Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

It’s been lovely as always being back in Pollensa, but this trip I felt a little more nostalgic than usual. For it was here that Patrick and I started our property development journey in 2009.

I had moved to the island on my own the summer before; my parents were running a property development business with a local man in Pollensa – they had bought a plot of land in the town back in the 1990s, with permission to build four new houses with swimming pools and renovate and extend the existing farmhouse, which was charming, but crumbling.

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

They so far built and sold two of the houses and by summer 2008 were completing their own house, the original farmhouse which was being updated and extended.

In the summer of 2008 the crisis was starting in Spain and it became apparent that things were most certainly not what they seemed with the business. This was not unusual on the island – cracks were starting to appear in lots of businesses – when the market is good, these things are harder to spot.

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

My family and I decided that I should move out and get more involved in the business, to try to get to the bottom of what was going on.

Fast forward a year and I had met Patrick, he had moved to Pollensa too and I was now running the business full time (having parted ways with my parents’ original business partner – now only communicating through lawyers).

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

It was a time of great stress and change for me – previously I had been working as a publicist in London so a very different role, but the silver lining to all this was that I felt I had truly found my calling. I loved everything about property development, from the accounts and spreadsheets to the creative elements, including interior design and even the organisation and project management.

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

In Autumn 2009 we took over project managing the build of the final house in the development. To say we were thrown in the deep end is a slight understatement, but it meant that we had to learn fast! It was the largest house, with the best views and we had to sell it well to maximise profit and pay off the debts that had been incurred by the ex-business partner.

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

We were also quite up against it timingwise – we had to get the house complete and sold before the Mallorca market got any worse. We were lucky in that it was slightly behind the terrible crash that had happened on the mainland, so we hoped that we had a little bit of time before the buyers totally dried up here.

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

We put together a great team and worked hard to complete the house in six months. We managed this and were very lucky that a buyer approached us when it was almost complete. The house is in a unique location in the town with stunning views and was also very unique property, so it stood out and sold where others were starting to struggle. I will go into more detail about this in a future post about things to look for when buying a house to develop, but being unique and standing out from the crown is a real bonus, whether that be through location or the property itself.

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey
We were incredibly lucky and sold the house in 2010, just before the Mallorca market dried up totally for many years. Now the Mallorca market is back to booming again, which makes sense. People often say it goes in seven year cycles and here we are again in a seller’s market for the first time in years.

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

So being back in Pollensa and seeing the first house that we built (with the help of our wonderful builders!) is always a bit emotional. But especially this year as we have decided to pause our property development business for now – another thing I will talk more about in a future post, but one of the most important things to know with property development, is when to stop.

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

Currently the property market, taxes and political landscape just feel too uncertain for us to continue – that’s not to say we won’t start again when things are more stable, but for now it’s time to take a much needed break to focus on our other work.  For Patrick that’s his photography and for me, my blog and design work.

Laura x

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

Photography by Patrick Butler-Madden

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

I’m so pleased to be sharing these pictures with you of the flat we recently finished renovating in Notting Hill. We bought the flat just before Christmas and started work on it in January. In the end we updated everything and it took a little longer than we hoped because our lovely builders were splitting their time between London and Dorset.

But we got there in the end and are thrilled with how it has turned out.

We bought the flat so that we could keep a base in London to use when we need to for work, but also something that we can rent out for holiday lets as this is something we have always wanted to do.

Finding the right property is always a challenge and we looked at many flats before finally choosing this one. We even had another one under offer, which sadly fell through after Brexit, but I always think these things happen for a reason as we love this one even more. Once the price was agreed (last August) it took many months to reach completion and wasn’t without its stresses (is it ever?!) I’ll actually be writing a post soon all about how to find the perfect renovation project, as it’s something I often get asked about.

This flat is on the lower ground of a beautiful building on Talbot Road. It’s such a perfect location as you are only five minutes walk to Westbourne Grove and Portabello Road. We chose a lower ground, as we knew we wanted a garden and this flat has the most lovely private terrace – it’s so secluded and really does feel like a lovely haven away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I have already installed a few plants in pots, but can’t wait to fill it with more and lots of fairy lights for romantic evening drinks and dinner.

