The characteristics of Boutique

The word boutique instantly expresses exclusivity: a small shop with one-off pieces; a design-led hotel where no two bedrooms are the same; or a niche investment house which treats every client like family.

When it comes to residential, boutique is all of this and more. We examine the definition of boutique residential beyond size or geographies; exploring which characteristics come together in a unique blend to create some of London’s most desirable homes.

Architecturally different

One of the hallmarks of boutique residential schemes is their architecture. Often formed from refurbished buildings, previously used as offices, warehouses, or schools, elements of their original use are highlighted and celebrated. Period features, such as cornices, ceiling roses, fireplaces, wrought iron bannisters, or unusual fenestration, are not only retained, they become an important selling point for the property. The nature of these refurbished properties means that often no two units within a development are the same; buyers have the opportunity to buy a truly unique layout. The previous uses often add drama to a space, allowing increased ceiling heights, exposed wooden beams or brickwork walls, that simply wouldn’t feature in a modern new build.

Case study: architecturally different

Wardour Lofts

Wardour Lofts is a warehouse conversion in the heart of Soho, making it an extremely rare type of development. It has retained its print work history and features exposed brickwork, 200 year old reclaimed oak flooring, original exposed ceiling beams and an array of other strong design statements to provide the scheme with a distinctive loft feel.

The development effortlessly combines old with new, and has been thoughtfully furnished by Barlow & Barlow and Design Haus Liberty who worked on one flat each and both captured the feel of Soho perfectly.


Boutique  schemes often require specialised interior planning and architectural design, due to their creation within an existing building envelope, allowing greater room for originality in layouts. This presents the designers with a much bigger scope for creativity and innovation. Large open plan kitchen-diners, which are now the norm across modern housing stock, originated through creative use of loft-style spaces in converted buildings. The requirement for creativity has allowed previously unknown interior designers to make their mark on the residential market. Designers such as Dara Huang, Sophie Ashby and Martin Brudnizki have carved a niche for themselves as specialists in boutique residential schemes. Their name on a building adds both prestige and a mark of quality.

Case study: bespoke interiors

Beau House

Beau House is one of Dukelease’s latest developments and can be found amongst Jermyn Street’s array of period and modern buildings. It presents a handsome and confident new addition with its limestone exterior and bronze metal detailing. The finish is what we have come to expect of Dukelease: high quality, perfectly balanced and some of the finest attention to detail. Behind this striking façade is a London residence that blends timeless style, subtle luxury and cutting edge technology.

The interiors at Beau House are inspired by their namesake, Beau Brummell, the celebrated arbiter of men’s fashion in the late 18th century. The apartments have been designed to capture the sense of elegance, style and craftsmanship associated with the area. The classic blends seamlessly with the contemporary; curves sit alongside strong, linear features and there are bold design statements but also an overriding subtlety. The result is discreet, refined luxury - an ode to classical elegance.

Limited supply

The nature of office to residential conversions means that boutique residential schemes are typically smaller scale, delivering significantly fewer units. With current planning restrictions meaning fewer refurbishments are being consented, particularly in certain London boroughs such as Westminster, their exclusivity will only grow. This adds real rarity factor, which in turn drives high buyer demand. Boutique apartments are often snapped up by buyers before completion, and generally kept for a long time. This lack of supply drives the perception of  exclusivity and uniqueness.  

Case study: limited supply

The Beecham

The Beecham is a boutique nine unit scheme, located in the very heart of Covent Garden on the corner of Southampton Street and Henrietta Street, with views overlooking the world famous Covent Garden Piazza. The development features beautiful open plan kitchens and reception rooms, high quality appliances, and polished marble ensuite bathrooms, which make it one of the best on the market. There has clearly been an uncompromising approached to quality by CapCo, which is evident as soon as you enter the building.

The Beecham is one of the most valuable and successful developments in the Covent Garden area. The interiors have been carefully dressed by Bergan and Mar to compliment the luxurious feel of the building and the historic ambiance of the surrounding area. As one of only five residential buildings on the Covent Garden Piazza, its apartments are a limited commodity, and in high demand.

Unique and special

Above all, the features of boutique residential correlate to an individuality of each scheme. This in turn usually attracts a certain sort of buyer: they tend to be owner occupiers, buying for the lifestyle not investment, who fall in love with a characterful property. Buyers understand that by buying in a boutique scheme, they’re getting a home that is truly unique.

Case study: unique and special

3–4 Great Marlborough Street

3-4 Great Marlborough street is a fantastic boutique development behind a distinctive Victorian façade. The development consists of four unique flats offering high ceilings, large entertainment space and feature fireplaces.

The modern bathrooms are equipped with designer sanitary ware, underfloor heating and luxury walk-in frameless showers. The penthouse is complete with composite decking timber benching and privacy screens. Interiors provide contemporary calm amidst the buzz with comfort cooling and underfloor heating to all living areas and bedrooms, high ceilings, full-height doors, oak floors and feature fireplaces. Natural light floods in from the sash windows to large open plan living spaces which fully shows off the wonderful dressing designed by Studio Suss. Buyers have fallen in love with the unique spaces in this excellent and exciting location, in the heart of Soho.

Customised service

Advising developers through creative consultancy, and then selling boutique stock, requires a different approach to typical high street agency. To really sell the benefits and advantages of living in a unique, sought after home, with quirky architectural and design features, agents have to help shape a truly remarkable product. This is characterised by bespoke, customised service to both developers and buyers, ensuring the perfect match.

This is why CBRE has created a specialist boutique residential team, dedicated to helping clients deliver remarkable properties, and to helping buyers find their own unique home.