London Redesigned for Moscow
The mansions that line Cornwall Terrace in London look like traditional British homes on the outside, but their interiors are getting a Slavic feel thanks to elite Russian clients who are looking to own a piece of English history.
The demand from rich Russians is so great that London's real estate developers are reconstructing some former residences of England's historical figures, including poets and admirals, to suit the specific tastes of clients.
Three homes on Cornwall Terrace, which is located within a former royal hunting estate, have been redesigned with Russians in mind. The clients want homes with high ceilings, archaic characteristics, one-of-a-kind furniture, pianos in the lobby and windows that overlook parks, according to the developers that work with the elite market. Home cinemas, saunas, swimming pools, gyms and ample parking are also considered basic requirements. The redesign can take eight to 10 months, after which the new owners are fully set to move in.
"The only thing they need to bring is their comb and their toothbrush," said Beth Dean, sales and marketing director of developer Oakmayne Bespoke.
The properties offer round-the-clock support for occupants. Harrods Estates apartments provide 24-hour concierge service and a property management team that prepares everything before the Russian owner arrives at his London home. Staff is also never far away, with residences for drivers, personal assistants and nannies located in the former mews at the back of the main house.
Inside, Russians want luxurious furniture and fabrics, said a designer with Helen Green Design, which has worked on one of the houses on Cornwall Terrace. She draped the home in silks, velvet and furs to meet customer needs.
The developers are taking a personalized approach to market their properties to Russians. The market for elite houses is small, but the properties are getting attention. Russians, Arabs and South Asians are the biggest players on the elite market right now, said Shirley Humphrey, sales and marketing director of Harrods Estates. But the market options may be drying up soon because London has few properties that are capable of undergoing the extensive reconstruction work that developers need to do to satisfy Russian clients.