The best homes of 2021 - Unique Property Company

The best homes of 2021

For our final blog of 2021, each member of the team chooses and talks about their personal favourite from the homes we’ve sold and let this year.

Although selling and renting unique homes is our daily bread, there are standout moments of joy for everyone here when a particular home speaks to our soul. Sometimes it’s predictable and sometimes it comes completely by surprise, but when the feeling hits it leaves an impression that can have profound effects.

Whether you’re a fan of quintessential loft living, classic houses from the Georgians and Victorians, reimagined agricultural buildings or contemporary architectural creations, join us for a tour around the best of this year’s unique homes for sale and to rent.

Simon – Tyers Gate.

My favourite home of this year is Tyers Gate for many, many different reasons.

What started as an appointment to visit a classic warehouse space ended up triggering my desire to move back into Central London. The owners of the apartment lived there as a family until their kids were into their early twenties, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’d really like my children to experience that kind of lifestyle.

In terms of the space on offer, it’s exactly what someone would describe if you asked them to imagine and talk about a quintessential loft. The immense space (over 3,000sq ft), the exposed brick walls, the chunky timber beams and the loading bay doors are all there, along with great ceiling heights and two roof terraces that make being outside a wonderful pleasure.

The live/work use means you can run a proper business and there’s also huge investment potential. It’s a place to flex your creative muscles in a location that’s exactly the sort of environment that people dream about.

Then there’s the location, which is fantastic. Just off Bermondsey Street and close to London Bridge, it’s a remarkably sedate village position in the centre of the city. From a traffic noise perspective it’s quieter than plenty of suburbs!

Although I’d have loved to have the funds to buy it myself, it has spurred me on to begin the search for a new home in London with the full blessing of my wife and my kids who are all as excited as I am about living near the South Bank.

Sandra – The Salt Box.

So if I had to pick a house that I thought was my favourite this year, it was the saltbox intensity. We see unique homes all the time, but this was just such a surprising thing to find in London.

From the photos you’d think it was somewhere in upstate Connecticut, with its white-painted clapboard facade and tree-filled surroundings, but actually it’s in Thames Ditton near Surbiton.

There was so much interest in it and there’s just so much character. In a way it was almost like a beach house, particularly upstairs with its slightly coastal vibe – the way it’s designed is most so cute. It’s also got a large basement – another American quality that you almost never find in London – but it’s nonetheless an unmistakably Georgian house through and through.

When it was dark in the evenings and the house was all lit up, I felt like I was taking people to view a fairytale. There’s a huge backyard that’s like a magical forest for the backyard, with a stream running past and a well that’s been filled in to become a planter. It’s all really enclosed with all these trees and bushes, so it feels like a really cool hideaway, or just an escape when the heatwave hits!

Danny – Pemberton Road.

As an art deco fan and recent brutalist convert, I didn’t expect to vote for a Victorian house. But with a riverside setting and a wrap-around garden, this slice of the countryside in North London really captured my heart.

The house stands out in the street and when you walk down the hill from the western end of Pemberton Road in Harringay: you see the New River, then this blue house on the corner of it. I’d often walked past and wondered “what’s in there”? You can’t see the garden because it’s secluded, but you know there’s something special going on because the previous owners had incorporated the side return, so the garden wrapped around the house.

They even used to have kind of mini-festivals with bands and DJs and they had one of their best friends living with them for 10 years, so it was a very, very happy house. The new owners have a baby and they have such a lovely future to look forward to – it struck me as a really quirky and interesting family house with views of a river that you do not get in London: like a slice of countryside in N4.

Then just down the road, you’ve got some of the best Turkish cuisine in England, so there’s a mix of urban lifestyle and country living with ducks walking around outside your window and a canal the kids can paddle in. A really summery home that’s a fantastic family dwelling and unrivalled by any other house in the surrounding streets.

Hannah – Gallery Lofts.

This double-height penthouse is one of our longest-standing listings, and whenever it becomes available to rent I just want to move in. The light, those massive windows, and those views of St Paul’s!

