Harrison Varma was established in 1996 by husband and wife team Anil and Marisa Varma. They focus on building ‘real homes for real people’, creating amazing residences incorporating stylish design and bespoke features handcrafted by genuine craftspeople. The company undertakes projects around the Hampstead, Kenwood area.
What is different and unique about Harrison Varma’s approach to developing property?
Marisa Varma, Creative Director at Harrison Varma:
“We started the company out of frustration after struggling to find a family home which could encompass the way wanted to live. From that when developing, we always think about how the buyer is going to live and their lifestyle. Practicality and attention to detail is our primary focus; we tend not to follow trends, instead finding solutions that work for the long-term.
We are also vertically integrated which allows us to quality control our work at every stage. We have developed a company ethos where each employee is a ‘perfectionist’. Our team of sub-contractors, who have been working with us for many years, understand the quality we expect and strive to achieve it; the results are clear in the quality our finish.
We also pride ourselves on our unique aftercare service. We have always maintained our clients’ properties for as long as they want and are pleased to provide a personal service.”
Which development are you most proud of to date?
Marisa Varma: “The Mansion in Highgate was completed in 2008 and sold for £25m. This property was 10 years in the making and a real turning point for the company. We fought hard to gain planning permission and acceptance from local residents. Even after all this time, the image from the rear gardens still takes my breath away. I also like that the family who live there love their home and have (so far) left it exactly as we built it – we must have done something right!”
Anil Varma, Managing Director at Harrison Varma: “Buxmead – the facilities and quality of the finish are like nothing else in London.”
Three things to avoid when developing a new site?
Marisa Varma: “Always maintain good practice – spend time and effort in developing ideas and due diligence is key.”
Anil Varma: “Cheapest anything is bad news – buy cheap materials, expect a cheap end product.”
“Avoid working with an inexperienced team – whether they are architects, designers, tradesmen etc.”
“Do not get distracted from the core principles – in our opinion, Light, Space and Volume and the ‘flow’.”
Technology is here to stay in our homes and our daily lives – which three gadgets or gizmos could you never be without?
“I am lucky enough to have a ‘zip tap’ in my kitchen and will be introducing these to all of our properties – it provides hot water at the push of a button.
I use the Lutron system to open and close my curtains; it is great to have automated window treatments when you have large expanses of windows like I do!
I also love the Sonos system which allows me to play my music through Spotify through the concealed speakers in the ceiling. This means seamless high-quality audio in every room of the house.”
Your three favourite architects or interior designers
- “Tadeo Ando a self-taught visionary whom I admire for his fascinating outlook and discipline.
- Patricia Urquiola – a whimsical and feminine touch combined with functionality. A true designer who can translate her aesthetic across a variety of products.
- Antonio Citterio – a multi-disciplinary who understands the importance of form and functionality, whether the project is a hotel, bathroom tap or Technogym machinery.”
Your most preferred hotel lounge bars around the world?
“The Coburg Bar at The Connaught Hotel, London is an old favourite and I have been visiting for many years.
Honesty Bar at Pavilion de la Reine, Paris – I visit Paris every year for Maison d’Objet and I love the cosy homely feel of this hotel after a long day at the show.
‘Freddy’s Bar’ at Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa, Cancun – Great ceviche and cocktails served by Freddy and over-looking the beach!”
Who do you most admire in business?
Marisa Varma : “I have a lot of respect for B&B Italia who are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year – a strong creative brand who have stayed true to what they do and continue to innovate year on year.”
Anil Varma: “Anybody who worked their way from the bottom to the top and stayed there!”
Where would you choose to enjoy your ‘last supper’ in London?
“Café du Marche for steak and frites with friendly staff who have looked after us for years.”
Who serves the best breakfast in London and what makes it special?
“The Wolsley for the old-style of service – a firm favourite.”
Your most favourite retailer in Prime Central London?
Marisa Varma: “My favourite department store is Liberty – such a wonderful building and such a treasure trove of beautiful things and many great new and established British designers. I could spend all day there!”
From where would you get your favourite view of the city of London?
Marisa Varma: “I recently went to a dinner at The Switch House and the views from the 10th floor are breath-taking. Otherwise one of the river boats or the roof top bar at the ME Hotel.”