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Image by Michael D Beckwith

An alluring class of home is hiding in plain sight

Charlie Burton - Senior Commissioning Editor at GQ

Cuvelo is an innovative estate agency that filters the London property market for beautifully refurbished, fully furnished homes - so buyers can move in right away

Life is full of frictions, but just as the body adjusts to its niggles, so too does your mind learn to overlook the world’s shortcomings. In fact, it’s often only when a forward-thinking company sets its sights on fixing them that you notice what a problem they were – and then you really can’t stop noticing.


Right now, a new start-up is taking on inadequacies in the property market. Cuvelo, founded by Patrick Dougherty and Costanza Ranieri, has noticed a vexation baked into how people buy homes – one that seems so inevitable it was just grudgingly accepted. Let us explain. If you’re buying a home, you typically have to choose between two options. On the one hand, it’s the home with history. This could be as recent as a Sixties terrace or as old as a period cottage. Such buildings have plenty to be said for them: they are characterful, charming and individual – and in buying one you are keeping history alive. Of course, they also have a downside. More often than not the interiors are either outmoded – the archetypal “fixer-upper” – or they have been renovated but not in a way that any reasonable person would consider refined or distinctive. To take on this kind of property, then, is to take on a project – one that will sap time, money and effort. And the worst thing? By the time it is finally finished, you might well be ready to move onto your next home.


So, what’s the alternative? Well, in most instances, it’s buying a new build. But that too has serious drawbacks. One is space. Developers want to maximise return on investment and get as many properties as possible out of the same footprint. That means room sizes and outdoor areas can veer towards what might charitably be described as “intimate”. Another big issue is lack of community. By definition, available sites for new builds are typically on the edge of things rather than in the middle of them. These buildings lead the charge for establishing new areas, but you may not be around to see that area truly find its feet. Oh, and once you’ve moved in, who’s to say you won’t discover that behind the shiny veneers lie lacklustre workmanship, shoddy plumbing and countless snags?


This predicament is precisely what has caught the imagination of Dougherty and Ranieri. Cuvelo is a filter in the property market that scours London for beautifully refurbished houses and flats in great locations. Its founders see this as a whole separate category of home, fundamentally distinct from new builds (with their one-size-fits-all decorator schemes, compromised layouts and sub-optimal addresses) and also from typical second-hand stock (with their dated interiors or below-par refurbs and the inevitable prospect of stressful future works).


The team behind Cuvelo has a longstanding background in interior design, and they bring their well-trained eyes to the process – they will only list the most extraordinary properties. All of the homes they offer are fully furnished and key into contemporary design trends, so buyers can move in straight away. Crucially, Cuvelo offers a one-year warranty on all their sales, assuaging any concerns about snagging. 


As for attracting sellers, the pitch is simple: Cuvelo understands exactly what makes these labours of love so special, and can present them intelligently and with all the production values of a glossy magazine – the company uses photographers who specialise in architecture, interiors and lifestyle. For homeowners who need to bring their property up to Cuvelo standard first, in order to tap into the site’s engaged audience, the company also offers an in-house styling service.


And now you’ve become attuned to this category of home, here’s a bet: you’re not going to un-see it.

Charlie Burton

Charlie Burton is the Senior Commissioning Editor of GQ, the leading UK men’s lifestyle magazine, and also its technology columnist. He writes monthly commentary on the technology-driven trends that are changing the world and co-edits the publication’s tech reviews. Charlie Burton was formerly the Associate Editor of Wired magazine, the monthly chronicle of disruptive ideas and innovations, to which he continues to contribute articles. His first book, How To Win At Life, a collection of interviews with world experts about the things they do best, is out now. Follow him on Twitter @charlie_burton and Instagram @charlieburtongq

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