Inside the flat we wanted to create a light, fresh and calm feel – we took influence mainly from Scandinavian apartments and commissioned the lovely and talented Kristin Gaudio Endsley to paint a Diptych as the central piece to the room (and to hide the TV!). The living room is a really good size and we really wanted to maximise this sense of space, so built a banquette in the corner for dining/working at. It’s a great way to save space and pretty cost effective too.

We painted the walls throughout the flat in the same colour; Farrow & Ball’s Strong White. When working with smaller spaces, using the same colour for all rooms creates a lovely sense of flow and I also think it makes the space feel bigger. The master bedroom design was inspired by a Slim Aaron’s photo that takes pride of place; a sense of calm with some pops of mid-century colour.

I really hope you like it and if you are looking for somewhere to stay in London then please do check it out on Airbnb, we would love to host you!

Laura x

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

Laura Butler-Madden's Notting Hill Flat

 

 

25 Beautiful Homes, April 2017

We are so thrilled that Kirkstall Road has been featured in the April edition of 25 Beautiful Homes. It’s always so exciting to get a project published in a glossy magazine – from styling and planning the shoot to seeing it in print can often take months (as it did in this case as we actually moved from the house last Autumn).

But it was actually so lovely to see it a few months after leaving the house – it made me feel a little nostalgic! I feel so blessed that we had the opportunity to own it for a few years. To renovate it and bring it back to life, to turn it back to it’s original form as one lovely house from two tired and worn out flats, and to pass it on to others to enjoy for many years to come. It was a pleasure to own and live in it and it’s lovely to now have this record in print.

I hope you have a wonderful long (and hopefully sunny) Easter weekend and see you next week!

Laura x

25 Beautiful Homes, April 2017

 

25 Beautiful Homes, April 2017

25 Beautiful Homes, April 2017

25 Beautiful Homes, April 2017

I have been fairly quiet over the past few months – working away behind the scenes on the blog’s new look, our new house, as well as a new website for interior design.

I have been getting more and more enquiries over the last year or so, which is very flattering, so I thought it time to take the plunge and put a portfolio website together online – the result is LBM Design Studio – I really hope you like it!

To celebrate the launch thought I would take a little trip down memory lane with you. Over the coming weeks I will share pictures of some of the rooms I have enjoyed designing the most as well as some of the rooms that have resonated most online, being shared on sites like Houzz and Pinterest.

First up is this lovely master bedroom in Battersea. It was one of the first projects I worked on and I loved this space so much – the striking wallpaper from Tapet Cafe, combined with Cornforth White paint from Farrow & Ball worked well together to create a lovely calming palette and a serene, elegant space. A calming colour palette is the basis of all bedrooms that I design – I really feel they should always be a luxurious sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the house.

The Vogue print in the picture above was a personal commission – I asked my talented friend Buzzy to paint it for me and he has since been asked to recreate it a few times after people have spotted it on Pinterest. I think it has been saved over 20,000 times in total, which is just amazing!

I hope you like this selection of images – if you want to recreate a look similar to this in your home, then sign up for blog updates or follow me on instagram, as I will be sharing a ‘Get the Look’ post here soon!

LBM

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Apologies for being AWOL for the past few weeks – P and I went on a wonderful trip to see friends in New England, and of the course the beautiful Fall, but I have been posting regular updates on Instagram

We have now we have returned to slight mayhem as we are in the final stages of work on the Dorset project. We are due to move in one month today and my goodness there is still a LOT to do. I will share an update post with you next week, but in the meantime I wanted to write about a few exciting things in my world that I haven’t had time to share with you yet.

The first is that I have been asked to write for amazing design website Houzz – it’s been a huge hit in the US for a number of years now and the UK version, which was launched a few years ago, is going from strength to strength – the site has millions and millions users worldwide, so needless to say I am thrilled to have been asked to join them as a guest contributor for the next few months.

You can read my first two features here and here and I will update you each month when I publish a new one. I will be writing about interiors topics and offering advice, so if there is anything you would like to hear about then please do let me know.

I am also thrilled to have been featured in the latest issue of Very magazine:

Finally, I have a sparkly new website in the pipeline. The blog will stay the same, but I will have a new website for my interior design work that will sit alongside the blog. I hope to be able to share the finished version with you in a few weeks time!

So all of that along with the culmination of the Dorset project and an imminent house move, is keeping me very busy, but I hope to be back to blogging as normal now.

See you next week with a Dorset project update and I will endeavour to share our wonderful trip in New England with you soon too!

LBM
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