Welcome back to What I Own.
We are in London this week, chatting to Katie – who hires out her property as a location home, for films and shoots.
She bought her house nearly a decade ago and, after extensive renovations, it’s almost doubled in value.
The content creator shares her experience of getting on the property ladder as a London homeowner….
I’m 38 and an interior stylist and content creator (@therowe) – managing our home as a location property for film/photo shoots.
Sundridge Park, South East London. Although we’re not on the tube, we’re only 17 minutes from Victoria or London Bridge – it’s a popular commuter town with lots of green spaces. Sundridge Pak Village parade nearby has a great pub, coffee houses, and independent shops.
We have the added bonus that we’re only a 10-minute walk into Bromley town centre with a large shopping mall, high street, plenty of restaurants and pubs and a Picturehouse cinema.
When we bought it was a three-bed property with a bathroom downstairs at the back of the house.
It was £360,000 when we bought and it’s now valued at £685,000.
It was a 10% deposit.
Via savings and family helped us by loaning us a large chunk.
At the time it was really tricky, as one of us was a permanent employee, whereas my husband worked freelance – so we had to jump through a lot of hoops to show over three years of accounts.
We were renting in Wimbledon.
We had been renting a large garden flat for a few years and felt it was a good time to invest as we knew we wanted a property in a good location – for schools and the commute, as well as somewhere we could renovate and add value. Luckily we purchased just before property prices in the area really inflated.
I am from Bromley, however, hadn’t lived in this area for more than 10 years – so it was on our radar and for our budget we could get something more substantial here than in SW London.
As soon as we bought, we had a crossover of six weeks where we were renting and paying a mortgage, so we utilised this time to open up some of the downstairs, lay new floors, fix a few issues – such as a slow leak that was discovered and we moved the gas meter. We restored some period features, completely landscaped the garden, and redecorated the entire house to a simple white canvas. It felt like a really fresh new start for the house.
These initial modifications then gave us time to figure out how we wanted to utilise the house. And, after having two children and then all the work/life style changes after the pandemic, we were able to carry out a full renovation with a clear vision of how we wanted to enhance the house that suited us as a family.
January 2021 we did a full L-shaped dormer loft conversion – creating two double bedrooms and a bathroom/utility in the loft.
We created a master bathroom suite on the first floor, installed a new staircase top to bottom then ripped out the downstairs bathroom and created a kitchen / dining area. The entire house was redecorated – with the exception of our master bedroom at the front of the house, which is next on the list.
I think my style has organically developed, there’s a functionally to it with influences from travel, and even eras, I will always have a soft spot for mid-century furniture.
Oh this is a hard one. It’s definitely a toss up between the bathroom, which just feels so indulgent (inspired by boutique hotels) or our kitchen designed by a local Brixton company, Pluck.
The use of London Plane really makes the cabinetry feel more like furniture than simply functional and makes for a really comfortable space to spend hours with friends and family around the table.
By doing the loft conversion we have gone from a three-bedroom property (one of the rooms was only single sized) to now having four substantial double bedrooms and two bathrooms. So we are very fortunate that the kids have a room each and we have a guest bedroom.
We are about to embark on renovating the large master bedroom at the front of the house, which will have a home office area which is essential in most homes since the pandemic.
Utilising the space well – for example, creating a boiler /tumble dryer cupboard in the loft bathroom – has been a game changer. Of course, it would be nice to perhaps have more storage in the garden (I think like most families with young children, there are bikes and various sports equipment to store). But on the whole, by taking the time to really consider the design of the layout has benefited us greatly as we’ve created a home that suits our lifestyles.
After finishing the main refurb, we originally created a workspace in the double reception room downstairs where the dining room used to be. However, it didn’t take long to realise we needed a quieter office space away from main hub of the house. Especially as working from home as become the the rule rather than the exception.
Realising the potential of the front master bedroom as one of the the largest rooms in the house that this could be a much harder working space – particularly as our home is used as a location property for various TV filming / photo shoots.
We have always used this room as our main bedroom, which in a way isn’t the best use of this space as it’s then redundant the majority of the day.
So our next project is to renovate this room and create a kind of ‘parlour’ or second lounge, which can be used in the day as a workspace, in the evening for us adults to chill and read and then by incorporating a large sofa bed it can also work as a guest suite. We feel this will also be very handy when the kids are teenagers as we’ll want to escape away from the video games and noise to a space where we can relax with a glass of wine.
We’ve been very lucky and haven’t had any issues – touch wood!
It’s been a long time since we were navigating the property market, I think we were very fortunate to buy when we did and we have developed a great relationship with a mortgage broker who has ensured we have secured a good mortgage rate at the best times.
At the moment, with the kids in a local school, we are very much invested in this property and the area. One of the main reasons we chose to renovate the house and push ourselves budget-wise is that we wanted to ‘future proof’ this property – so that we weren’t ever in a situation where we felt we had outgrown it.
Do you want to feature in What I Own?
What I Own is a Metro.co.uk series that takes you inside people’s properties, to take an honest look at what it’s like to buy a home in the UK. If you own your home and would be up for sharing your story, please email [email protected]tro.co.uk.
You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’ve paid to live there and how you afforded the deposit, as that’s pretty important.