THE BEST OF BELGRAVIA: The flagship £29.5m townhouse from brother act property developer Wilben

Lux Worldwide

April, 2016

The flagship £29.5 million townhouse from brother act property developer Wilben.

If you met William and Benjamin Samuels, you could be forgiven for performing a double take; the twins behind boutique property developer Wilben are similar enough in appearance to warrant a little confusion. Even so, in the six years since the founding of their semi-eponymous company, they’ve done some spectacular work.

Thankfully there’s some separation between the brothers, with Ben working more on acquiring properties and securing investments and Will on realising their interior design portfolio. It’s a partnership that’s evidently working as, despite being a purposefully small developer, they’ve taken London’s more exclusive neighbourhoods by storm.

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Yet it’s in Belgravia that they’ve really outdone themselves, more precisely the idyllic Chester Square. Wilben’s biggest project to date the 19th century, seven-storey townhouse is the most impressive on the Grosvenor family-developed garden square, towering an extra level above its neighbours.

From the outside the Grade II listed address townhouse is everything you could look for in a Belgravia property, its white façade the very image of 1800s architectural splendour. Taking their cues from that understated elegance, Wilben’s redesign of the massive 8,055 sq ft property is quintessentially British, albeit updated in beautifully contemporary style.

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Before Wilben took it on, the house was essentially being used as a halfway house between office and storage container. Needless to say it wasn’t in the best condition; rundown might be a better way of putting it. The owner was fed up with wasting the space and so gave Wilben the brief of transforming it into an enviable home for sale.

The first step however wasn’t to simply update the décor. To increase the already abundant space, Wilben connected the main property to the mews house behind. By digging down two more floors to match the front part, they created a full thousand more feet of space. The area in the middle was then turned into an atrium complete with skylight, flooding the space with natural light.

It’s an inspired use of the space, adding a distinctly modern dimension to the development. Not only does the spacious, light-filled atrium set is apart from its neighbours in terms of design as well as size, but it’s the perfect setting for the property’s yoga studio, something which we’re going to assume they didn’t think about back in the 19th century. Still, every home should have one.

That’s certainly not the only modern addition to the property. The brief was to make the townhouse appeal to the open market, and nothing grabs the attention quite like a private cinema. The comfortable space is filled with lounge sofas, all facing towards the projector screen for the ultimate, intimate home movie experience.

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Despite cutting-edge modernity in some aspects, the property’s décor as a whole is the epitome of British sophistication. Sumptuous silk wallpaper dotted with framed works of art, copious amounts of dark wood, textured materials and gold details all come together in an indisputable celebration of traditional glamour.

New features such as the imported Italian chandelier that dominates the living room have been curated to complement the restored original features such as cornices, fireplaces and staircase. There’s little doubt it was the best direction to go for a property of this level, both in terms of exclusivity and heritage. It works to bring the interiors firmly into the 21st century while paying homage to historical design and style.

There are some exceptions of course; the atrium for example is dominated by a magnificent green planted wall, emphasising the natural light from the glass roof and making the most of the height of the space. Yet thanks to the continuation of the art and a certain consistency in the finer wood and gold details, it all comes together seamlessly.

As a place to live, the house has pretty much everything you could ask for. Across the eight floors there are eight bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a living room, dining room, family media room, patio garden, chef’s kitchen, treatment room, yoga room and the aforementioned home cinema. Because that amount of space requires much upkeep, the mews house has been transformed into a self-contained staff flat, complete with a separate entrance.

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The formal rooms have been kept to the front of the house, perfect for receiving dinner guests, while the family rooms are at the back, keeping the private private. It’s an arrangement that matches not just the use to which it will likely be put, but also the property’s heritage.

Wilben may be relatively young in developer terms, especially when it comes to working with properties of this level, and they’re far from large. Yet the result is an astounding £29.5million townhouse in one of London’s most enviable locations. Will and Ben may be all but indistinguishable, but there’s nothing quite like their Chester Square townhouse.

Chester Square is now on the market through Savills and Strutt & Parker.

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