This year London town flagship stores have come over all whimsical and seized all things magical and make-believe, enchanted forests, fairytales and festive fantasy. We take a look at some of the iconic department stores creative takes on this years Christmas.
400 Oxford Street, Marylebone, London. W1U 1AB
This year Selfridges have embraced the classic fairytale theme; their windows depict the stories of Sleeping Beauty, the Ugly Duckling, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Rumplestiltskin, Paddington Bear and Santa Clause. An installation with the words ‘Destination Christmas’ hangs above the Oxford Street entrance with a large Golden Goose at its centre. Inside the store 197,000 baubles in five different colours hang from the ceiling, alongside 1,005 decorated Christmas trees. The storytelling theme sees the Ugly Duckling depicted by a mannequin wearing an AF Vandevorst dress made with feathers. Sleeping Beauty is sat next to a spinning wheel, a spiders web hangs down behind her, with glamorous high heels and jewelled bags attached to it, under the warm hue of the lights the glow emitted from the golden spray paint they are all covered in is magical.
Linda Hewson, the creative director of Selfridges describes this year’s window display as “doing fairytales and enchanted stories with a Selfridges twist.”
87-135 Brompton Road, Kingsbridge, London. SW3 1RT
This year Harrods have transformed their store with their theme ‘The Land of Make Believe.’ The windows showcase International and British designer goods, including fashion, beauty and toys. Designers such as Stella McCartney and Matthew Williamson were brought in store to revolutionize the Brompton Road store ready for Christmas. The collections displayed in the windows are flanked by large extravagant toys, such as teddy bears, a jack in the box, an army of toy soldiers, a rotating ballerina and a troupe of white mice dressed in Harrods traditional green uniform. The mice also feature in Harrods first animated film, which tells the story of Harrods famous Christmas lights that adorn the building every year. Deborah Bee Director of Creative Marketing said “The Land of Make Believe brings the festive magic of the store to life.”
Liberty of London
Regent Street, Soho, London. W1B 5AH
Following the trend of Christmas classics and magical touches that Harrods and Selfridges seem to have employed, Liberty’s windows this year depict the ‘12 days of Christmas’, the concept entitled ‘The Imaginarium’ sees the window displays interpretating the well known lines of the Christmas carol. Two turtle doves are realised by two taxidermy white doves that are embellished with crystals, they are taking flight off the back of an intricate silver and white sleigh. Rich blues, oranges and gold’s set against Narnia-esque whites, silvers and glitter, crystals and mirrors.
278-306 Oxford Street, Marylebone, London. W1A 1EX
Oxford Street’s John Lewis store have incorporated their advertising campaign of the story of a little boy and his penguin friend Monty onto the rooftop or their store, which has been transformed into ‘Monty’s Winter Garden’ and inside the store John Lewis and Microsoft have collaborated to create ‘Monty’s Magical Toy Machine.’ Every window of the flagship store features Monty and his friends, coupled with the slogan ‘For the Christmas they’ve been dreaming of’, whether it be Monty and friends frolicking on electrical appliances, baking up a storm in the kitchen or dancing alongside six mannequins modelling party wear. John Lewis embraced the theme of Monty the penguin this year, with an array of merchandise available in store too.
109-125 Knightsbridge, London. SW1X 7RJ
Harvey Nichols launched Christmas with their ‘Into the Woods’ campaign, which sees sisters Snow White and Rose Red in a themed online fashion film, in dramatic fairy tale fashion. The store has rolled out the ‘Enchanted Forest’ theme in their Knightsbridge stores Christmas windows, with scenes depicting the fantasy woodland and mannequins transformed into woodland creatures. Dressed in must have designs from McQueen, Lanvin and many more, the mannequins are illuminated by beams of light reflecting off grand metallic tree trunks, that have been draped in this years most wanted accessories. The 3D forest scenes took 600 hours to build following a year in the planning, 210 Christmas trees also contribute to decorating the iconic store. Head of Display Janet Wardley said “we wanted to bring to life a fairytale landscape that makes you immerse yourself into the magic.”
It is beginning to look a lot like
Selling your house can be a time-consuming affair lasting months, the average length of time across the UK is 65 days, places such as Powys in Wales have a much slower selling rate with the average sale taking a pain-staking 113 days. If you live in Cambridge, the fastest selling spot, you’re likely to sell your house within 27 days and Lewisham, Sutton, Waltham Forest, Hackney, Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley in London also have very good selling potential, with property selling very quickly. However if you aren’t lucky enough to live in an area in demand there are a number of ways, which we’ve outlined below that can help to fast track the sale of your home.
