Opulence in Outhouses: London's Million-Dollar Mews

For many, the stereotypical image of a million-dollar abode is still a large, detached mansion adorned with a pool and an assortment of the latest sports cars. In reality, the United Kingdom’s (and many of the world's) home-seekers may be opting for quarters that look a little more humble, in exchange for prime location, design or some other element that made them more appealing. An increasing number of home buyers are opting to buy mews in major cities and renovate them to their own high standards. Let's take a quick look at why some are shunning sprawling mansions and pre-planned penthouses in favor of the more compact luxury of these old outhouses.

From Outhouse to Penthouse: a Short History of Mews

Mews houses began their rags-to-riches transformation in the 1960's and 70's, when fashionable figures like Michael Caine, James Hunt and Francis Bacon took up residence in mews. Before this, they had been largely overlooked. Built during the 18th and 19th-centuries, mews were small groups of stables and outhouses that served the larger houses nearby. Many of them were built to accompany the multi-story townhouses in the new Victorian developments of Hyde Park, Kensington and Mayfair. Some of them were residential, occupied by maids and servants, but for the most part they were filled with hay, horses, and the inevitable consequence of that combination—manure. Hardly a natural choice of dwelling for any discerning millionaire, but something about mews captured the imagination of wealthy buyers.

The average price of a mews home in London rose rapidly between the 1970's and the present day. One particular property, which sold for £200,000 in the 1980's, was valued at £2 million ($2.5 milion) in 2007, and would likely sell for even more today. It’s not just time and popularity that has raised the prices on these high end mews. The most luxurious London mews have been renovated to extremely high standards, with new modern fixtures installed, both practical and extravagant. These new renovations have made the properties even more desirable and expensive.

Caitlyn Stevens

Caitlyn Stevens is a journalist based in London who covers the environment, business, and the luxury lifestyle. She is currently freelancing her way around the capital. ...(Read More)

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