Most property developers start out with a humble investment and move on to create homes that superstars want to live in. But Margaret and Michael Stanford began with icons, largely thanks to their job as visual designers – of album covers, videos and stage sets – for some of Britain’s most revered artists, including Queen, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Sex Pistols and Kate Bush.
One day, Freddie Mercury asked for the couple’s help decorating his home and the pair discovered a talent for property development.
“These artists they are often surrounded by people who aren’t always necessarily trustworthy,” says Margaret. “When they found someone who was trustworthy they tended to hang on to them, and I think that’s what happened with us. Consequently, you get phone calls – never at a time you wanted them – asking what you thought about what they should wear on tour and that, not surprisingly, morphed into ‘I’m doing up my house, do you have any ideas about what I could do?’”
This sparked a new obsession for home renovation that saw the pair transform various apartments – largely along the River Thames – some of which they lived in. Two years ago, they moved into this three bedroom penthouse in Chelsea with three terraces. Just off the enormous reception area – which also boasts exceptional ceiling heights – are two of them, one to the east and one to the west, so you can watch the sky move from one to the other throughout the day.
But now it’s time to move on yet again “to another property that is potentially amazing, hopefully we’ll put our magic marker on it”. But how does this semi-itinerant life measure up to the heady days of glam rock and glitter? Surprisingly well, according to Margaret.
“Our whole career has always been about presentation whether it’s about property or the music business. Funnily enough, it’s just as exciting standing in the middle of a building site in the dirt and grit and imaging what you can do. It’s hugely satisfying.” Chelsea Crescent Penthouse is on sale for £4.95m.