Technically your home is on the stage so it needs to look its best, company ‘Housewow’ is a home-staging firm available to hire, they recommend spending 2% of the asking price on sprucing your home up. It is worth deep-cleaning carpets, buying flowers, de-cluttering, plumping cushions, hiring furniture, painting the walls neutral colours and creating space.
2. Time and Flexibility
If you can keep your home looking its best at all times and are prepared to take viewings at very short notice, especially over the weekend, you’re increasing your chances of a quick sale. Listing your house on a Friday means that those planning their weekend house-hunt will see your property, as it will be at the higher end of the property search engines due to its recent listing. Also it helps if you can agree to move on a date that suits the potential new buyer, even if it is of an inconvenience for you, if you do as much as possible to please them it will increase your chances of a sale.
It isn’t always best to go for the highest valuation believe it or not, although the appeal of the estate agent who says it is worth £10,000 more than the last is great, it can cost you money in the long run, if the market changes and your still sitting on the house a year later it could well have lost you that possible £10,000 and more. It is better to go with an agent with a strong portfolio of success in selling property like your own.
The more people who know you are selling the more likely you’ll find someone to sell to. Use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and of course word-of-mouth.
5. Pack up
Put your things away, the clutter of your daily life and the photos that record it aren’t appealing to a new home buyer, they want to envision their future home and by clearing out your memories it enables them to do so, if you can do this before the photos are taken by the agent all the better.
If your not selling in a conservation area make your next investment in one, it is an almost guarantee for buyers and sellers that the value of houses in conservation areas are unlikely to drop.
Have the title deeds prepared, it is almost always delays in legalities that slow a sale down, if you’ve had an extension you’ll need to have evidence of the planning consent too. It is delays that give a prospective buyer the chance to re-consider and pull out so do everything in your power to minimize the risk of it occurring.
Endlessly send emails every few days to all those involved: estate agents, solicitors, and surveyors. Approach the sale of your house as a business deal, if you treat it with professionalism and punctuality it will make others follow suit, they won’t want to look incompetent in front of others so will work hard not to.
The quality and detailing of the brochure is important, it is worth including information on the neighbourhood, floor plans and a detailed description of each room. If the agent cannot do this find another one.
Consider offering the agent a very small percentage if they manage to exchange within six weeks, say an additional 0.5%, it could be the impetus they need to ensure you a fast sale
In fact, Peckham has long ago shifted the idea it was ‘only for fools’, if you have money to invest it is best to put historical prejudices aside and seriously consider the area of South-East London; with crime and murder no longer defining the area, it has been attracting a new crowd from Shoreditch and East London. With trendy bars and pop-up summertime hangouts and an evolving art scene it is the place to be. The closeness of the art schools in New Cross and Camberwell has attracted a new set that only further encourages the big art scene.
There is a new middle-class vibe to Peckham, with an overflow of buyers from East Dulwich and Clapham, and with spacious parks, excellent schools and cheap property it is attracting more and more families.
What investment is there in the area?
Peckham has already benefited from investment in the late 90’s, with the demolition of many old council estates and a variety of private investment, there is a vast variety of bars, restaurants, galleries, cafés and boutique shops.
The ten-storey Peckham Rye car park is being called upon by a group of young artists to be transformed into an arts centre, with the £10 million pound project estimated to create 500 new jobs.
There are also plans to refurbish the Peckham Rye station and rumours of pedestrianising Rye Lane that is still awash with pound shops.
According to the premier estates GJM Gareth James Property in the area Peckham is the “hottest investment spot in the UK for properties under £1.5 million”.
Where to buy?
Peckham has some fantastic architecture, for instant the Georgian and Victorian houses situated on Bellenden Road, once an area best avoided reach up to and more than £1 million pounds these days. SE15 is an area where there are numerous growth opportunities so it is good for those looking to invest. North Peckham could be a wise investment; Queen’s Road prices are still relatively low but should still see a hike following regeneration of the area. In terms of a buy-to-let portfolio Peckham is invaluable, with the rent yields above the London average.
Peckham has benefited by the East London line extension, on the new over ground service you can reach London Bridge within 7-10 minutes, Victoria within 13 minutes. Direct trains also run to Kings Cross within 23 minutes, as well as Blackfriars, St Pancreas, Farringdon and Elephant and Castle.
Its close proximity to London Bridge also makes Peckham attractive, as it is easy to reach The South Bank, where visits to The Tate Modern, The London Eye and The Globe Theatre always prove popular.
The City is enjoying lighter evenings and finer weather and what better way to enjoy the delights of London this summer than to visit one of the following attractions the City has to offer.
