Select (furniture rental by design) Old Vicarage and Town House project with Louise MacDonnell
Bespoke Dress to Sell project
With more than 20 years’ experience creating amazing spaces and unique homes, architect Louise McDonnell, founder of high-end design and development firm, McDonnell Associates, and famed for her Violin Factory project, which appeared on Grand Designs, has developed a great eye for design detail. With the award-winning firm’s latest ambitious project in a hidden oasis in Old Isleworth, this attention to detail has resulted in two inspiring homes.
Louise has cleverly renovated a former vicarage and created a new townhouse, and with help from experts at Roomservice by CORT, she has set off her vision perfectly, bringing the spaces to life with carefully chosen furniture and furnishings, telling a story to captivate and inspire prospective buyers.
Purchased at auction three years ago, The Old Vicarage was formerly home to the reverend of All Saints Church. Originating from the Victorian era, a time of booming industry in the area, the vicarage has served a variety of purposes over its 150 years, harbouring untold secrets within its walls.
Making the most of this mystery and secrecy, the design aspect of the Old Vicarage has created private hidden spaces the new owners can discover and enjoy, a concept that is echoed in the three-storey townhouse.
As with most projects, Louise had a clear vision for the style of each property, and set about identifying the right team to help her dress each home, ready for sale, and turn her vision into a reality.
She comments: “The end product is always much more appealing when you can actually dress and style a property, so it was important for us to get that right, with potential buyers in mind. As much as we have to stay relatively neutral, and keep the style classic, the addition of the right, carefully-chosen furnishings can help to bring a property to life and accentuate the architectural features and design.
“I contacted a number of furnishing specialists but I was most impressed by Roomservice by CORT’s approach. It was obvious they too were excited about this project and enthusiastic about working with me to deliver something special. After talking to Alison (pictured to the right), one of their in-house designers, through my designs, floor plans and mood boards, we developed a great rapport and I knew I could trust Roomservice to do an amazing job. The flexibility of the rental package and the enthusiasm and expertise with which they approached this project was a winning combination for me.”
Whilst many developers prefer to offer a ‘blank canvas’ for prospective buyers to use their imagination and put their own stamp on, Louise instinctively knew that these two properties, far from the typical open-plan and simple layouts, would need something unique. She continues:
“The reality is that some people are really baffled by space – when faced with a vast cavern of white, it’s difficult to get a concept of scale and volume. Dressing a home takes real skill, it’s about striking the perfect balance and telling the right story. Working with Roomservice, I was able to set the perfect tone, and I think the end result really works.
“We have managed to inject more personality into the spaces – there is a great balance between highlighting and elevating certain aspects, and keeping an element of mystery and privacy. The furniture and dressing in each building, very distinct in its style and design narrative, helps to draw you into the building and hints at the kind of lifestyle the owner can enjoy.”Although dressing a home is very much a finishing touch, Louise approaches all her projects with ‘living’ in mind. She adds:
“People have to be able to live in these homes, so I’m always thinking about key pieces of furniture, lighting, and decoration at the early design stage. You need to have a vision for how people will use the rooms and spaces, whether formally or informally. This is why working with Roomservice was so successful - they really understood my vision of how I wanted each house to flow and the character I wanted to portray with the furnishings, artwork and accessories.”
For such a special project Louise took advantage of Roomservice’s bespoke ‘Select’ service, allowing the team to source and select key pieces to meet Louise’s brief, resulting in show-stopping rooms and an added wow-factor for potential buyers. Whilst Roomservice retains excellent supply chains, bespoke items can have a longer lead time. However, with Select, similar standard stock items can be used in the interim, whilst awaiting delivery of the bespoke pieces. This service allowed Louise to select the bespoke pieces she really liked, but with immediate stand-in pieces, she was able to get both properties fully-dressed, in time for them to be photographed and put on the market.
As well as the furniture, Roomservice selected all the artwork, rugs and dress accessories. Such was the success of this project, Louise is already briefing Roomservice on her requirements for her next project. She summarises her experience working with Roomservice:
“We like to have a very collaborative relationship with all of our suppliers and Roomservice by CORT complemented us perfectly. I am always very reassured by their level of service, response and understanding of what I wanted to achieve. Architects are typically known to be very protective of their projects, understandably so – I am no different. I wouldn’t trust just anyone to furnish one of my projects. However, with Roomservice, it was hassle-free, and they didn’t let me down. The turnaround time was extremely quick, and it was all delivered to site on time, which was crucial when we had a deadline to meet. The bespoke items arrived quicker than expected, and Roomservice has been extremely efficient in swapping the bespoke items in with the minimum of fuss. We now have a great long-term relationship and I look forward to working with them on our next project.”
Renting furniture means that there is minimal hassle for the client. Roomservice can rent furniture from 1 month onwards and remove the furniture whenever the property sells, but equally, if the new property owner wishes to purchase some or all of the items, this can also be negotiated. A truly flexible service.
Roomservice by CORT Roomservice by CORT is a wholly owned subsidiary of CORT, the world’s largest furniture rental business, a Berkshire Hathaway company owned by Warren Buffett. Roomservice by CORT is a specialist in designing and furnishing residential property interiors, on a rental basis, offering its clients flexible furnishing solutions that are evolving to respond to changes in the market. Roomservice by CORT has been furnishing properties for over 30 years and its partnerships with the property industry are going from strength to strength. The company’s client base continues to expand and includes sales and lettings agents, private individuals, blue chip corporate, build-to-rent and relocation companies, and corporate landlords and developers in the growing build to rent sector.
For further information please visit www.roomservicebycort.com or call 020 8397 9344.
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The Old Vicarage and The Townhouse, at 41 Church Street, TW7 is available for sale – contact Hamptons International, Richmond on 0208 340 2772.