an old of­fice space is con­verted into a home with se­ri­ous retro glam

With deft de­tail­ing and a tight in­te­rior edit, dec­o­ra­tor Hu­bert Zand­berg takes us through the re­birth of a Lon­don home

Condé Nast House & Garden - - CONTENTS - hz­in­te­ri­ors.com

There was no chance for the ar­chi­tec­ture and the in­te­rior de­sign to stand sep­a­rately, or for one to hap­pen be­fore the other, on this project. That’s what this is all re­ally about. The man­date was clear from the start: we had to turn what had been a tem­po­rary of­fice, over two floors, into a home for the young, dy­namic new home­owner. our stu­dio worked closely with ar­chi­tect Jan swanepoel, who we’ve col­lab­o­rated with be­fore on a project for the home­owner’s fam­ily, as the en­tire team had to adopt a very ar­chi­tec­tural ap­proach to make this a suc­cess.

The most im­por­tant chal­lenge, as the apart­ment is sit­u­ated on the ground and base­ment lev­els, was to get light into the space. our start­ing point was the base­ment level, which is oc­cu­pied by the bed­room and bath­room, and, more specif­i­cally, the light well that il­lu­mi­nates this floor. It was ev­i­dent that, to achieve a feel­ing of open­ness in what is es­sen­tially a very con­tained space, the en­tire back of the build­ing had to be sliced off and be­come glass. and then, of course, that brings in very ob­vi­ous in­te­rior ar­chi­tec­tural chal­lenges be­cause sud­denly the light well had to be dec­o­rated and de­signed. The ap­proach to this was of an in­ter­nal room, which is clear from the strips of white pan­elling, very much like in­ter­nal pan­elling, and the soft green wall. so you see, this re­ally was the crux of the project: ev­ery bit of ar­chi­tec­ture had to link with the in­te­rior be­cause ev­ery as­pect had a very spe­cific func­tion that in­formed and, ac­tu­ally, guided some part of the in­te­rior de­sign. They had to ex­ist co­he­sively or it would never have worked. even the out­side, which I sup­pose you could call ar­chi­tec­tural, had to func­tion as an in­te­rior space; in essence it’s an ‘out­side in­te­rior’ be­cause of the glass wall that blurs that in­ter­nal-ex­ter­nal bound­ary. It’s not as if this apart­ment has

land­scapes, so that thing of bring­ing the out­side in is a bit of a point­less ex­er­cise. It makes sense when you’re talk­ing about a project in south africa and you’re sit­ting on Bantry Bay, but in this par­tic­u­lar case there was no out­side to bring in, so we had to cre­ate it in a way that made it a part of the in­te­rior and it was dec­o­rated as such.

an­other as­pect that per­fectly ex­presses that link be­tween the ar­chi­tec­ture and in­te­ri­ors is the en­filade that we, de­lib­er­ately and with great ef­fort, cre­ated. It’s ba­si­cally four rooms – the bath­room, dress­ing room, bed­room and the ter­race – per­fectly lined up so that when you’re stand­ing out­side you can see your­self in the big mir­ror in the bath­room and when you’re in the bath­room you can see the green wall on the ter­race. It cre­ates these mag­nif­i­cent views and fur­ther en­hances the con­cept of open­ness so that you never feel like you’re in a base­ment. I’ve al­ways loved the idea of this dra­matic ef­fect, it’s as if you’re walk­ing through an old château. You see, there’s an ex­ag­ger­ated per­spec­tive that makes the space feel like it’s go­ing on for­ever.

There also had to be a cer­tain level of ele­gance that was ap­pro­pri­ate for some­one of a younger age but, at the same time, it had to be time­less. We didn’t want it to be too os­ten­ta­tious, as this would be a bit over­bear­ing, and we wanted it to have a cer­tain level of light­ness and, I dare say, fash­ion­abil­ity. To this end, we opted for a slightly retro ap­proach. The dan­ger, of course, was mak­ing it look a lit­tle too ‘done’, so when it came to the fur­nish­ings we needed to bring a plush­ness to it, a soft­ness that avoided it be­ing cu­bist. We opted for a lot of metal­lic, too, which drives that feel­ing of glam­our home when cou­pled with an old school-la style. We gave the kitchen and the en­trance hall a black-and-white treat­ment as a way of ty­ing it in and mak­ing it neu­tral in that ‘what’s not to like’ qual­ity that mono­chrome has. sim­i­larly, the bath­room is serene and con­tem­po­rary in white mar­ble.

The truth is that ev­ery­thing needed to work be­cause this is a very small home and you don’t miss a sin­gle el­e­ment in it. There’s no wasted space or cor­ner, ev­ery bit had to work visu­ally and prac­ti­cally. I think that makes the apart­ment look a lot big­ger than it ac­tu­ally is.

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