Issue 03 | Interiors

Higher Aims

London, UK

An impeccably restored lateral apartment that has much more than just a good bone structure

The mid-19th-century listed building retains its original facade, but has been entirely rebuilt within

When boutique property developer Edo Mapelli Mozzi acquired 13-19 Leinster Square in London’s Notting Hill, his team had the significant job of bringing the Grade II-listed buildings back to life after a long period of neglect. Very few of the original features in the stucco-fronted townhouses, built in 1850, had been spared when they were gutted in the 1970s for use as a hotel.

Mapelli Mozzi and his team at Banda Property have now restored as much of the detail as possible while creating five maisonettes, eight apartments and two penthouses – all of which are due to complete at the end of 2019. The first three-bedroom unit to be finished by Banda’s in-house design team faces the garden square on the first floor, and is decked out with a wide-ranging collection of classic design pieces, contemporary artwork and a palette of elegant natural materials. The apartment’s exceptional finish helps shift the rest of the properties, explains Mapelli Mozzi, because the company’s approach is not to sell off-plan before construction begins, but to appeal to buyers who actually want to live there and so will look to buy after the work is complete.

“That’s been our approach from day one,” says the entrepreneur, who distinguishes Banda from other luxury developers by the quality of the base build and the pared-back approach to the design of the interiors. “We always design and build for owner-occupiers, not investors,” he says. “For this project, we wanted to use the best materials possible and then use those materials to create a very plain, high-quality palette that maximises light.”

Bench by Brazilian designer Joaquim Tenreiro
Farrow & Ball’s Ammonite paint is the backdrop to the hallway console
The ceilings are 3.4m high in the entrance hallway. Antique urns sit on the whitewashed Versailles parquet floor

It’s true that it takes a certain kind of confidence to dress a show flat sparingly because it doesn’t leave room for shoddy workmanship, and it lets the fine detail of the interior architecture shine through. In this case the statement Marquina marble fireplaces and mix of Versailles parquet, herringbone and chevron oak flooring are striking features in their own right.

A lot of the new builds in London post 2007 followed a very similar aesthetic that was busy and layered, says Mapelli Mozzi. “If you’ve got a white box, you’ve got to add layer upon layer to disguise that your base build is not good enough. So we wanted to tone that down and make sure that everyone looked at things like the mouldings, the ironmongery or the point where timber hits marble – all of those little details that really matter.”

One advantage was that the previous owners of 13-19 Leinster Square had knocked through all of the internal walls, meaning each new flat has a rare expanse of lateral space spanning the buildings. Essentially, the front external facade is the only original wall, and everything behind it is new, although Banda also had to adhere to listed building regulations, so any timber that came out during construction went back in, and breathable lime plaster was used. The team also salvaged fragments of the original cornicing: “In one room we found a tiny bit of moulding, and we found an eighth of a ceiling rose, so we had a replica created and reinstated. We tried to get everything as close to the original as possible,” says Mapelli Mozzi.

We wanted to make sure that everyone looked at things like the mouldings, the ironmongery or the point where timber hits marble – all of those little details that really matter
In the living room, the focal point is Finnish designer Tuomas Markunpoika’s steel and tadelakt coffee table
Pierre Jeanneret chairs appeal to buyers interested in rare furniture
The Obumex kitchen, leading through to the dining room.

Certainly the 3.4m-high ceilings and arched windows along the building’s frontage provide an indication of its original grandeur. But this is a space adapted for 2019, with an Obumex handmade kitchen with Gaggenau appliances, long stretches of bespoke storage and a generously sized garden terrace. The work of emerging and well-known artists such as Slim Aarons, Nick Knight, Anish Kapoor, Tony Bevan and Emily Young is set off by a simple palette of stone, wood, linen and marble. Antique furniture, sourced from the market at nearby Portobello Road, sits alongside design classics such as Pierre Jeanerret dining chairs and a rosewood and cane bench by Joaquim Tenreiro, plus select pieces from Banda’s own furniture line to be launched later this year.

“The hierarchy of space is very important to us,” says Mapelli Mozzi of the layout. “We wanted to have all of the principal living spaces at the front facing the square and the secondary spaces at the back without as much light.” It’s difficult to imagine that any of the positions in this home could fall down the pecking order, but that’s a testament to Banda’s careful execution. “We know their mindset,” Mapelli Mozzi says of his discerning clientele. “We spend our money on the quality of the product instead of marketing tricks and branding. We want our buildings to have character and soul.”

We wanted to use the best materials possible, and then use those materials to create a very plain, high-quality palette that maximises light
The master bedroom, overlooking leafy Leinster Square, features a 1950s Mole chair by Sergio Rodrigues. The artwork is by Kristin Giorgi, from NG Collective