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6 Interior Designer tips for creating fabulous show flats that sell. Camilla of Element Studios shares some proven ways to entice buyers.

The conversion of The Market Building in Brentford was the third of three projects Element Studios worked on for Verve Properties. It involved turning what had been offices into swanky residential apartments fitted out on a tight budget. Most were sold within a day.

Here's our recipe for commercial success when fitting out show flats.

STEP ONE: Choose a theme.

Having a really strong theme gives you some definite parameters to work within when putting together your ideas.  With so much choice in the shops, it’s easy to get sidetracked and for the design to become muddied with all sorts of references. Having a strong theme will keep you on track.

For The Market Building, we chose a “Mad-Men” theme.  The hit US TV series is of the same period as the building and encapsulated a style consistent with Verve’s commercial objectives.  The aim was to appeal to a much younger market; hence the use of bright colours.  Element specified pops of coloured neon lighting, modern materials and funky furniture including vintage re-used and re-upholstered items.

STYLE DOESN'T HAVE TO BE EXPENSIVE

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STEP TWO: Communal spaces.

Small city flats need communal spaces, especially flats aimed at a younger market.  In fact, all flats in cities should have communal spaces, they provide opportunities for conversation, getting to know your neighbours, fun interactions, and opportunities for chance meetings.

In the Market Building Element fitted out a courtyard garden, a cinema, a post area, and a relaxed common-room with a hot-desking/coffee shop vibe. Again, the theme continued into these areas where a bit of fun was introduced in the lighting scheme with the introduction of brightly coloured strip lighting, a cinema-style ceiling light and a cluster of recycled cardboard pendant lights.

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STEP THREE: Mix vintage with high street.

Element Studios scoured on-line and trawled junk shops to source truly original retro 1950s pieces to add authenticity to the theme.  Chairs were re-upholstered in retro fabrics using 50s and 60s prints. The shops are full of these at them moment and they can be picked up at very reasonable prices. Find a good upholsterer and you’re away!  Element mixed repurposed furniture with new value high street finds.  They did the same with the lighting; reconditioned industrial lights from vintage shops are mixed with off the shelf lighting fittings.

STEP FOUR: Get things made.

The client had an image of a fabulous yellow lacquered table he just loved and wanted one for the common room area.  Element Studios commissioned a copy which was made by a carpenter exactly how the client had imagined it.

STEP FIVE: Statement lighting.

Lighting is always a priority, arguably more so in a statement residential building like this. Element Studios sourced vibrant retro high street finds in bright neon, and mixed this with the Mad-Men 50s theme, and recycled cardboard pendants which introduced a bit of fun into the postal area.

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STEP FIVE: Statement lighting.

Finally, there’s only one thing to do to get the job done.  Roll up your sleeves and get on site. The end of a job is always stressful, and exciting; contractors are finishing off their final bits of work and completing snagging items, opening day is looming.  See Camilla here as she goes on site prepared and ready to get to work putting the finishing touches to the show flats before launch day.

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