I fall in love every day
When my business partner asked me to write a blog about what I love in our industry, I said “that’s a book, not a blog, crazy guy”. With so many ways to tackle this subject and with Valentine’s Day approaching, I’ve narrowed it down to the projects CATO fell in love with.
I should be honest, not every project was love at first sight. But, as the designs evolved with guidance and direction from our enthusiastic team, and the build sites developed from often the bog standard, to enlightened living spaces, the joy that the projects brought is akin to a little romance – and they still make my heart jump a little.
I’ve chosen my top 3 that just make me smile when I talk to potential new clients as CATO nailed the brief. The delivered projects, all very different to each other, clearly created the space that our clients can now relax in – each one unique to their owner.
Brewhouse Lane, Putney SW15
The original space, designed by one of the many river front property developers in the 1990s, just didn’t capitalise on the stunning views up the River Thames. The client already had an idea to knock through a dividing wall to ‘un-box’ the kitchen and swap its location with the living area.
CATO creative provided a variety of initial designs to help conceptualise how the space could work for the family – both practically and aesthetically. Having agreed a general layout, the detail of finishes was debated and a contractor with extensive cabinetry experience got to grips with the site. Over a 14-week build programme the team transformed the space – it’s unexpected and it takes your breath away.
And just on the subject of ‘love’, the usual adage of having to work at a relationship holds true in our industry too. Not everything always goes to plan, this site had a mouse invasion and mid-build, had water trickling down the inside walls from a flat roof above (both caused by poor building infrastructure), yet the CATO-builder-client relationship developed in strength. It was a true team love-in!
Linver Road, Fulham SW6
This project could have been a ‘normal’ terrace side return extension and interior upgrade. However, the client had other plans and they enthusiastically set CATO the challenge; ‘create a high-spec, darkly elegant and luxurious family home. Oh, and keep it practical’.
With the gauntlet down, CATO set about offering a range of styles to ensure that we matched the client’s expectations. And throughout the design and build process CATO had to ensure that the various on-site contractors maintained the precision finishes needed. Not always the easiest thing to instil with builders – however we have a raft of exceptional contractors whom we have developed tight working practices with. They know the type of clients CATO has and our expectations to deliver the approved design. In my 20+ years in the business it’s the relationship I work hardest at. The client is always king but it’s the builder who polishes the crown.
I digress a little, the sophisticated finish of this home is truly a masterclass in relationship building. CATO does ‘sweat the small stuff’, it’s what our clients expect from their partner… and this really was a strong partnership built on both parties wanting to create a home that’s talked about.
Doneraile Street, Fulham SW6
You would never believe what lies behind the front door of this ‘standard’, yet large 4 bed Victorian terraced home. From the moment you open the heavy period door, the living space beyond defies any preconceptions.
What was once a well-loved family home needed not only TLC but also to go beyond the norm. Our client asked for an architecturally stunning, future-proofed renovation that balanced modernity with still offering a practical and liveable home. Being open to all ideas to increase their investment, CATO’s team carefully developed the budget plan to ensure that the client didn’t over-invest and their returns would be protected.
With a south-facing garden, light is what makes this home a magnificent living space. The clever use of glass brings unprecedented light into the completely new lower ground floor stretching the full length of the original footprint. The intricacies and angles could have you wandering the place for hours. The new light aspects just make you smile. Like you’ve been on a first date and you want to see them again. Now who says money can’t buy you love?!
So, crazy guy, challenge accepted, blog written… CATO cracked these challenging properties and as we learnt the beautiful nuances of each space, so the love grew.