room is located on the ground floor with a plant room housing the boilers and water tanks directly under garage one.

The lighting is my favourite bit, using the iPhone to control the lights is great, my husband says my phone is surgically attached so works for me.

If you would like more details about any of the build, what we used and from where we bought please email, I’m happy to oblige.


NB Photographs by Murray  www.realfocus.co.uk.  Many thanks the pictures came out great.

And a big thanks to Ingrid http://www.ipwinteriors.co.uk, interior designer with flair.


South of the River, for a Change.

Mid way through the half term, and my two youngest have doubled into four, you got it, a BIG playdate.   And where  best to trip off to but the architecturally fabulous TateModern.   I love it’s industrial strength, the straight lines (which feeds into my slight OCD) and  the simplicity of it all.  What a Powerhouse of Modern Architecture.

A little background on the building – The Tate Modern (formerly the  Bankside Power Station) together with  Battersea Power Station, were originally designed by  Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and built in two stages between 1947 and 1963.  The Bankside power station closed in 1981 and the building was transformed into the modern gallery it is now by architects  Herzog & de Meuron.   The Tate Modern first opened in 2000.  The tallest part of the building stands at 99m (33 storeys)!  The Turbine Hall, the largest part of the building, is five storeys tall with 3,400 square metres of floorspace.

The Tate is undergoing a £215 million major extension which is scheduled to open in 2012 hopefully ready for the Olympic Games.  This will make the Tate Modern  the No 1 most visited modern gallery in the world.

And we’re in it – The Turbine Hall.

Watching the exhibition by Tacita Dean, a British born artist living in Berlin and best known for her use of film, was fantastic.    This particular FILM is an 11-minute continuous silent 35mm piece projected onto the gigantic white 13 metre high column  at the end of the very very dark  hall.   Superb.

The girls loved it.  They played ‘It’ and  ‘Hide and Seek’ for about 1.5 hours.

After which we popped up to the Interactive Area on Level 5  to play on a ‘touch pad ipad thingy megingy’ according to my middle one!   This gave me the opportunity to stroll around the photographic exhibition on the same level.  It’s amazing how much there is to do in one building.

We then ended up on the Millenium Bridge, much to my fright as I’m so not good with heights.  I walked very quickly holding two little hands all the way to the other side.  Phew.  How sad am I!

Properties in the Area.

No day will go by when I’m not working or thinking about property, it’s right up there with listening to LBC to send me to sleep at night and still needing that teeny weeny bit of sugar in my tea.  All part of what makes me me.

Looking locally, the nearest obvious residential development is Neo Bankside SE1 which are four pavillion buildings going up at the back of the Tate (they can be seen on the main picture).  It’s a £3oo million scheme in the Bankside ‘cultural quarter’.   One bedroom apartments are being marketed from £700,000.  They come equipped with Balthaup kitchen, comfort cooling, underfloor heating and far reaching views over Westminster.

Just down the road (100 yards) on Great Suffolk Street, a one bedroom apartment is on for £395,000 or a 2 bedroom at £525,000 in a RIBA award winning development with a lift and all the mod cons.

Further down the road towards London Bridge, a one bedroom apartment situated in a Victorian Warehouse Building close by to the famous Borough Market and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, is priced at £325,000.  A two bedroom on Weller Street, with balcony close to Borough station and priced at £439,950.

While I’m South of the river, I’d like to give a  mention to the ongoing redevelopment of the  area next to Battersea and Vauxhall known ‘as Nine Elms’ and a  property  ‘hotspot’.  Last year Knight Frank predicted this area to grow by 140% by 2015!   Situated on the 450-acre former industrial riverside wasteland around the glorious Battersea Power Station, which will include a new embassy complex for the US and a Northern Line Extension.  A one bedroom ‘off plan’ apartment starts from £418,000, with balcony, 24 hour porter, clubhouse for residents to include a gym.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the gallery or any other interesting spots to visit  in London.  Please suggest something similar for the Easter Break.   I’ll need it.

Why Did We Buy On This Street?

For my first blog (sorry but it’s a bit dusty dry at times) I thought I’d write a little piece on schools coupled with property, two of most parent’s top talked about subjects, well mine anyway. The unfathomable School Catchment areas.

Applications are in, so we just have to wait. You discuss it further with your friends, keep looking at the school’s website, and try to find out without any certainty how many siblings have applied to our chosen primary, secondary or 6th form college.  Nail biting stuff.

A few Reasons that a place may slip through your fingers.

