Today, it's all about cupboard love

Tenants today have vast amounts of kit, so landlords need to provide space to store it all in, says Chris Partridge
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The Independent Online

True? Well, no, according to letting agents. Tenants now have so many possessions that they need cavernous cupboards to store them all in. According to research by Savills, half of tenants say storage space is the one thing they would be prepared to pay more rent for.

Jane Ingram, head of lettings at Savills, says: "Storage is without a doubt one of the factors that makes tenants choose one flat over another." People have much more equipment these days, she says. The new enthusiasm for cycling in London has created demand for big cupboards near the front door so the hall is not cluttered with bikes. In family homes, buggies have to go somewhere. Most sports seem to demand huge quantities of hi-tech kit.

Washing all those clothes also creates clutter, and people now want to hide it away from the super-smart kitchen. "A separate utility room is very important," Ingram says.

"Big cupboards to store suitcases in are really key," Ingram says. "Some apartment blocks have separate storage rooms in the basement or car park, and we advise landlords to let tenants have them and not to store their own stuff in there."

Christopher Rencki, a buy-to-let landlord with four houses on the Peterborough Estate in Fulham, west London, is an evangelist for storage. "Storage is like great sex; you can never have enough," he says. "My houses have 97 cupboards each at the last count."

This is partly a cultural need. His tenants are rich, gadget-obsessed Americans with lots and lots of stuff, so he spends much time and effort installing cupboards and shelves in every spare corner. "I have four full-time carpenters working for me," he says. "All bedrooms have at least four fully fitted cupboards, and six in bigger bedrooms. I insist on oval hanging bars, not round, because round bars always sag. One cupboard is just for shoes, which pulls out as a big drawer holding 33 or 34 pairs."

Despite the shoe drawers and the eight special compartments for sweaters, Rencki does not favour those impressive arrays of drawers specially shaped to store socks, undies, spats, opera hats, gold-handled canes and so on.

"I had one of those moving tie-racks at home, but I never really used it," he says.

The big innovation that everyone will appreciate is the huge glory-hole off the entrance hall. "On the ground floor, I have installed a pram room 1.2 metres wide and three metres deep, which is arguably the most useful space in the whole house," Rencki says. "It has open shelving and hooks you can hang bicycles on, keeping all the clutter hidden behind closed doors."

The kitchen is a symphony of cupboards, as most kitchens are these days, but with an unusual extra - a large bookshelf for all the cookery books that demonstrate to visitors what good cooks the hosts are.

Off the kitchen, close to the back door, there is a huge utility room with two washing machines and two tumble driers. "That way, you can wash whites and coloureds simultaneously," Rencki explains. The utility room is also, naturally, filled with cupboards.

The basement has been converted into a large media room with two floor-to-ceiling cupboards and ranks of shelving for books. It also has a large storeroom with two somewhat surprising storage spaces. One is a fire-proof safe for valuables and documents, and the other is a gun cabinet. Presumably this would usually contain a pair of Purdeys and a hunting rifle rather than a sawn-off and a couple of AK-47s, though why any guns should be required in Fulham is not clear.

Some may say that Rencki has provided more storage than any person who is not Imelda Marcos could ever need. But there are two interesting omissions, in the form of two storage spaces that are apparently highly sought after.

"There is no walk-in pantry - that would be suitable for country houses only," Rencki says. "And there is no garden shed - my tenants are bankers and don't do gardening."

Despite the almost overwhelming amount of cupboard space already in place, Rencki is considering adding yet more. "I want to install a special dedicated storage room for golf clubs," he says.