Lovebox festival is held over two-days in East London’s Victoria Park, this year the festival takes place over the weekend of the 18th and 19th of July. This year’s headliners are Chase & Status; arguably the UK’s biggest electronic act. Lovebox festival is now in its 11th year outdoors after beginning in 2002 in London’s night club 93 Feet East, founded by Groove Armada, the festival has grown steadily over the past decade. Lovebox’s line-up this year includes Katy B, David Rodigan, Knytro and A$AP Rocky, Nas, M.I.A and Soul II Soul. The festival takes place daily from 7am until dusk, see www.loveboxfestival.com for more details.
One of London’s most spectacular settings for live music is Somerset House, and now in it’s fifth year in partnership with American Express the Summer Series is back from the 10-20th July. Headliners this year include Bastille, Franz Ferninand, The Cat Empire and Daughter. The Summer Series opens daily at 19:30, with general admission costing £28.50 plus a booking fee. For more information see www.somersethouse.org.uk
London Zoo Late
London Zoo late night openings begun in June and continue every Friday in July, with admission from 18:00 and tickets costing £17.50, (or £38 with a drink, queue jump and animal mask) there are events in the Zoo including talks, comedy, theatre, carousel rides and an acoustic stage. There are 175,000 animals in London Zoo and July is an opportunity to visit them during the balmy summer evenings. Alongside the main attraction of the animals there is wine tasting, pop-up bars and street food vendors. London late nights in the Zoo are for age 18+, for more information visit their website at www.zsl.org
Penned as one of the greatest classical music festivals the first night of the Proms begins on July 18th and opens with Elgar’s biblical oratorio ‘The Kingdom’, lasting two months in total this year will commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the first world war, the focus being on the works of many wartime composers and as well as music and songs that document the conflict. For information on how to purchase tickets please see www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/proms.aspx
Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
Held in Hampton Court Palace from 8th July to 13th this summer, it is the largest annual flower show of its kind. Not only can you gaze at the beautiful floral displays but you can also pick up tips of gardening and how to grow your own fruit and vegetables, the effect of climate change on your gardens and appropriate garden products to purchase.
There are roughly fifty gardening displays, including water gardens and innovative garden designs. The marquees are filled with hundreds of the best flowers the UK has to offer and floristry is a large part of the six-day event. For more information visit www.rhs.org.uk
Looking for a romantic night away in a hotel with a twist? We’ve found the following four hotels across Europe, which will mean your vacation is one with a difference; from a private Fort, to a cave, a hotel made entirely from salt and a suite set 155 metres underground.
The abandoned caves of the Basilicata village in the South of Italy have been transformed into a luxury boutique hotel over the past ten-years. The caves are a designated part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ‘Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita’ hotel is situated in eighteen caves in total, all of which are known to have been inhabited for the past 2,500 years: since the Bronze Age.
The hotel is just part of the buildings that have been carved into the mountainside; the Sassi, which literally translates to ‘rocks’. The hotel is the brainchild of Swedish-Italian entrepreneur Daniel Kihlgren, his vision means the caves interiors have been kept minimalistic with a touch of luxury including candles, fireplaces, deep bath tubs and windows with spectacular views of the Italian hills.
The dining area is set in the 13th-century church, Cripta della Civita, where you can enjoy a locally sourced breakfast; the hotel is the perfect romantic setting, with double rooms from £150 per night.
No Man’s Land Fort in the sea is a hotel that is only accessible via helicopter or speed boat, with neighbours no less than a mile away it is an escape that could be straight from a Bond movie. The private island was built between 1867 and 1880 and will open as a resort to members of the public this autumn. The property is Grade II listed, with 22 bedrooms, a gym, nightclub, rooftop hot poll, a museum and a poolroom. The fort lies in the Solent between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight and was originally built to house roughly 80 soldiers as protection in the event of an attack from the French Navy. The resort is currently on the lookout for a manager before its launch later in the year.
The ‘Palacio del Sal Hotel’ in Bolivia is completely constructed from salt, with the majority of walls, floors, ceilings and furniture all made from the white substance. The hotel is located in the Port of Colchani, just 25km away from the city of Uyuni and on the edge of Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. The hotel is constructed of around 1 million 14-inch salt blocks; guests can relax inside the hotel in the sauna, steam room or saltwater pool and whirlpool rooms, although they are prohibited from licking the walls, as it may cause degradation of the hotel. The hotel sleeps up to 48 guests at any given time, with prices starting from £85 a night.
