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Getting it Right

20th June, 2012
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We have all thought of owning the property of our dreams and let’s face it, what’s available at the top end of the property market, is always alluring and captivating. But even a limited budget can secure a beautiful home. Miriam Dalli speaks to Frank Salt director Douglas Salt about what first time buyers are purchasing and visits two different homes on the company’s books which are ideal for couples looking for their unique first home.

Douglas Salt, Company Director and Manager of the recently opened Spinola Frank Salt Branch in St Julian’s is convinced that there is currently a vast selection of properties for first time buyers having an excellent price tag and offering good value like never before. “The mix includes apartments and maisonettes, townhouses, terraced houses and houses of character. Location wise, the sky is the limit, with properties available all around the island,” he states. When looking for their first property most couples opt for an apartment, particularly if it has some form of outdoor space, be it a roof, a terrace or a good-sized balcony. Maisonettes, houses of character and townhouses are also hugely popular, particularly among those who are looking for something more unique. Terraced houses are relatively popular however these are normally higher in price, given their limited availability. The price tag of the property is of extreme importance to all first time buyers. The availability is vast, though this evidently depends on the couple’s budget, which typically ranges from €120,000 to €250,000 for first time buyers. “Price tags depend on the type of property, the location and the size, as well as the extent of finishings. Apartments start from around €80,000 in northern and southern regions, as well as in village cores, averaging at around €130,000. Penthouses and maisonettes are normally between and 20 per cent more expensive. Apartments in the Sliema and St Julian’s areas, as well as some other sought after places, average around €170,000, whereas houses of character, terraced houses and townhouses start from around €190,000,” he explains.

A Touch of Zen

As I stepped into this modern, designer apartment in Msida, owned by Karl Bonello and Daphne Camilleri, I felt a sense of serenity and tranquillity. The main door opens into a spacious open plan layout which serves as the living, dining and kitchen area. This is definitely the heart of the apartment, with two sizeable sofas ideal for a night in watching TV. The earth colours that dominate the living area are broken by a striking tinge of lime that adds vibrancy to the space. The earth tones permeate the interior through furnishings, wallpaper, furniture and curtains, as the couple wanted to stablish a neutral palette that would give them the liberty to change the look of the apartment without the need to make any drastic changes through simple moves such as adding a splash of colour. The furniture throughout the apartment is crafted out of wenge wood, which gives the apartment a sense of warmth.

A strategically placed aquarium, full of bright and exotic-looking fish frames the living area, offering a sense of segregation in the open plan, while adding colour and life effortlessly to this beautiful home. The layout of the kitchen, living and dining area is ideal for anyone who loves to entertain. The kitchen is slightly concealed, although easily accessible to maintain the right flow between all areas. Moreover the guest toilet is purposely placed in one of the corners of the open plan, without being in any way disruptive to the square-like layout of the open plan. “We love entertaining and we wanted to have everything at arm’s length whenever we have friends over,” Karl explains. The owners made use of every nook and cranny of this third-floor apartment. Laid out on an area of 135 square metres, this apartment, with its large windows and two balconies, has ample natural light in all the rooms and is very well ventilated. “We used false ceilings throughout the apartment to have the freedom to cover any wiring needed for the different lighting fittings and we covered the curtain rails behind suspended soffits. We felt that this helped give our home the minimalist look which we were ultimately after,” shares Daphne. This bright and well planned apartment exudes peace and quiet. Its rooms are well planned and each square metre is used in the best possible way. As its young owners say, “this is the best place to wind down after a long day at work.”

No place like home

When, six years ago, Kenneth and Charmaine Azzopardi first laid eyes on this house of character in Hal Ghaxaq, they knew that this was going to be their home for the coming years. Located in a quaint alley just off a small pjazza, this three-bedroomed house of character combines rustic and modern features, and is furnished to a very high standard. The oldest part of the house dates back 350 years, while an extra floor was built later in a style that seamlessly combines old and new. The ground floor is used as the living quarters with its living room, dining room and kitchen all set around a central courtyard, which is ideal for hosting friends, particularly in the spring and summer months. “When we saw this place for the first time, I was already imagining having friends over and enjoying barbecues in the summer. All the internal doors open into the courtyard and I can easily extend the living and the dining area onto the courtyard,” Charmaine says. If Charmaine fell in love with the courtyard, for Kenneth it was the lovely internal staircase with its wrought iron handrail and stone slabs that caught his attention. “The way the internal staircase is positioned, overlooking the internal courtyard and providing ample light to the whole house, won my heart straight away,” Kenneth admits. The house boasts a number of original features including flagstones, kileb, a lovely arched hallway, original arches and a well beneath the property, which the couple find extremely useful. “I love everything about this place,” smiles Charmaine, “the area we are in is very quiet, the way the house is laid out means that I can easily segregate the living quarters from the sleeping quarters, and its original features are unique and rare to find.” As I watch Amy, their four-year-old daughter, running happily in the living area and the courtyard, it is easy to understand what attracted Charmaine and Kenneth to this property in the first place. This house of character manages to tick all the right boxes for a couple looking for a first home; a place where to entertain and host friends, a place where one can relax after a day’s work and the right place to see children enjoy themselves in and call home.

Source: Bliss Magazine; Article written by Miriam Dalli

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