A trick of the light
Let’s hope the Chancellor doesn’t take a leaf out of King William III’s 1696 rulebook and introduce a window tax. In the luxury market jewel-like glass extensions and super-prime skyplexes that are fast becoming the norm, and lower down the price ladder, homeowners are investing in bifold doors at the back of the kitchen or skylights to create a sense of space – particularly popular in narrow Victorian terraces.
According to today’s leading interior designers our love affair with all things glass is set to continue.
“Glass as a material has been used for many years. It’s certainly not a fad or passing trend,” says Alex Isaac, head of design at Morpheus London, whose clients are based from Monaco to Belgravia. “With new technologies and techniques its use has developed and shifted from functional to artistic. The only thing restraining a designer’s use of glass is their own imagination.”
However, huge windows mean there are fewer solid walls to place free-standing furniture against or introduce colour through painting and patterns through wallpaper.
Enter the trend for internal divisions such as central walkaround walls where joinery, fireplaces or audio visual equipment can be placed to create “zoning” in open plan spaces.
“As there are fewer walls, underfloor heating is usually adopted instead of radiators. Islands in the kitchen are also created to enable plenty of worktop space. Bedrooms with an abundance of windows need to have a blackout curtain for night and a sheer curtain to stop glare during the day,” says Rebecca Wakefield, at Banda Property. “There’s often no space above floor-to-ceiling £9.8 million, with Strutt & Parker (struttandparker. com), main and left windows so the track for curtains needs to be recessed into the ceiling – and that usually means operating it electronically.”
The design concepts for the two £25 million duplex penthouses at London’s South Bank Tower are being created by Dara Huang at Design Haus Liberty, with glass in some unexpected places. “Between the bathroom and bedroom, we incorporated privacy glass which becomes a two-way screen when the movie projector is turned on,” explains Huang. “The use of glass in interiors can also provide a real sense of liberty. Although it is impossible for anyone to see you in the penthouse, this ‘exposed’ space instils a visceral sense of freedom.”
Advances in manufacturing allows glass to be tinted, toughened, sandblasted, etched, antiqued and mirrored, she says. “It’s a beautifully strong yet light material that brings another layer to interiors: reflecting light, adding layers of interest and allowing spaces and light to flow.”
Knowing what colours and textures to introduce as a balance is crucial. Marianne Shillingford at Dulux, says: “Where natural light enters the room, paint the surfaces it hits with pure white or very pale cool shades which will reflect light further into the space.” Dulux Light & Space paint contains Lumitec which reflects twice as much light as an equivalent standard emulsion.
Creating more light also means your space can take a moodier colour. “The trend now is for deeper more sultry colours – muted organic browns, greys, greens and blues. These colours are likely to remain popular for some time,” she adds.
Once you have enough light, floors can take a darker turn with smoky oaks and the grains, colours and textures in feature flooring like chevron and herringbone highlighted.
Joe Burns at Oliver Burns, has a few predictions: “Coloured glass is an increasingly popular choice for our ultra-high net-worth clients’ homes, particularly when bringing a luxurious accent to rooms. Strong, primary colours, in particular blue, are striking when used in chandeliers and create a visually stunning focal point.
“Glass is one of the most versatile design elements available used to obscure, brighten, enhance and illuminate for both exposure and privacy. Bullet and blast-resistant glass is increasingly requested by our wealthiest clients, providing them with added security and peace of mind.”
£1.599m, a three-bedroom by St George (berkeleygroup.co.uk)
£600,000 via Hunters (hunters.co.uk)
From £4m, by Mount Anvil and FABRICA (queenswharf.co.uk)
Glass extensions and skyplexes are replacing walls, writes Fiona Brandhorst
£5.95m via CBRE Residential (cbreresidential.com)