Rooms of his own

Post-di­vorce, in­te­rior de­signer Tom Cox was ready to make a big life change and move out of London. Then he came across a flat in Barnes he could see his fu­ture in. By Ali Heath. Pho­to­graphs by Alexan­der James

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - Contents -

In­te­rior de­signer Tom Cox’s first home as a sin­gle man

THINK ‘BACH­E­LOR PAD’ and the fol­low­ing might come to mind: large leather so­fas, shiny sur­faces and over­pow­er­ing tele­vi­sions. For in­te­rior de­signer Tom Cox, how­ever, as a sin­gle man liv­ing alone, home is any­thing but bland.

Through­out his flat, the walls are cu­rated with a cool col­lec­tion of cov­etable pieces: an­tique oil paint­ings, old Dutch mas­ters, mod­ern ab­stracts and neon signs. ‘Art has al­ways been a pas­sion,’ he says. ‘I started buy­ing vin­tage signs and wooden fish­ing tro­phies, and that evolved into sourc­ing art for my fam­ily’s in­te­rior-de­sign busi­ness. Col­lect­ing has be­come an ob­ses­sion.’ Even the tele­vi­sion, dis­creetly placed above an el­e­gant mar­ble-topped chest of draw­ers, is a Sam­sung Frame art TV, rather than a straight­for­ward plasma.

Cox, who pre­vi­ously worked in sales and ac­qui­si­tions in the City, joined his par­ents’ in­te­ri­ors com­pany 10 years ago, tak­ing over the busi­ness side as well as work­ing on de­sign projects, and re­branded it as Hám In­te­ri­ors. He also has his own prop­erty-de­vel­op­ment com­pany, Tom House. When he found his flat – on the first floor of an Ed­war­dian build­ing on the cor­ner of two leafy roads in Barnes, south-west London – he was on the brink of

up­ping sticks to Frome in Som­er­set, fol­low­ing his di­vorce.

‘I was ne­go­ti­at­ing on a house and sud­denly felt the tim­ing was wrong,’ says Cox. ‘The agent sell­ing my old home in Barnes showed me de­tails for this and it ap­pealed: a great lo­ca­tion, a ren­o­va­tion project and a long-term city bolt­hole, if I de­cide to take the coun­try leap in the fu­ture.’ With the feel of a small coun­try house, rather than a con­ven­tional London pied-à-terre, and park views all around, this is where he spends his work­ing week, be­fore es­cap­ing to Som­er­set to stay at a friend’s cot­tage at week­ends with his dogs Boo and Indie.

The flat was in a state of dis­re­pair, but had strong ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures, in­clud­ing large pic­ture win­dows, high ceil­ings and orig­i­nal fire­places. Cox set to work open­ing up the liv­ing spa­ces, knock­ing down the wall be­tween the kitchen and sit­ting room and re­plac­ing it with a see-through par­ti­tion made from a re­claimed shopfront win­dow, found in a sal­vage yard, which cre­ated a view from the front to the back of the space. He also added clever stor­age and good-qual­ity dec­o­ra­tive fin­ishes. The work took three months and was, he says, ‘a per­sonal labour of love: each de­tail was con­sid­ered. It’s the first home I’ve ren­o­vated since I’ve been on my own and it felt lib­er­at­ing to push my own creative bound­aries.’

Cox chose a pal­ette of nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als – wood, mar­ble, sisal and stone – and earthy paint colours, al­low­ing bold pat­terned tex­tiles, fur­ni­ture and art to take cen­tre stage. A self-con­fessed foodie, he wanted the kitchen to be mainly free­stand­ing, and to that end com­bined cus­tom-de­signed units with a large 19th­cen­tury dis­play cup­board and a for­mer draper’s ta­ble, which he trans­formed into a work­ing is­land with a cus­tomin­laid brass top. The wash­ing ma­chine and stor­age for house­hold prod­ucts are tucked away be­hind be­spoke cab­i­netry and a La­canche range cooker has been squeezed into a chim­ney breast. Cop­per pip­ing adds an in­dus­trial touch, while

‘It’s the first home I’ve ren­o­vated since I’ve been on my own and it felt lib­er­at­ing to push my own bound­aries’

the heated rails also elim­i­nate the need for space-con­sum­ing clothes air­ers.

Next door, the sit­ting room has been painted in warm coun­try-house colours from Far­row & Ball, and fur­nished with a clas­sic Wil­liam Ye­oward sofa, pat­terned cush­ions, and one-off an­tique and vin­tage finds. A deep win­dow seat adds fur­ther stor­age and the long re­fec­tory ta­ble is used for both din­ner par­ties and work meet­ings. The mas­ter bed­room suite is wardrobe-free and rest­ful, thanks to a lux­u­ri­ous be­spoke dress­ing room that can dou­ble as a spare bed­room. Even the bath­room has a dec­o­rated look, with dra­matic pen­dant lights from Jamb and brass bath­room fit­tings by Wa­ter­works, which com­ple­ment the grandeur of the rest of the flat.

The ren­o­va­tion com­plete, Cox is buzzing with new ideas for the busi­ness. ‘We’ve just launched an on­line shop, sell­ing a mix of au­then­tic antiques, art and be­spoke fur­ni­ture,’ says Cox. As with his home, a space devoid of de­sign clichés, his aim with the com­pany is to chal­lenge per­cep­tions. ‘I’ve learnt not to con­form. Tak­ing risks and be­ing in­spired makes for in­fin­itely more per­sonal spa­ces.’ ham­inte­ri­;

Sec­ond right A glimpse of the im­pec­ca­bly de­signed dress­ing room from the kitchen, while Boo makes him­self at home

Right The re­claimed shopfront sep­a­rates the kitchen from the sit­ting room; vin­tage verdi­gris pen­dants and a re­pur­posed is­land add timeworn ap­peal

Right Even the bath­room is well-con­ceived, with brass fit­tings, more art and in­dus­trial-style light­ing

Right Cox’s main liv­ing space re­flects his eclec­tic modus operandi per­fectly

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