Better with age: Why period features are top of Londoners' property wish lists

Zoe Gunn

21 September 2021

Forget a garden. At the capital’s most covetable homes it’s all about parlours and parquet flooring.

21 September 2021 | Zoe Gunn

In partnership with: JLL

P

erhaps it’s the Bridgerton effect. Perhaps it’s the preponderance of charmless high-rise new builds in the capital. Whatever the cause, there’s no denying that London’s most in-demand homes abound with period features.

Thankfully, the capital isn’t short on interesting buildings with serious history. From the Elizabethan era properties of the City to the Regency, Georgian and Victorian homes that abound in West London neighbourhoods, London is arguably one of the best places in the world for buyers looking for a home with period charisma. The good news for sellers is, that by the very nature of it being impossible to build a new period home, their limited supply can also result in better prices on the property market – especially in a prime London location.

Of course, it always helps to have an expert on hand in the hunt for your dream home – and that's where JLL steps in. Its experienced prime central London team has unrivalled knowledge of the London property market and pride themselves on being able to find the perfect home for every buyer, whether you've got your heart set on Edwardian columns or a Georgian frontage.

So, if you’re looking to sell, what’s going to make your home hot property? “The period features in highest demand are high ceilings, most regularly found in the typical first floor drawing room or ‘piano nobile’ of typical Victorian and Georgian buildings,” says Richard Barber, a Prime Central London Specialist Agent at JLL. “Good ceiling heights can also be found on the ground floor, but it is usually the first floor which is most sought after.”

Along with the light, airy atmosphere afforded by high ceilings, Barber also highlights fine ceiling moldings, architraves, original fireplaces and elegant staircases as being high on buyer wish lists. "All of these features are typical of the architecture of the Regency, Georgian and Victorian eras,” he explains. “There are many fine examples of these throughout Kensington and Chelsea, but particularly within the Cubitt buildings of Belgravia.”

Take, for example, this gorgeous maisonette (pictured) at 60 Cadogan Square in Knightsbridge. Spread over two floors of a Grade II-listed red brick corner building, extensive remodelling has been undertaken to turn this amalgamation of two flats into one spacious home, but care has also been paid to preserving as much of the original architecture and period features as possible.

The elegant drawing room is a case in point. The original cornicing, wall and ceiling detailing and fireplace remain, while the centrepiece of the room is a large bay window wide enough to comfortably fit a dining table for six overlooking the private gardens of Cadogan Square, to which the owners will also have access. The most splendid place to host afternoon tea, we think you’ll agree.

Oak parquet flooring extends throughout the reception rooms, kitchen and main hallway, while three double bedrooms offer large, modern accommodation, retaining the arched windows of the original architecture. Other contemporary touches include underfloor heating and a Lutron lighting system throughout but history hunters may find what lies beneath the main home more exciting. Here several vaults have been repurposed to create a wine cellar and utility room, both featuring original exposed brickwork and thick wooden beams.

Of course, a well cared for period home such as this comes at a premium, and Barber cautions that there are certain considerations buyers should take into account before purchasing the Regency home of their Jane Austen dreams. “Buyers wanting period features should look for well-preserved buildings within prime central London, particularly those that are white stucco, as these generally will provide the type of molding, high ceiling and architraves common of homes built between 1840-1880,” he advises. “They should also be aware that these features are often Listed and their preservation and restoration can be expensive.”

If you are cognisant of the costs and upkeep required of owning a period home, however, Barber also agrees that there is nothing quite like living in one. “Period features add value to a property as they provide the character which is absent in the new build sector and are rudiment of the traditional London architecture which many foreigners seek,” he says. A period home, then, can also present a worthy investment and, if you get to enjoy living there in the meantime, so much the better.

60 Cadogan Square is listed for sale with JLL with price on application. Visit residential.jll.co.uk.