A visit to Sala Silvermine, Sweden could mean a visit to the world’s deepest hotel room, in such that as a guest you will sleep 155 metres underground in a previous working mine. It is cold, dark and damp but beautiful, maybe best avoided by those who suffer claustrophobia though. Winding galleries and deep cavities surround the Mine’s suite; guests need to wear warm clothing, as it is only 2 degrees Celsius in the mine, although the suite is a comfortable 18 degrees. A member of staff is contactable throughout your stay above ground via an intercom radio and bathroom facilities are situated 50 metres from the mine suite.
In our last blog post we looked at why London yields such property price potential on the buy-to-let market, this time the spotlight is on the following six areas and what the benefits of investment there are in these locations.
Nunhead is bustling with young professionals and young families, with a busy high street and the cemetery offering spectacular views of St Paul’s Cathedral it offers a slightly cheaper alternative to investment than East Dulwich and Peckham. The average property value in Nunhead is £511,142, with flats available around the £250,000 mark. Transport wise Victoria station is only 15 minutes away and St Pancras 25 minutes.
KFH Estates agent recently sold the one bedroom flat on Kirkwood Road, pictured left, for £250,000.
This residential spot is popular with those in their twenties and recent property developments in Canada Water have
benefited the area. Sellar Property Group, the creators behind London’s famous ‘Shard’ also plan to build 1,030 new homes in the area, alongside new shops, a cinema and play areas. The Daily Mail’s Harmsworth Quay print works will undergo development, introducing a further 1,000 homes if ‘British Land’s’ get the go ahead. The average property price in Rotherhithe is £411,052, however there are cheaper options available. There is an over ground station and Canada Water tube station nearby links to Victoria within 20 minutes.
Forest Hill is a very affordable area and with the overground train you can be in the thick of it in Central London within 30 minutes, not only is SE23 convenient it also has an array of very attractive Victorian houses. Investors and first-time buyers may consider looking into Horniman Gardens where homes enjoy fantastic views of London. The average property costs £362,783 making SE23 a desirable investment. The overground from Croydon comes through Forest Hill before heading north to Shoreditch and Highbury. The two-bedroom Georgian house for sale below is on the market for £600,000 and includes an attractive 61ft garden.
The average asking price of £300,000 is attracting an array of buyers- old and new, first-time and investors. Morden boasts 120 acres of Parkland and the River Wandle runs through it, there are a variety of leisure facilities in the area and it is home to one of the largest mosques in Europe. The Morden underground is on the Northern Line so transport to the city is convenient. This attractive three-bedroom semi-detached is open to offers over £360,000.
Once a run-down East London borough, Walthamstow now houses a lot of middle-class families, with its links to outdoor spaces such as Epping Forest, it is a big pull for those with children. There is a close community focused around Walthamstow village, where there are a large number of shops and restaurants. The average property price is £282,142 and Walthamstow Central is only around 20 minutes to Oxford Circus.
This first floor one-bedroom flat on Stocksfield Road is a fantastic investment opportunity and is priced at £180,000.
Before the 1990’s Wapping was a sought after address, however it was somewhat left behind with no notable development of the restaurants and retail shops, the once charming cobbled streets, inns and wharves appeared depleted. However change is on the horizon with the development of ‘Fortress Wapping’, the former print works of News International, it is part of the 15 acre space that will be redeveloped into London Dock, with a quarter that will see 1,800 new houses, cafes, squares, restaurants and a new school. At the same time Tobacco Dock, a listed warehouse complex, will be turned into what developers hope to be the ‘Covent Garden of the East End’, with an array of hotels and boutique shops. Pictured below is an artist’s impression of the re-developed print works.
A look at what to consider when buying-to-let in London 2014
Why should I invest in property in London?
With low savings rates and the uncertain stock market the buy-to-let market in London has become an attractive prospect for those looking to invest their money. With rising rents and improvement in mortgage deals, buyers are being tempted once more but where is the best place to buy-to-let and what should investors consider? Below we look at the city’s investment potential for the forthcoming years. Continue reading
Stairs and ladders have been around since prehistoric times arguably they are one of the oldest builds in architectural history, first emerging as a solution to a problem, their function to establish a connection between two spaces on different levels. These day’s staircases are a long way from merely functional, these innovative staircases or alternatives below are interactive, activity based and in some cases architecturally striking, proving that the staircase is no longer just a means to an end.
The Staircase Slide
Arguably the most enjoyable way to travel from upstairs down, these staircase slides are sure to keep not only the children entertained.
Alex Michaelis Slide side-by-side Continue reading
Draw inspiration from these famous London Department store fronts this Christmas and transfer that festive feeling into your property this December. With under three weeks until the big day it’s time to deck the halls, but rather than the traditional boughs of holly, why not try some of these alternative ideas that are adding a little touch of magic to London’s streets over Christmas.
Fortnum and Mason