Stylish Conversions and Interior Design Combined by The Malins Group 

Posted 29 November 2017 by Keith Osborne

This week we speak to Lauren Atkins, managing director of The Malins Group

This week’s exclusive interview from the new homes sector is with Lauren Atkins, managing director of The Malins Group, a property development and investment company working in and around London.

Please tell us a little about yourself and The Malins Group.

I am the managing director of The Malins Group, a mother to my nine-year-old daughter Bella and the patron of women’s charity Aurora New Dawn.

Founded in 1972 The Malins Group, an award-winning aggregate of private property companies and trusts, is owned and controlled by the Atkins family. The Group has established itself as a dynamic and entrepreneurial property development and investment company.

We are highly acquisitive, high-performing, cash purchasers with the capability to contract in 24 hours for the right opportunities.

The Malins Group has significant experience of acquiring both development and investment properties with a 45-year history in the property market. With a strong design ethos our products are innovative and highly desirable. We have long-standing relationships with architects, planning consultants, structural engineers, viability assessors and an in-house design studio and build team.

Our end-to-end operation is seamless and highly scalable.

What projects are you currently working on? Are there particular types of development you specialise in?

The Malins Group specialises in the conversion of buildings with an interesting history or provenance, including period properties, mews schemes, warehouses and industrial enclaves to provide 10-50 units and larger commuter lifestyle build to rent schemes. We have previously driven the residential conversion of the Apple Apartments, a boutique development of the Beatles’ former headquarters in Marylebone, and The Book House, a development of the historic home of the Booker Prize in Wandsworth.

Our latest project, The Metalworks in Clapham Old Town, is a redevelopment of a former art metal works factory that was latterly a commercial office. In our redesign we have brought back to life the industrial heritage of the building, which is the site where Arts and Crafts pioneer William Bainbridge Reynolds plied his craft as a metal worker, who famously created the Kitchener chapel gates at St Paul’s Cathedral.

My design of such developments always starts with the history of the building or site – so that each of our developments is unique. At The Metalworks, I have incorporated different types of metals throughout the design of the development in recognition of the site’s former industrial purpose. For example, in the fitted kitchens I have incorporated bold copper sinks and splashbacks and have commissioned bespoke ironmongery such as for the vanity units we have designed for the bathrooms. We have restored the fenestrations with black aluminium window frames as well as original metal Juliet balconies and classic coach lamps in the communal courtyard.

I’ve also used the copper theme in the courtyard by installing large copper planting troughs in the landscaping, and have had specially designed iron cart tracks set within the paving to bring back to life the means by which metal materials would have been brought in and out of the old warehouse. I have also commissioned a modern interpretation of a clock Reynolds designed for St Cuthberts church in Earls Court to be installed in the courtyard, along with a tablet that will depict the history of the site and Reynolds’ life works. It is important to me to tell the story of the sites that we develop in our end design and to create homes that offer buyers something that is unique.

Please tell us about the end-to-end service that The Malins Group provides.

We provide an end-to-end service in-house, from the conception and design of our developments to the hard finishes of our properties, the design of our show properties and offering a full interior design service to our buyers.

We personally design the interiors of all our show properties to add a personal touch that my buyers have said they really recognise and appreciate. We have an in-house design studio, The Malins Design Studio, which carries out all the initial design, through which we offer our interior design service and can commission the manufacture of specific furniture pieces for our clients.

We think of this as a truly bespoke service and feel it gives us a design edge because we can create furniture ourselves to fit the spaces that we’re designing and allows us to offer a seamless end-to-end service.

Is interior design a crucial part of attracting buyers, not just at a show home but also in their own new homes?

Through The Malins Design Studio we offer a bespoke in-house interior design service through which we can design and commission the manufacture of bespoke furniture pieces for our clients.

I’ve always had a passion for interior design, and like the fact that I can think of a design and have it created through the Design Studio. My home has a lot of my own furniture, and I’m often told I need to get into clothes design because so many times I go shopping for an outfit I have in my head and I come home disappointed as I can never find it; with furniture I don’t need to be disappointed as I can simply design my idea and have it made!

I think interior design is a crucial part of attracting buyers – when people view a show home at a development they need to be able to envision themselves living there, particularly if the development is a long way off from completion, and interior design is a key way of helping purchasers to see my own vision. Without the soft furnishings and personal touches that make a show home feel homely, I don’t think you can reasonably expect someone to imagine themselves living there.

What we are also noticing is that buyers, particularly in the commuter market, increasingly want a home that is individual in some way, and offering a bespoke interior design service is a crucial way of delivering this as we can design our homes exactly as our buyers want them, with the ease of all of our services being under one roof.

What are the current trends in interior design and can homeowners on a budget meet them?

Moody dark hues, metal interiors, anything pink or Monochrome is the strongest look this season. Floral wallpaper is back with a vengeance and houseplants are currently huge.

If people are on a budget they need to hunt out the styles that they want and copy the look with cheaper alternatives. I think that with some time and effort most looks can be recreated on a low budget.

How does the Malins Group approach differ from other housebuilders?

I believe that the end-to-end service that we offer is unusual and I would hope that those who purchase or rent our properties believe we offer something different in terms of style and finish.

Can you tell us about any future projects you are planning?

We have just purchased Epsom Police Station and while this will be a new build scheme, my vision is to create a building that encompasses many ‘period features of the future’. I have never been inclined to bring to market standard schemes because buyers are sophisticated and shouldn’t be expected to accept the status quo. I feel a responsibility to create a legacy of my work which enhances the street scene for the future. Anchor

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