The owners wanted to create a new environment; they liked the idea of having a contemporary house and agreed that the house lent itself to this. However they were concerned that contemporary design could be cold and impersonal.
The brief was to create a contemporary family home, not in a stark clinical sense, but rather, practical with a feeling of warmth and soul. The key to the overall success of the design was to re-think the dynamics of all the spaces and change the existing layouts to provide a design and flow which responded to their brief. The family had a large collection of vintage travel posters that they wished to display prominently around the house, this formed the starting point for the design and formed a strong graphic backdrop to the overall aesthetic.
Although the house was c. 3500 sq. ft, with generous room sizes, the house was very vertical comprising of 7 floors, with each room being effectively on a half-landing; with a central core staircase connecting them. Overall the rooms seemed disconnected from each other without flow or relationship between them. The staircase and hallways were poorly lit and had a gloomy feel.
The design revolved around redefining the General Arrangements. Light was brought back into the staircase, by adding extra skylights on the top floor and also adding a floor-to-ceiling window on the third floor half-landing.
It would have been logistically complex to replace the existing staircase, so instead the existing structure was stripped back, re-clad in a greyed oak and re-fitted with a bespoke spindle, banister rail and newel posts, to be in keeping with the new warm contemporary aesthetic.
The Ground floor configuration was maintained. However the office was redesigned to double as a guest room and as a study in which one wall was lined with write on/wipe off wallpaper.
All home office paraphernalia, such as printers and filing was contained within a bespoke joinery cupboard. The otherwise redundant understair space was redesigned to accommodate a bespoke joinery shoe storage unit.
The existing kitchen was located on the second floor which was impractical as the heart of the home. The kitchen was relocated to the first floor at the rear of the property which had existing access to the terrace and garden by way of 2 pairs of French doors in a masonry wall. The existing wall and French doors were removed which increased the opening to 4 metres, flooding the space with natural light and visually connecting it with the garden. Full height sliding doors set in varnished hardwood frames were installed, creating a light and airy kitchen with a great view and direct access to the terrace and garden.
We positioned the kitchen island to look out over the garden and created a separate pantry. There was an existing chimney but no fireplace, so a gas ribbon fire was specified along with some casual seating in the form of a chaise longue. For the other side of the room a large bespoke banquette and a contemporary oak table were designed for casual dining.
The second floor where the kitchen was originally located was reconfigured with a larger landing at the top of the stairs, a very generous-sized utility room, a gym and a family TV room.
The utility room featured bespoke joinery units to accommodate an airing cupboard, washing machine and dryer; which were installed at waist height with washing baskets under so there was no need to bend down to change over the washing. The high level utility room joinery units where white matt lacquer and the low-level units were midnight blue with a white composite worktop. These clean lines were set against a feature wall of Cole & Son Fornasetti “Clouds” wallpaper.
The TV Room featured a bespoke illuminated TV wall cabinet with numerous cupboards and alcoves for displaying items and accessories.
On the third floor, the brief was to create a welcoming, calming, formal living room. The existing French windows and Juliette balcony over the terrace below were removed and replaced with floor to ceiling casement windows set in varnished hardwood frames. The existing fireplace was removed and replaced with a bespoke Pietra Serena stone fireplace with clean confident lines. Bespoke storage and display units were designed for either side of the fireplace incorporating a decorative log store feature. A large and very comfortable L shaped sofa and ottoman were specified as well as some comfy armchairs with tables and lamps beside them.
On the fourth floor, bedrooms 2 and 3 and accompanying ensuite bathrooms were redesigned as spaces personal to the family’s children. In bedroom 2 a bespoke fun mid-height bed unit was designed with storage shelves to be used as steps up to the bed; and with a den underneath the bed with sliding doors and an illuminated typographic “S” inside.
Bedroom was 3 designed to provide a “cool” bedroom—incorporating a secret space to chat/hang out with friends. A bespoke joinery unit was designed; which when opened contained a chest of drawers upon which there is an upholstered seating area.
For the bed a bespoke matt lacquered truckle bed was designed with cushions along one side so it could double as a daybed. In the rest of the room a classic bubble chair along with a desk completed the design.
The existing master suite on the fifth floor comprised of an over-sized bedroom, a small ensuite bathroom and a small dressing room. The master suite was reconfigured to become a smaller but better proportioned bedroom, a luxurious bathroom suite and a bespoke dressing room.