It’s always been one of favourites with all that floor-to-ceiling glass that opens out to a private terrace. Standing outside you have this wonderful outlook of Tate Modern, The Millennium Bridge, The Thames and then across the river, with all the people wandering about below but completely out of earshot.

The main living space of the apartment is so welcoming and a brilliant place to either savor for yourself or to have friends over for food – the view gets even better at night! The bathrooms are quite special and the upstairs bedroom also has a sneaky view of St Paul’s, which means you can see the dome from your bed. Where else can you do that?

I’m usually a north-of-the-river person, but just like so many others, my supposedly firm rules about where I’d live go completely out of the window at Bankside Lofts. Most people know the development from the cylindrical mustard-coloured tower, but the Gallery Lofts section that houses this apartment is ultimately a nine-storey wall of glass with some of the best views in London.

Dilly – Manor Lane.

This doughnut-shaped house on Manor Lane in Hither Green is my favourite property of 2021.

It’s completely hidden from the street and is a total one-of-a-kind: as you walk through the front door you feel like you’re somewhere on the Mediterranean!

The house mixes Spanish style with Art Deco-inspired spaces and was created by furniture designer Michael Kemp for his own use. Like all the best homes designed by their owners, you can feel that deep connection to the space all the way through with the use of materials and attention to detail.

As well as being a very liveable three-bedroom home, there’s an enormous living room for hosting the most fantastic soirées. Then on the other side of the house there’s a former workshop that’s perfect for running a small empire, converting into a cinema or for its current use as a sound studio.

I love the shape of the building and its glass exterior and interior walls that allow a view of the central courtyard from almost any point in the house. That wonderful and very private outside space is a real sun-trap – plant yourself in any corner during the day and you’ll be soaking up the rays.

The garden continues over the house with a natural grass roof that attracts birds, squirrels and even the odd fox.

It’s a real treat to visit, and a real retreat from the world.

Madelaine – Warrior Square.

In a year when I’ve been lucky enough to see some truly inspirational homes, it’s tough to choose which is my favourite.

Twee Artsen, the converted Dutch barge at Hermitage Moorings with a view of Tower Bridge takes some beating. I could really imagine myself living on board there, buzzing along the north and south river banks to get to pretty much anywhere in central London, enjoying the local community along Wapping High Street and waking every day to that view of sky, river traffic and London’s skyline

But ultimately the beautiful, elegant and immense house at 47 Warrior Square yards from the sea in St Leonards provided my very best moments of house envy! The previous owner had gone to such lengths to restore and preserve this magnificent house and to make it a supremely comfortable home.

During the short time when I was hosting viewings (we sold the property in under a month) I kept talking about how I fantasised about living there. My husband would ask me what I’d do with all of that SPACE. My plan was to just enjoy it.

I’m also a firm believer that where we live and the space that we inhabit informs the way that we behave, so I’m sure my life would have changed and that I’d have found interesting ways to utilise the space. A room for creating films and writing; a fully fitted home gym, or even a lap pool (I’m allowed to fantasise!). And certainly some convivial movie nights in the professional-level home cinema.

I’m friendly with the new owners who’ve been lovely and have invited me over to look at how they’re changing the space to make it their own. I can’t wait to go back!

David – Colts Hill Oast.

Colts Hill reminds me of those American movies where you see successive generations of a family growing up in the same home – just years and years of bringing people together and making many happy memories.

When you turn into the property and you see this gorgeous and stunning oast house on the right, then another incredible building on the left – fantastic for running a business or making into a little holiday let. The open garden is somewhere you could go foraging and never know what you’ll find in all that land, and then there’s a zip wire at the end!

Inside the house, there was just so much to love that it feels impossible to get it all done, but I was really taken with the bespoke style of the kitchen and the way it curves around and almost cuddles the oast. There are wooden beams everywhere and upstairs where the bedrooms are it just feels just so historic and cosy.

I keep coming back to movies, or in this case books, and I don’t even know if it’s the right era, but there’s something a bit Jane Austen about it too. The owners had their wedding party here so it’s proper English country living.

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