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How to increase your rent from £500 to £700 a week

June 21, 2011

As a response to our regular CityAm column we recently received a call from a landlord seeking our help to furnish and stage an apartment for rental.  Already on the market, they had received one offer of £495 a week for the 2 bedroom 2 bathroom property but wanted to achieve something closer to £700 a week.

We arranged to meet a representative of the landlord at the property.  It is fabulously located, just across the road from Harrods with Burberry for your neighbours.  You can wave to people living in apartments at The Knightsbridge, and I think you could possibly just see the neighbours at OneHydePark.  If you don’t want to cook, Zuma, the upmarket Japanese restaurant favoured by stars, is on your doorstep.

The apartment is up four flights of stairs.  My initial thoughts were that it was nicely finished with a good-sized reception room, integrated kitchen and two bedrooms both with their own bathrooms.  Although small it is located in the heart of Knightsbridge so would you really be sat at home every night?  One major drawback – many of the windows looked onto the back of a much taller building (ie zero views) and several couldn’t be opened or cleaned so dirty windows.

The challenge here was to style the property so potential tenants would like the property, disguising the poor quality of the windows and make people want to live there.  Although the location is high-end the budget was strictly high street for this project , so flat pack furniture and well priced furnishings  and with the property empty the landlord was keen to see it furnished and rented as quickly as possible.

We prepared a quotation for the client and within one hour it was accepted.  We headed to their offices to sign the contract and was told by the head of the organisation that ‘he didn’t have any interior designer’ and would be interested to see how the project went – so we were on trial!

We returned to the office and quickly finalised the specification.  Speed and availability was the key for this project – our interior design projects generally take 10-12weeks from the initial meeting to handover, but our completion date here was a week away as the landlord was eager to keep the void period as short as possible.

So off we went to John Lewis, Ikea, BHS, Next and other high street stores.  The mistake landlords often make when furnishing a property is to just shop at one place.  We have all seen the property dripping in Ikea’s finest, and while there is nothing wrong with using some Ikea products just mix it all up – and you won’t get the shop bought look.

So the sofa’s for the project did come from Ikea, the Karlsbad range as seen in hundreds of rented properties but we paid the extra money to add a chrome frame to the base.  Immediately this lifted the sofa and it no longer looked like Ikea.  A simple oak frame from John Lewis was used rather than the classic ‘Malm’  bed frame from Ikea.

Given the location isn’t the easiest for deliveries we arranged to have everything delivered to our offices, booked a Streetvan and headed off early one morning armed with a toolbox, some hired muscle and a strong drive to get the property dressed and ready to show.

Just nine hours later we had completed the project, everything was unpacked – furniture assembled, rugs done, bed linen ironed and beds made.  We had hung the pictures on the walls and arranged the accessories throughout the apartment.  The client arrived and was delighted, we turned an empty space into somewhere people could call home.

Two weeks after finishing the project the client rang to tell us the apartment had been rented and achieved exactly what they wanted.  They said the tenants loved the fresh interior and could imagine moving in, unpacking and enjoying the space.  The objective here was to furnish a home without a huge expense – by working with high street retailers and mixing products from several of them we achieved the rental price the client wanted with minimal void time.

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