Here we go again. Tiny flat attracts offer of pounds 410,000

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The Independent Online
CRUMBLING, IT may be. Damp, certainly. But there is one thing the bijou artist's studio is definitely, absolutely not. "It's not a garden shed," its joint owner, Michael Plaut, said adamantly yesterday.

Perhaps his insistence was understandable, given that he hopes to sell the property for some pounds 400,000.

In fairness to Mr Plaut, those who used the S-word to describe the property just off Kensington High Street were being less than generous. Nevertheless, the interior of the bachelor-pad-sized property has the interior design values of a garden lean-to.

Even with the reserve price of pounds 325,000, when the property is auctioned in a fortnight's time, the buyer will have to find at least another pounds 100,000 for redecoration. Peeling paint, broken floorboards and large damp patches are the key fixtures of a place that has seen no maintenance since its elderly occupant, an artist, died.

What Mr Plaut really needs is a banker with the soul of an artist. He insists such a person does exist - a City bachelor has already mooted a pounds 410,000 purchase price.

Passing the tiny pink door sandwiched between the redbrick building and white stuccoed house which tower over it, you could be forgiven for dismissing it as, well, a shed. But the corridor behind the door emerges into a studio with a 28ft ceiling and large skylights. At 31ft by 22ft, the room is certainly big enough to convert.

And the estate agents' mantra "location, location, location" covers a multitude of sins. "Imagination, imagination, imagination," is what is really required, insists Mr Plaut's wife, Sarah Sharma, as she whirls around, describing delightful, if rather expensive, renovations: a mezzanine bedroom with a glass front, a tubular shower and a circular graphite staircase.

Upstairs, even more imagination is required.

Mr Plaut, a record producer, and Ms Sharma bought the place two years ago for a sum they politely decline to disclose. "I fell in love with it. I am an artist and I can see the potential," said Ms Sharma. "It is not just the location - it is tucked away and private. It is shocking what you find behind that little door. It is like walking into a little heaven." Perhaps not. But certainly the place is enticing enough to attract potential buyers willing to shell out a third of a million on what is effectively two derelict rooms.

An impending baby has forced the couple to swap the spartan space in a prime location for something more sensible. You can see the regret in Ms Sharma's eyes when she reveals they are now considering a suburban, three-bedroom house. Still, for pounds 300,000-pounds 400,000 the couple will be able to settle with some style.