If ever there was a long-awaited London development, then Chelsea Barracks is it. Empty for a decade, and five years under construction, residents will finally start to move in this month.
This week, the first show apartment was revealed – and even if we don’t have the £24m required to snap up this four-bedroom 4,000 sq ft residence, it’s a pretty good second-best to have a nosey around. So follow me inside.
Both the show apartment, and the residents’ Garrison Club have luxury interiors by Elicyon. Founded just five years ago by the architect and interior designer Charu Gandhi (ex-Candy and Candy), the Kensington-based firm couldn’t wish for a more prestigious showcase.
Gandhi says she is passionate about “materiality, texture and craft” – elements that are in abundance in every room, yet handled with restraint. This precision echoes the past, when the British Army was on parade here, buffed and polished and perfect in every detail.
Burnt orange as an accent colour (hint: cushions update), and its associated palette of russet, ochre, tan, brushed brass and champagne, flow through the design, complemented by either deep inky blues or velvety greens, and a base colour of dove grey. Symmetry creates order and calm, and in the master bedroom, where the bed, headboard and bedside cabinets obey symmetry and geometry, the yin to this yang is in the suite’s softly structural curves of the sofa and chairs.
There’s a lot to take in in every room. The scale is grand – wide doors and corridors and 2.8m ceilings. Texture is subtly layered everywhere you look, creating interest yet never overwhelming, even down to the “leather-feel” texture of the marble installed underneath the breakfast bar. Not one inch has been overlooked, yet they have succeeded in making both the apartment and the club feel like a home – if your home has someone to continually karate chop the cushions.
“Lots of the art you see is craft-or-fashion treated as art,” Gandhi says, pointing to a vintage Hermès scarf framed for a bedroom wall. In the spa, Francesca Sharkey, Chelsea Barracks’ development manager, points out the precision-laid brass inlays within the marble floor. “It’s easier to do this with joinery than in stone,” she says, explaining that the craftsmen had plus or minus half a millimetre margin for error. What Sharkey doesn’t know about marble isn’t worth knowing.
Nothing is fussy, yet it’s not predictable either – opening the doors to a meeting room reveals, surprisingly, a symphony in leather – a bespoke Elicyon-designed handstitched leather-topped boardroom table with a set of iconic Cab chairs by Mario Bellini for Cassina in cognac-coloured leather. The de Gournay wallpaper was handpainted and meticulously hung, and when you’ve become accustomed to the pops of burnt orange, suddenly in the billiards room, the accent is crushed raspberry.
At £24m, this show apartment isn’t even the Top Trump of Qatari Diar’s development. Next up are the individual townhouses – at £37m each. Time to form an orderly queue.