Nick and Ben Wilson of Residence One – developer of elegant residences in Belgravia, Chelsea, Knightsbridge, Kensington and Mayfair – on transforming Prime Central London properties into stunning turnkey homes
Words: Mark Kebble
‘To cut a long story short, Ben rang me up and said come back from Switzerland,’ says Nick Wilson, who had a successful career in finance and IT; Ben had worked in the City for 15 years, during which time he dabbled in property, before a revamp of his home in Chiswick inspired him to start a business with his brother.
Looking at the projects to date by their company Residence One, they must complement each other and then some. A luxury residential developer specialising in Prime Central London, their first project in Eccleston Mews broke the price per square foot record for the Belgravia street, and the business has grown so quickly in such a short space of time that we now find ourselves in a building site (hence the dusty table) of a Chester Square townhouse.
‘People think there are not opportunities here, but there are, it’s about having knowledge of an area,’ Ben says. ‘We want to do projects where we can add value and create beautiful homes of the highest calibre. Key addresses like Eaton Square, Chester Square, Wilton Street, Eccleston Mews… These are the areas where we can add the most value.’
The Chester Square project is scheduled to finish later this year, but it’s actually their recently completed work in Wilton Street that has enticed me here to talk about their design approach. ‘We are constantly trying to move forward, but we are certainly proud of the projects we have done before,’ Ben says as we look over the Wilton Street brochure.
‘The finish on all our products, and the type of people that bought them, goes to show how well executed they are. What you see with Wilton Street was decided 12 months before and it turned out as we expected. I don’t think that house could have been any better than it is now.’
The Grade II listed townhouse was developed by Residence One with turnkey interiors by Laura Hammett. As Ben quite rightly says, the images don’t do justice to the grandeur of seeing the property in the flesh. Is there is a particular aspect they love best about it? ‘For me it’s the trio of outside spaces,’ Nick points out. ‘The size of that is stunning.’
It’s answering all those desires and wants: classic and contemporary
‘The rear rebuild of that worked really well,’ Ben adds. ‘We created a glass walk, which allowed light in and helped create that contemporary space. You have got this real traditional feel at the front of the property, and you when you come to the rear and it’s glass and light, it feels much more contemporary. When you look at that space it seems like a different house, but it’s answering all those desires and wants: classic and contemporary.’
‘We were actually looking at Wilton Street [as their first project as Residence One], but then Eccleston Mews came along,’ Nick recalls. ‘We went with the latter and then Ben rang me to say that Wilton Street was back on the market… Doing those two in conjunction was tough.’
‘We were broke,’ Ben grimaces. ‘We were living on £20 a day, but at the end of it all, it was worth it.’
It certainly was, judging by the fact that we are sitting in a £30m property on Chester Square, the plans for which – think cinema, gymnasium, staff accommodation, spa – sound quite breathtaking.