Period splendour at Princes Gate SW7
Top flight executives expect the best when they're choosing a home - traditional architecture, period charm, a contemporary interior and an exclusive central London address are high on most wish lists. But many period homes simply aren't designed for the way people choose to live today. Period conversions in particular may look grand from the outside, but they can have surprisingly small rooms and awkward layouts. So when a client recently asked us to transform an apartment in prestigious Princes Gate near Hyde Park in central London, a radical redesign was on the cards.
The second floor apartment, in a Grade II listed, white stucco fronted Victorian building, scored highly when it came to location. But inside, the rooms were small due to a stud wall being addeed to create a bedroom which then reduced the reception space and didn't reflect the grandeur of the building's impressive facade. "The solution was far reaching and involved completely redesigning the interior, demolishing all of the internal walls and reconfiguring the space to create a bright, modern and elegant living space," comments Amar Tufail, head of refurbishment at InStyle Direct.
"Working closely with the architect, structural engineer, listed building planning department and the Kensington & Chelsea planning department to ensure we could achieve what the client wanted yet following planning's strict criteria, we started by taking down all of the internal walls, giving a blank canvas. We restored the original reception room retaining the three, huge floor to ceiling windows which flood the room with light. We then opened the supporting wall to create a sleek, new, ultra-modern kitchen with its own dining area."
"Continuing the new layout, we created two new bedrooms, both with ensuites, replacing the existing three small bedrooms," adds Amar. "This might seem an unusual decision and we usually advise against reducing the number of bedrooms as it affects the value of a property. However, in this case, our client, a letting agent with a middle eastern client, wanted the reception room to have a real 'wow' factor, and redesigning the interior was the only way to create the light, bright space he envisaged."
"With the new layout complete, we turned our attention to the detailing. It's always preferable to retain original period features. We refurbish where we can - for example, we restored original French doors to the reception room and we overhauled the original storm shutters by hand so they were fully working again (they probably had been sealed shut for about 50 years!). But sometimes that isn't possible and in this case, we had to fit new cornicing and plasterwork, handmade by a specialist craftsman, which accurately replicates the original."
The result is a fantastic mix of traditional and contemporary - a huge, double height living space, beautiful period features and of course, uber-luxurious kitchen and bathrooms - exactly the 7* residence that senior executives snap up.
"Not all our clients know we carry out renovation and refurbishment works on this scale but this illustrates what can be achieved," adds Amar. "Sometimes you need to think outside the box, literally, to create a living space as stunning and functional as this".
Once the property was ready, a furnishing package from InStyle Direct's Exclusive range was promptly installed. "The furnishings brought the property to life and the letting agent's client is delighted with the apartment which now does justice to its prestigious setting and location. When the client saw it, he had to seriously consider whether to still let it or move in himself!"