Meet the woman who’s given multi-million pound budgets to design the world’s richest people’s homes


One of the most fascinating things about the world’s richest people is how they live.

From plush mansions, to incredible boats, to the places they eat and what luxurious modes of transport that take them to those restaurants — it’s all about elite living, which is alien to most of the population.

However, for Mathilde Allibe, the CEO and founder of the elite architecture and interior design company Secretcape, this is a world that she is most saturated in.

In fact, her job is to make the richest people in the world’s homes utterly beautiful and cutting edge in terms of maximising space and engineering to make it happen.

“I usually renovate unmodernised homes for those who get a property but don’t have the time to oversee design and architectural changes,” Allibe told Business Insider.

“There’s a mixture of those who have no clue about design but kind of know what they want but can’t put it into words or do it themselves. They are all from different backgrounds but my clients come to me through word of mouth. I like to work with people of taste, education, and intelligence. It’s incomparable to money. I don’t like talking about money so I actually delegate the talk about money to a team I have.”

Allibe’s Secretcape designs the interiors for £10 million to £300 million homes across the world. Currently she has seven projects on the go — six in London and one in Spain. She has several teams that work for her all the way through design, architecture, project management, finances and aftercare. The latter being a team helping clients move in once they project is completed. Her clients give her budgets of “millions, not one million” to design the inside of a house. Some give a limitless budget.

But to get a taste for what Allibe and her team do, she invited Business Insider into 8 Chesham Place — a seven storey property in Belgravia, London, which was sold to someone for £19 million. He is moving in on Sunday.

After putting on provided for slippers and sitting in one of the several lounging areas at the Chesham Place property, Allibe revealed to Business Insider all about the world she moves in and what level of time and detail goes into making the homes of millionaires and billionaires so incredible.

“It isn’t just about putting on some paint and getting in furniture, what our clients want is extremely high end detail that never crosses the minds of you and I. For example, clients are very particular to the detail of how a window opens and shuts,” said Allibe.

“Some people want their entire home linked to their iPhone — from light switches to full video recordings of what’s happening inside — to having safe rooms installed.”

Her clients include the family that own the Joseph clothing line, “high-end world famous businessmen,” a famous French pharmacologist, and even royalty.

“I work for a Middle Eastern queen and a princess — and when I say queen and princess, I mean a proper queen and princess, not low level ones,” said Allibe.

Above all, she says that her clients are primarily foreigners in London that buy these big beautiful houses or buy houses that were converted into flats, only to convert them back to make one luxurious property.

The basement cinema room at Chesham Place Business Insider/Lianna Brinded

But Allibe said that while most of her clients who own these properties are usually only in London sometimes two days at a time and then not back for three months — they all want an immaculate home that is fitted with the most luxurious and well crafted item and cutting edge technology and engineering.

Naturally, as you can imagine, there are many “unique” requests, as Allibe puts it.

“One gentlemen wanted to have a jacuzzi in the bedroom with mirrors,” said Allibe. She has also designed a property that, at the request of the client, is in “porno chic” — erotic interiors and black walls.

It is part and parcel though that these properties have all the amenities that a regular person would kill for while on holiday, let alone in the home.

Chesham Place, for example, is incredible. It has a massive cinema room in the basement with room for a big poker table, its own gym and sauna as well as a ballet bar, and even a massage room. There are also so many bathrooms that I had to be escorted to one on the second to bottom floor because I got lost.

But the most unusual request? — “the deadline.”

“Some people want the property to be completed within a year — that’s not going to happen. For example, like this property or the Bond Street property (another project Allibe and her team are working on), the building is divided up in 5 or 6 flats. So, you got to factor in how long it takes tenants to leave a property then to have a proper architectural look and design and then request planning permission.

“Buildings like these take two or three years to complete.”

Part of the private gym at 8 Chesham Place in London. Business Insider/Lianna Brinded

But you can see why.

Everything from the exquisite furniture, to the tableware provided — which were handpicked by Allibe from North Africa — to the finest walls and carpets to the little things like having a tap in the kitchen that removes the need to have a kettle. The level of detail is insane.

“Ignore the dust. Hopefully it will be a lot more immaculate by the time the client moves in,” said Allibe when I took a look around the gym.

I could not see any dust. In fact, I did think maybe Allibe was just imagining it because her standards are so high — but then again that’s why she’s hired to do what she does. Her eye for detail that a mere mortal like me couldn’t see is why she gets hired again and again by the same clients.

“I don’t just work with a client once and then say bye bye — I work with them on their third or fourth property. After one they usually are like ‘I love it! Now find me bigger, better.’ I love it, it’s such a fantastic experience working with the clients and they appreciate the relationship we have and the precision,” said Allibe.

Allibe said that “if a client decided to sell the properties after we have designed it, within six months, it will be sold very easily and with a profit of 30%.”

However, she insists her clients are not doing it for that. She says that they put in so much time and money into their properties because they want to make their house a home, which is why she got into this business in the first place.

“I love my job and am passionate about it. I like to involve my whole self. However, people see architecture and interior design and think its glamorous. It’s not always. If I didn’t have my team around me, I wouldn’t be anybody, I wouldn’t be Mathilde.”

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