  • An obscene amount of siblings apply. Coleridge Primary school in Crouch End, N8 saw their catchment shrink to 0.291 of a mile for 2011/2012, even though they are a four form entry. This is due to 70 out of 120 places being offered to siblings. So if you moved to within 0.3 of a mile last year, for the much sought after, ‘Outstanding Ofsted Report’ Coleridge then you would have been disappointed, but from experience life has a way of turning out just fine.

  • Distance, measured in a straight line or as the crow flies (hoping it flies to our house first), can change from year to year, examples this year (only looking at outstanding Ofsted school, otherwise I’ll be here all day).

  • Coldfall Primary Haringey N10 – 0.380 mile.

  • Rhodes Avenue Primary, Haringey N22 – 0.415 (pretty good but probably due to the expansion to three form entry form last year),

  • Famous Tetherdown Haringey N10 – 0.221

  • Fortismere Secondary, Haringey N10 – 0.441

  • Alexandra Park Secondary, Haringey N22 – 0.845

  • Comption Secondary School, Barnet N12 – 0.691 (a feeder school into Woodhouse College which is an Outstanding 6th form college in North Finchley).

  • And if you are seeking out a faith school, you may find that you’re not religious enough! So get down to your local church, bake cakes and make teas…

All this leads me to property prices both inside and outside catchment areas of top performing schools. There’s no denying that these properties demand a higher premium and when they come onto the market are snapped up quickly. But this situation is self -perpetuating.  The neighbourhoods close to decent transport and shops with smart Victorian houses become predominantly middle class with professional type families moving in, which in turn improves the schools, which grow and thrive with the help of parents whom support and nurture the state system (don’t get me started on Tutoring!).  Parents who would once have used their money to get their children into private schools have now created property “hotspots”.  A prime example of this being Tetherdown and Fortismere in Muswell Hill.  These parents, whilst they subscribe to state education, are using their financial clout to secure their child a place at a top performing state school.

House prices will always remain steady and rising disproportionately in these areas; a large majority have surpassed the 1 million pound plus mark forcing aspirational parents to look elsewhere.

Let me touch on renting, albeit briefly.  Read the following extract from ‘Camden School for Girls’ website, then decide for yourself. More and more over-subscribed schools and local authorities may adopt this admissions policy:

If the main address has changed temporarily, for example where a family is renting a property on a Short Term Tenancy Agreement (12 months or under), then the relevant address remains that at which the parent was resident before the period of temporary residence began, unless it can be shown that all ties to the previous address have been relinquished, or that the move is not easily reversible. The Governors may refuse to base an allocation on an address where they have reasonable grounds to believe that it is a temporary address only.

Bordering on areas to buy and what they have to offer:

  • Alexandra Park, N22 – Catchment for Rhodes Avenue Primary School, and APS – houses from 650k plus.

    Borders on to Bounds Green, Hornsey, Muswell Hill and Wood Green. Alexandra Park itself is a Green Flag winnng park. Predominantly terraced Edwardian houses with a high concentration of families.

  • Bounds Green, N11 – Bowes Primary  (Just in Enfield) with an Outstanding Ofsted Report- parts of the area in Alexandra Park School catchment – A decent 3 bedroom house 450k plus, with Bounds Green Underground Station close by.

  • Hornsey, N8 – Close by to Priory Park, a favourite for dog walkers and children as it has a playground, paddling pool and basketball courts. The High Street is full of independent shops and eateries. Campsbourne Primary School and Haringey Music Centre are in the area.  Houses are similar in price to Alexandra Park.  Hornsey Rail Wood Green Underground close by.

  • Back end of Wood Green, N22 near Alexandra Palace Rail overground – 3 bedroom houses 400k plus.

  • Harringay Ladder, N8 – still possible to find a 3 bedroom house with potential for adding an extra room in the loft – 380k plus.  Convenient to Wood Green Shopping Centre. 

  • East Finchley, on the west side of the High Road, but still in the catchment of Martins Primary School, N2, – 0.258 (has just been awarded an Outstanding Ofsted Report). 3 bedroom houses when on the market – £450k plus. East Finchley Underground.

  • Suburban residential areas close to the Northern Line between Highgate to Totteridge, for example Woodside Park.

Take a look at the House Price index (below) for the last 10 years in Barnet and Haringey. Prices continue to rise steadily, and if you were brave enough to buy during the last crash, then lucky you.   Basically, over a period of time property will always rise.

I’m not going to comment on the various predictions from the likes of RICS and Knight Frank as they take a very broad view of areas.  Property values are very subjective, and influenced by micro areas and even specific roads.  Prices of properties in the catchment of a good state school are always going to hold up.  

As families are priced out of areas like Crouch End and Muswell Hill, then the areas they can afford and feel is next best alternative, are areas where the schools will benefit from the new influx of young professional families.