In conversation with Temza’s Managing Director Sonia Pash

Decorating and accessorising is crucial when it comes to rental properties and here at Temza Interior Design Studio we know that. Not only we are aware of the topic, but our MD, Sonia Pash has years of experience working in the real estate industry. The passion for properties and gained expertise in the field started Temza London as a company and later got Sonia and Pawel to purchase and renovate their first house in London. Today we are discussing the interior design of the space, the challenges and opportunities and the in general how to plan a rental refurbishment. Read the interview with Sonia below.

Hi Sonia! Before we start talking about design, what would you advise to someone who is about to enter the London property market as a prospective landlord?

The property market can look very scary from the outside, but it’s a great way to make your savings work harder for you, and you only need a deposit worth to join the game. The great thing about investing in rental properties in London is not just being able to obtain additional income from rent. As you are paying back your mortgage you are building up an asset for yourself, and the value is continuously going up with the property prices, so if you do want to sell it on and invest into something else eventually, you can do that with an additional profit. Not to mention if you are completing a smart refurbishment, you are already increasing the value of the property beyond the refurbishment cost.

Living room in Shepherds Bush, London before renovation
residential interior design for spacious living room with designers furniture and unique accessories, Shepherd's Bush, London

Looking at the beautiful refurbishment Temza completed at Bentworth Road, it's easy to see how that's true. What are some ways you managed to add value to this property?

The highest increase in value is usually coming from an increase in floor space. Think rear or side extension, basement conversion or basement extension or loft conversion. Additional living spaces can also be created in the garden, such as a working shed or studio space in a freestanding building. At Bentworth Road we completed a rear extension under Permitted Development which was a real game changer in how the size of the house is now perceived.

For refurbishing rental properties, in particular, finding the space for additional bathrooms are one of the most practical ways to add value, and this is a hack we also utilised in this refurbishment. We managed to incorporate an additional shower room with a toilet and vanity unit space under the staircase, simply converting dead space. When it comes to the rental market, forget the Pinterest boards and even the idea of a grand bathroom with a lion leg tub.

If you can squeeze in a small guest cloakroom, I promise you tenants will see it as an extra. You have to create something that is in line with the expectations in your area and that you can rent out on an affordable price. Be realistic and aim for practicality and solutions that are useful for everyday people as opposed to something that would look pretty on Instagram or suit your personal style but make the refurbishment cost skyrocket.

White kitchen in shepherds bush before renovation
residential interior design for light open plan kitchen and living room with bright designers furniture, white bespoke cabinets and unique accessories, Shepherds Bush, london

Are there some things you would do when refurbishing a rental property that you wouldn't do when working on someone's house? Do you need to approach the project differently?

There is a lot of advice to be given that is true across the board when it comes to any refurbishing, but there are also noticeable differences. What you do want to keep in mind, is even when you buy a house for yourself and your family, the chances are that you won’t live there forever. If you have an idea for how long you are planning to live there, that can help you a lot with how much should you be aiming to personalise the space to your taste and lifestyle.

If you are aiming for the rental market, the number of bedrooms you have will be the most significant contributor to the yield you can achieve. Thus it makes sense to consider even significant layout changes if that means you can add a room. At Bentworth Road we have converted the upstairs layout from 3 to 4 bedrooms within the same floor space. It’s a tricky thing to do; however, we made sure to add plenty of built-in storage to each bedroom, so even though they are smaller, they are much more practical than previously!

residential interior design for spacious living room with designers furniture and unique accessories, Shepherd's Bush, London
residential interior design for spacious living room with designers furniture and unique accessories, Shepherd's Bush, London

What are renters looking for in a house?

Every area is different, and you have to use your common sense to determine how you can put your best foot forward, but there is a place for advice that works across the board. A clean interior design style, a functional kitchen, cosy communal space and plenty of storage floats every boat. The best approach is choosing neutral, durable and timeless finishes, so tenants can easily accessorise the space to reflect their style. At Bentworth Road we opted for wide whitewashed oak plank flooring, light grey walls and handle-less white kitchen with white quartz worktop, which we find to be the interior equivalent of wearing blue jeans and a white T.

In line with your expectations

One of our pet peeves at Temza London (only we call it attention to detail) is misaligned tiling layouts. When specifying tiling for your bathroom interior design always consider the sizes and imagine how to wall and floor tile will look together. If they happen to be completely different size or format, you won’t be able to align them anyhow properly. In this case, it’s still worth to consider one line in the bathroom that’s significant in terms of the space and have them aligned in at least that line.

However, the problem arises when you do have the same format on the floor and the wall, but for some strange reason, your tiler thought it’s best to forget about how these two surfaces will meet completely. An equally bad practice – in our opinion – is choosing wall and floor tiles that are almost the same size – but not entirely. If these are laid to align, they will eventually become misaligned. We are all about the details and proud to say that most of our clients appreciate our approach!

The easiest way to get a good idea of the outcome is by creating detailed bathroom plans and elevations. This way, we can orchestrate all the details and can make sure that we communicate these clearly to the tiler. We suggest you do the same on your project!

Kitchen in Shepherds Bush before renovation
residential interior design for light open plan kitchen and living room with bright designers furniture, white bespoke cabinets and unique accessories, Shepherds Bush, london

In your experience from managing a London refurbishment company, what is the single mistake you would say people run into during the process?

By having been through the refurbishment process many times over, I have insight into hundreds of problems that can come up. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of the mistakes that can cause the biggest headaches are super simple to avoid.

It is usually not apparent to people who are new to rental house refurbishment is that ‘changing your mind’ costs time and money. And you can avoid most of these problems by merely spending time at the start of the process with yourself, your business partner, your family or whoever will make decisions with you on the project, and make a thought through plan. The more time you invest into research and planning at the initial stage the less time you need to send making it up on the go when you have workers on site you need to pay by the day and material that needs to be ordered for the schedule to be kept.

Building materials aren’t like outfits from Asos. Once you have a palette of tiles on site that got shipped there from Spain and you realise that you prefer wood effect over concrete effect and you’d like a swap, it will cost you hefty delivery charges and up to 50% restocking fee. You have to treat your architect or designer’s time very much the same way as well. If you are past the stage when the construction drawings package is prepared when you realise you must to swap the position of the bathroom and the utility room, don’t be surprised that many companies will charge you for their time to update the drawing package.

Sonia Pash, co-founder of Temza design and build studio, with Joy the vizsla, designer dog
residential interior design for spacious living room with designers furniture and unique accessories, Shepherd's Bush, London

Here at Temza Design Studio, we always go the extra mile to make sure clients understand what they are getting, and they are happy with all of their decisions before proceeding to the next stage. We spend the time to discuss the details, provide accurate drawings, samples and specification packages, mood boards, CGIs, or whatever we can come up with that will help people visualise the final result. For a particular project, we created life-size cut outs… However, that’s probably a story for another time!

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Sonia Pash, shares the interior design insights of Temza’s completed Bentworth Road project and explains how to plan a rental refurbishment.
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Since 2012, we have delivered over 50 projects to our happy clients. Our meticulous project management and attention to detail ensure projects are delivered on time and within the budget. We take a friendly and flexible approach to problem solving, resulting in a hassle-free and enjoyable customer experience.


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