“I wanted to create a home with elegant, modern, open-plan living areas that would sit comfortably within the bones of the original Victorian Gothic building,” he says.
© Photographs by Philip Vile
As one of three penthouses in Manhattan Loft Corporation’s 52-apartment development, the property already had serious bragging rights when Arran bought it in 2010. Located bang next to the Eurostar terminal, it sits above the five-star St Pancras Renaissance hotel with access to Marcus Wareing’s brasserie and bar The Gilbert Scott, and the hotel’s spa and gym. Its views, meanwhile, take in most of the capital’s major sights including St Paul’s Cathedral, the BT Tower and the London Eye.
'The lights, audiovisual system, blinds and ripple-fold curtain are all controlled by iPad and can be adjusted remotely'
Still, Arran felt the apartment’s interior needed “luxe-ing up” so he turned to designer Thomas Griem of London-based TG Studio (tg-studio.com).
“Essentially, I wanted to capture the grandeur of the building at its initial opening in 1873 while giving it a modern-day context,” says Arran. Spending about £300 a square foot on a sumptuous renovation has, he says, “also resulted in significant value creation”.
Says Griem: “It was a big challenge to work on such a famous building. We wanted to change the apartment’s staircase, bathrooms, kitchen and master bedroom but the building’s Grade I-listing meant nothing could be touched without permission from English Heritage.”
Though obtaining planning permission proved fairly straightforward, the refurbishment took two years to complete because the apartment’s position on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors meant it could only be accessed internally. “Everything was carried up manually to the top floors,” sighs Griem.
Working with consultant engineers, Arup, Griem removed a circular staircase between the middle and lower floors and replaced it with a cantilevered design, the supporting structure hidden by a bookcase. “We turned a functional staircase into a design feature,” he says. Made from oak veneer, it has reinforced clear-glass balustrades that usher light through the various levels.
Similarly, reinforced clear-glass panels used for security on the open-plan, cantilevered middle and upper floors visually connect the three levels. The apartment’s entrance is visible from the top floor while the original oak beams and rose window can be seen from all three levels.
The master suite, with its handsome, blue velvet Meridiani bed, occupies the entire top floor. Its open-plan, walk-in wardrobe was custom-built in oak and leather, while specially chosen Portuguese travertine stone cladding gives a cave-like feel to the en suite, with its extra-large walk-in shower.
Privacy is preserved by an electrically operated, wraparound curtain made by Aspraes, which closes off the open-plan bedroom from the triple-height living area. The lights, audiovisual system, blinds and ripple-fold curtain are all controlled by iPad and can be adjusted remotely by Arran as he makes his way home.
The middle floor accommodates a comfortable seating area with a chic Giorgetti sofa, library and “play” zone where Arran’s pool table takes pride of place. Furniture by Poltrona Frau, Knoll and Lema was chosen by Griem to add a contemporary feel.
The open-plan lower level, meanwhile, accommodates a Gemini kitchen with beautiful marble worktops and Gaggenau appliances, a relaxed dining area and TV-watching zone.
Clever use of joinery is a TG Studio hallmark and the TV area’s wooden cabinets were custom-built to house Arran’s audiovisual equipment, while high-quality oak flooring used throughout the penthouse is from Schotten & Hansen. Also on the lower level are two bedrooms with dressing areas, their en suite bathrooms located in two of the building’s Gothic towers. This means they have triple-height ceilings and offer wonderful views of the London skyline. Finished in Arrabascato marble, each bathroom features a low-hanging, 10-light chandelier made by the Italian Lighting Company, as a counterpoint to the unusual ceiling height.
Which part of the project has proved most successful? For Griem, it’s all about creating a sleek, urban space. “The timber trusses originally made it feel a bit barn-like but adding contemporary elements has made it look much more urban,” he says. For Arran, it’s zoning the space into homely living areas. Given its immense volume and 44ft-high ceilings, that’s truly some achievement.
Photographs by Philip Vile