Fireside Chat led by Mark Howarth with Philippa Somerset and Mia Kitsinis.

Somerset Estates works closely with some of the finest professionals in the industry, none more so than interior designers. Earlier this year we were delighted to collaborate with Studio Miaki on a property in Chelsea. The working partnership was incredibly strong and the finished result is something that we can be truly proud of. 

Mark Howarth, of Somerset Estates speaks to Philippa Somerset and Mia Kitsinis from Studio Miaki on how the partnership came about and what it is like to work on a high value property designed to be let.

Philippa (P): We were first introduced to our client when they purchased a traditional red brick apartment in Chelsea earlier this year, and were looking for a property management company. Naturally we were interviewed, along with various companies, and then successfully appointed. Our client was looking for a proactive, front facing company to work closely with them in partnership. 

Part of our initial brief was to recommend and lead on, in the first instance helping our client appoint an interior designer.

Our client was really impressed with Studio Miaki’s personal style and their portfolio. Coupled with the fact that they wouldn’t find themselves lost in a company that might otherwise be the driving force behind the project. 

Mia (M): Clients always want different things, but in this case they wanted that personal relationship.

I think the reason why they appointed us is because we’re very personable, and approachable. And we always create a really nice scene for them. We make it very easy and fun and enjoyable. 

In the past, we’ve taken on clients who either want to re-sell or let a property but it’s not something we do on a daily basis. We get this type of project done earlier, rather than in two or three years. It’s quite refreshing to see something turned around in six to eight weeks.

Mark: Was there anything else that you were struck by, in the first instance, for this particular opportunity?

M: Just managing the client’s expectations, and making sure that they weren’t going to become  too emotional over some of the design decisions. Because let’s not forget, this was a property that they were going to do up in order to rent it out. 

And sometimes you have to let the experts guide you in what the market requires, and what they’re looking for in that specific area, and who’s the demographic etc.

Mark asks: What were the expectations from the brief itself?

M: The brief was to dress the property so they could rent it on a short-term basis with the potential for our clients to use it. We began by asking ourselves, ‘who’s our demographic, and how much is it going to be rented out for?’

From there on, we started to think about selecting furniture. We did have some discussions with the client in terms of how they wanted to dress the two bedrooms and allow for office space. 

Mark: How do you ensure that the client is involved, but not too involved? 

M: This is where I think we set ourselves apart from other companies, because we’re very approachable, and we let our clients be part of the process. They are spending the money so we want them to approve of what we’re doing. 

We would meet regularly in person where possible and we want them to be excited about what we’re doing. I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving that meeting, if they’re not 100% on that.

Mark: Which features of the house made the project stand out?

M: I would say the open-plan living space was quite nice and airy, with lots of natural light coming through which was really, really nice to have, and you don’t get that sometimes. We were actually working with a very good base palette. It wasn’t just a white canvas. 

There were really nice wallpaper textures already in situ. We had really nice paint colours: the joinery in the kitchen was really well set out with excellent finishes. We embrace existing features and enhance them. 

Mark: Was there anything in particular that was difficult to overcome?

M: Yes, getting the sofas in, in December!! It was fun but that was a big challenge. You just have to be very creative and have great people working with you. The logistics company we use are just amazing. They’ll never let anything go. 

We had to dismantle the glass balustrade carefully to get the sofa up, and then we put it back, so then it was fine. You just have to overcome these things. There’s always a solution for everything.

Mark; did you have structural elements to deal with?

M: I would say we had one tricky elevation, which was the staircase coming up and behind the dining room. One side of the room was symmetrical, which was easy to work with but the opposite side of the room was quite asymmetric. 

We went really big on art and made it a feature of the room. And then on either side of the chimney breasts, we placed a sideboard and accessorised each one with a large mirror and some dried flowers to give height. The reflection from the mirrors made the space feel a lot bigger.

Mark: How did you find working with Somerset Estates? 

I think we worked really well together. Philippa’s team collaborate really well, they’re very efficient and great communicators. I think of them as an extended team to ours, which is a great relationship to have between interior designers and property managers.

Mark; over to you Philippa.. 

P: I’ll just echo exactly what Mia has said, in that it was a really good positive working experience and everything went really smoothly. And I think what was particularly good was that we all respected each other’s professions. 

And the client also respected our decision-making as well. And whilst they wanted to be very, very involved in the project, they gave us the space to do our work, and do it well. 

Mark; Obviously, your client was really easy to work with and respected your processes. If the client had been more opinionated, how would you deal with that?

M: Basically, I think if we had a difficult client, I would try to encourage a few more meetings, perhaps share a Pinterest board together, or send me things that they like to see in hotels to understand their tastes and try to get into their head more. It can really help in that instance.

Mark: Do you have anything else to add, Philippa?

P: It’s a case of understanding each client and their expectations. And sometimes, it could be that they might have had a bad experience in the past. That there might be something bigger at play. 

But fundamentally, it’s all about good communication, and seeing that personal side, particularly when you’re working in somebody’s home and property.

To conclude, this partnership was one of natural and strong collaboration. Communication between all parties was seamless and the highest standards of client care were maintained with meticulous attention to detail. This resulted in a very happy client. This project was incredibly successful and we look forward to many more, equally successful projects with Studio Miaki.

To hear more about our Property Management services, please get in touch with Philippa by calling +44 (0) 20 3457 2857 / +44 (0) 7904 607136 or emailing  info@somersetestates.com