Industrial touches reference a remodelled London apartment’s former life.
This cleverly remodelled London apartment references the building’s heritage while celebrating modern textures and refined materials to create a harmonious feel
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROJECT?
This is a classic retirement story: my clients, who had divided their time between London and the Middle East, decided to start afresh, making their one-bedroom west London apartment their permanent home. The 90sq m space is located in a Thirties former factory and we stripped it back to its industrial shell, rejigging the layout to make it better suited to modern living with a larger, sociable kitchen area. The owners are design savvy and were keen to get every detail right, so it was a collaborative effort, with the aim of creating the perfect little jewel that they could enjoy.
WHAT IS KEY TO PLANNING A SPACE THAT COMBINES SEVERAL AREAS?
Good flow is crucial in order to move around more freely, and it is also important to define the different areas within the space. In this instance, I took advantage of the high ceilings and used dropped panels to denote the sitting, kitchen and dining areas; these also had the added benefit of concealing the pipework and wiring. The ceiling above the panels was left untreated and painted a rich turquoise shade. I felt it was honest to acknowledge, rather than disguise, the industrial nature of the building, juxtaposing rough details such as raw concrete and exposed brick with highly refined materials.
WHAT INSPIRED YOUR DESIGN FOR THE HALLWAY?
The idea of the panelled wall came to me during the demolition phase. In a similar project, I had painted angles in different tones of the same colour and it really worked to stretch the eye, so I suggested using the concept here. This time, we lightened or darkened sections of veneer to make an energetic pattern, routing out thin strips to create lines of brass, which brilliantly disguise the fact that the wall has five doors in it: one to the cloakroom and two sets of double doors to the bathroom and the bedroom. The opposite wall, which divides the hall from the main space, is covered with a wonderful raffia-look paper, and we used another natural wallpaper on the ceiling. The overall effect is warm and inviting, and I love the contrast of walking from a dark space to a lighter one. It makes the living room, with its big Crittall windows, appear even brighter, really lifting the spirits.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE FLOORING CHOICES?
Different areas have different demands – I would never use timber for a kitchen floor, for example, as it will inevitably be ruined within a short of time. The technology for producing porcelain tiles has improved dramatically over the past few years, and I came across this tile when I was looking for an alternative to a Cumbrian limestone that was proving too heavy for a bathroom. Each tile is different and has a nice, earthy feel. When I put the porcelain next to the real limestone, I actually preferred the former. I used two slightly different
tiles from the same range in order to create a rectangular area to mirror the ceiling panel, with a contrasting strip running next to the wall of units. In the sitting area, we used a chevron parquet that we created with oak planks. These were cut to a straight-sided pattern instead of the classic overlapping design for a more modern feel; and the oak has been treated with different layers of stain in order to achieve exactly the right patina. To add the all-important detail between the oak and the porcelain, we used the fairly traditional approach of incorporating a thin sliver of brass, which will age beautifully.
HOW DID YOU CHOOSE THE COLOUR PALETTE?
I think that, particularly in an apartment, it is important to pare back the choice of materials and colours in order to create a sense of calm. The walls, kitchen units and ceiling panels are pale grey, while the deep turquoise ceiling adds a sense of mystery – I love the way that receding colours create depth. As a contrast to the natural hues of the furnishings and veneers, I introduced accents of orange, such as the brightly painted industrial pillar, which serves as punctuation in the scheme.
CAN YOU DISCUSS SOME OF THE KEY PIECES IN THE SPACE?
The chandelier, which is made from brass and smoked glass, was an early discovery and such a must-have that I designed the apartment around it. I have hung it low so that you don’t have to look up to enjoy it; I also like the tension that it creates between the table and the ceiling. The apartment didn’t lend itself to bold pattern, hence the choice of the rug, which is hand-shaved to create the effect of pools of water. The pegs in the entrance hall are another beautifully crafted piece, lending a sculptural element to the space.
HOW DID YOU APPROACH THE TELEVISION AREA?
Almost always, I try to hide the TV but for once I made no attempt to do this, as the room was big enough for it not to feel invasive. I hung a beautiful washed silk that resembles a horizon on the wall and, for the audio-visual equipment, I designed a low, marbletopped unit that features the same stained-oak veneer that is used throughout the apartment. It sits on a slim strip of brass, which again helps to tie it in with the rest of the scheme.
The simple palette of neutral, earthy shades exudes a sense of calm, while pops of orange lift the mood.
Sections of veneer in different shades create a distinctive feature wall in the hallway.
This bubble chandelier provides a focal point in the dining area, which is neatly separated from the living area by different flooring.