The view from the top
Words by Leo Russell
How sculptor Bruce Denny designed the perfect Belgravia penthouse
A secret within
From the outside, the grand white stucco terraces of Eaton Place look uniform. However, inside there is a remarkable range of properties, decorated in a variety of styles. But few are quite as impressive at the penthouse property refurbished by celebrated sculptor Bruce Denny.
This apartment occupies the upper two floors of a townhouse. When work began in 2019, the aim was to create a more open space and make the property suitable for a growing family.
Downstairs, the galley kitchen and separate dining and sitting rooms were replaced by an open-plan design. As well as creating a brighter living area, this also ensured the downstairs rooms communicated with each other.
Practical yet beautiful
As Bruce explains, the eating area was designed to be ‘a kitchen in the dining room, rather than a kitchen with a table in it. Kitchen appliances were kept hidden behind cupboards, while a beautiful quartzite countertop was chosen for the central island'. He also wanted the space to be practical: the sumptuous dining chairs and luxurious wallpaper with a horsehair pattern are both made from vinyl, meaning they can be easily wiped down.
Although Bruce loves the clean lines of contemporary design, the results are often stark. He wanted the flat to combine a minimal aesthetic with a more comfortable atmosphere, choosing pale wooden floors and darker walls to add richness to the room.
He also wanted to create a sympathetic space to display his collection of art. This includes a bronze horse head by Nic Fiddian-Green, a smaller version of the celebrated Horse at Water displayed on Park Lane. There’s also a dramatic Christopher Guy chandelier above the table, made from coils and tendrils of dark glass. Bruce’s own artwork is exhibited as well, including several figures cast in bronze.
Love of human form
Bruce began sculpting when developing a property on the South Bank. Pieces were needed to decorate the interior, so he signed up for an adult education course in sculpture. He soon found that his love of human form and function could be expressed in figurative pieces, the medium blending both his technical and creative instincts. More recently he has been working in crystal clear resin, bringing a contemporary feel to these timeless shapes.
The penthouse floor of the flat was also transformed. Its two bedrooms have been expanded to three, all of them ensuite. Meanwhile, the principal suite was made open plan to create the same sense of light and space found downstairs.
The result is spectacular. The bedroom, bathroom and dressing areas all communicate, with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that lead out onto the terrace. In summer the doors can be left ajar, adding to the sense of space. But, even in winter they fill the room with light, thanks the terrace’s height and the open skies with views towards Hyde Park.
A sense of harmony
This suite has been designed with exceptional care. For instance, the tinted mirrors give a sense of space without the occupant feeling exposed. Also, the screen separating the bath from the bed is made of the same twisted metal as the staircase banister. And each upstairs room has floating beds and the same kind of carpet to create consistency. ‘Hopefully someone coming in here will feel a sense of harmony,’ Bruce explains, ‘even if they don’t know why.’
This attention to detail can be seen throughout the property. For instance, the building’s common areas, and the utility room on the lower half-landing, have been decorated in the same palette as the flat. What’s more, the entrance to the property – via direct lift or front door – works using Bluetooth, with a remote function meaning visitors can be let in if the owners are away. Finally, rather than confusing dimmer switches, each room has a series of simple light settings to suit the mood and time of day.
‘I was always drawn to this neighbourhood,’ Bruce concludes, when asked about his love for SW1. ‘Eaton Place is right in the centre of the city, but it has none of the business of surrounding streets. It’s like a little village.’ This is especially true of the apartment he has created, an enclave of beauty and calm in the heart of Belgravia.
View Eaton Place here.