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

I am so excited to share the before pictures of a project very close to our hearts. P and I, along with our wonderful team, have been working for the past few months on this beautiful Victorian carriage house in the heart of the breathtaking Dorset countryside. It has been a hugely challenging, but we are really starting to make headway and see this historic building come to life again, which is both exciting and rewarding in equal measure. Prior to us taking it on, it had been divided up into three flats and lived in for a number of years without much updating taking place, so as you can see from the pictures, there was a lot to do!

Over coming weeks and months I will share updates on the work and I can’t wait to see the finished home, which we hope to be moving into in time for Christmas, if not a little earlier. Spending time in Dorset has been such a pleasure! One of the most beautiful counties in the UK, it’s where I was born and I actually grew up only fifteen minutes from this house. P and I were also both at school nearby, so it really does feel like coming home for both of us. 

LBM
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It’s September and there is a distinct feeling of Autumn in the air – I love this time of year, it always gives me that ‘back to school’ feeling and I have to resist buying a new pencil case to celebrate! Perfectly fitting with the time of year, we are starting work on our new project; a beautiful Victorian house in a Conservation Area in South-West London. 

The house is currently split into two flats so our first challenge is to get planning permission to convert back into a single dwelling. We have spoken with the council, who say that this fits with their plans for the area, so fingers crossed the application will go smoothly. Once that’s happened we will then start work on a full refurbishment and rear extension to create a lovely kitchen and dining area.


Here are some initial pictures of the house – I’m so excited to bring it back to it’s best – so many beautiful features and so much potential…

LBM
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{Images via Patrick Butler-Madden}

Happy Friday!

I arrived back from beautiful Sri Lanka yesterday morning and although missing the warmth, the stunning scenery and lovely people there, I am also pleased to be back home with Coco and Lola and ready to get back to work. There are so many exciting plans for this year both with my work and with Little Miss Homes, the first of which is our new development project that is now well underway. It’s a stunning Victorian Villa in a South West London conservation area – I will share the before pictures with you next week!

For now I wanted to share these pictures of the master bedroom in our most recent project. We extended into the loft to and instead of splitting the space into two smaller bedrooms, we chose to create one large generous space, combining bedroom, en suite shower room and walk in wardrobe. The property is a 1930s house so there was a lot of height that we could use for the conversion,as well as being semi-detached so we could extend to the rear and the side, so you don’t have the cramped feeling you sometimes get up the roof. We designed the large windows to add character to space and to create a slightly New England feel, which is a style I am just loving at the moment.

The colour palette was chosen to create a sense of serenity and calm with plush carpet, marble tiles in the bathroom and a walk in wardrobe adding a bit of glamour to the space. The dressing table and mirror were chosen to compliment the 1930s origin of the house. 

If you would like to create a look similar to this in your home, then scroll to the end of the post for all the supplier information.

Have a gorgeous weekend and see you next week.

LBM
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{Photography by Butler-Madden Photography}
GET THE LOOK: Walls are painted in Cornforth White by Farrow & Ball, the mirror above the sink are from a Swedish Boutique, Betsy Dressing Table is from Graham & Green. The large floor mirror is from An Angle At My Table. The marble bathroom tiles are from Fired Earth and the carpet is from a range at The Carpet Bureau in Battersea.

These pictures are of the master bedroom in a project that I recently completed in Battersea. It’s possibly my favourite bedroom to date as I loved the light airy space; it is a West facing room so the sunshine floods in during the day and the soothing colour palette that we chose helps to make it a calming and serene space to relax in day or night.

The art deco accents give the space character; the wallpaper, chandelier and walnut dressing table all were inspired by my love of the 1920s. I loved working with the original features in the room as well as reinstating them where they had been taken out; the fireplace we moved from another room to reinstate this important feature in the master bedroom. In Victorian houses all living rooms and bedrooms would have had a fireplace, as it was their only form of heating. They are usually very decorative and unique, like the one in these pictures.

The cornicing and ceiling rose were also carefully stripped back and then repainted to give a fresh clean finish and I added a number or mirrors for further accentuate the light in the space and reflect the beautiful wallpaper throughout.

The carpet we chose is a super luxurious bamboo blend, which I adore and will definitely be using again. It’s a great way to differentiate between the master bedroom and other bedrooms, as well as adding a bit of luxury to the space.

The before picture of the room is below – if you would like to create a look similar to this in your home, then scroll to the end of the post for all the supplier info! 

LBM

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{Photography by Patrick Butler-Madden}

GET THE LOOK: Walls are painted in Cornforth White by Farrow & Ball, Art Deco Wallpaper is by Tapet Cafe. Mirrors are from An Angel At My Table and Graham & Green, the dressing table was made by our carpenter from walnut parquet flooring and the 1920s dressing table mirror was from eBay, but similar are available from online vintage store Loop the Loop.