Millionaires' Mansions, Channel 4:inside the quirky world of interior design for the super-rich, from stingray-skin tables to giant chandeliers

With not a gold tap in sight, this super-luxe interior of a Knightsbridge townhouse features bespoke items that include a chandelier made from leaves and furniture from guinea fowl feathers.

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Brian Wade, interior designer to the super-rich, has just completed a four-year project on a Knightsbridge townhouse with a wealth of unusual touches.

The Russian family which owns the seven-storey dwelling (and whose privacy Wade is fiercely protective of) have spent £1.9 million on furniture alone for the house which was bought five years ago for an undisclosed sum, completely gutted and renovated to include two capacious basements.

The house was featured on Channel 4’s Millionaires' Mansions: Designing Britain’s Most Exclusive Homes, a series which delves into the detail of styling “modern palaces” such as the one Wade worked on.

“Designing for this kind of market isn’t all about Swarovski crystals and gold taps,” says Wade, of TFA Limited.

Among the items used to furnish the house is a coffee table made from the skins of 25 stingrays – a specialist hide known as shagreen – which matches stingray skin wallpaper in the hallway.


The stingray hide used on the bespoke coffee table has been dyed olive green to match the wallpaper in the hallway (Channel 4) 


Another startling feature is a bespoke chandelier by Eva Menz, which cost £185,000 and is made from leaves (collected by the family during a walk in Hyde Park) dipped in three kinds of gold and strung up among glass conches. “I call it a light sculpture or wind chime rather than a chandelier because when there’s a draught it makes a beautiful sound,” says Wade.


Eva Menz, who produced the light sculptures for One Hyde Park, worked with Wade on the chandelier made from fallen leaves in Hyde Park


“Clients we work with want us to help them define who and what they are,” says Wade. “Interacting with the client is quite an intense one on one process. You really need to eat feel and breathe what they require. We probably tried 40 or 50 dining chairs alone – some of them were flown in from Canada.”

The 7,500 sq ft house has nine bathrooms, a sauna in the basement, a separate floor for staff to live in and a couture dressing room with a cupboard big enough to contain more than 600 pairs of shoes.

Wade, who is passionate about using natural materials, also included a side table made from guinea fowl feathers, a rabbit skin throw (dyed bright pink) in a little girls’ bedroom.

He also used a “very unusual veneer” for the dining room table - a 400-year-old olive tree from the grounds Versailles palace.


Other designers featured on the Channel 4 series include Joanna Wood, who only allowed the filmmakers to shoot the floor in parts of the Mayfair penthouse she is renovating; and Juliette Thomas, whose King’s Room showroom features “blingy” wallpaper inlaid with Swarovski crystals.

Channel 4’s Millionaires' Mansions: Designing Britain’s Most Exclusive Homes continues on Channel 4 on Thursdays at 8pm.

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