16 Oct 2014

Luxury home transformation


When a young Russian couple bought a house on the prestigious Wentworth Estate in the Berkshire countryside, they were keen to transform the space to reflect their own stylistic preferences.


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We wanted to make our own mark on the property,” the couple explains. “It was cold and disproportionate, with high ceilings but low doors and windows. The house had no harmony and the interior looked clinical with no emotion; it was very modern, bland and minimalistic.”

With a vague understanding of the kind of look they wanted to achieve, the couple approached interior design specialist Alexander James Interiors to piece together a tailored look for the property.

The property is set over three floors, with the large double-height entrance hall leading to each principal room. Most of these rooms face south, overlooking the landscaped garden to the rear of the property and on the ground floor, double doors open up onto the patio. On the first floor, there are four bedroom suites, two of which include dressing rooms. Bedroom five features a beautiful curved balcony overlooking the garden. A cinema room, bathroom and music room can be found on the second floor.

The brief was to transform the minimalist interior into an opulent environment for entertaining using rich, warm colours with patterns and textures. Considerable structural changes to the house also needed to be considered within the substantial budget for this prestigious property transformation.

The project’s Interior Designer, Natalie Rudland explains: “When I first viewed the house, I could clearly see the potential. It’s a spacious, light property, with huge open areas that are ideal for entertaining.

“Lighting was paramount in the brief for this property as the client wanted several options through the day and evening to create different ‘moods’. We inserted recessed lighting into new cornicing throughout the ground floor, that could also be dimmed, and built in discreet lighting to the floating fireplace that we designed and installed. To increase maximum light and space into the kitchen and living room, we knocked through the wall in-between the double doors, and added one large glass panel.”

Changes made on the architectural side included the doors into the dining room being blocked in to become an office; large glass windows were inserted between the two sets of double doors in the kitchen and living room to create one large window, and let more light in; the kitchen was re-designed and built; an additional column was built in the kitchen as you stepped down into the family room and the steps were re-modelled and a second master bedroom suite was created on the first floor, with dressing room and en-suite.

Proportion was also very important as the home boasted large rooms with high ceilings, so large pieces of furniture were needed to fill the space. Sculptural pieces were selected with a hint of gold running throughout to fit the opulent look and glossy finishes were applied to the furniture to bounce the light back around the room. Rich, warm fabrics with texture and pattern were selected to add depth and hold their own against the shimmering polish plastered walls.

Bespoke elements

A substantial amount of the budget was allocated to building works. This included a bespoke marble fireplace which is lit discreetly from below, giving the illusion of a floating hearth. The chimney breast was also brought forward making this a grand focal point in the room.

In order to create privacy while dining, an impressive bespoke fret work screen was designed, commissioned and installed to separate the dining and family areas. Down lighters are used to highlight the intricate design.

A bespoke, oversized 2m2 mirror was commissioned for this property. An ornate frame in dark green and gold stipple features a channel within it containing LED lighting to provide a soft glow in the evening. The mirror itself, with antique bevelled diamond-shaped panels, reflects the chandelier above the dining table and mirrors the fret work panel opposite it.

Alexander James Interiors worked closely with the kitchen designer to ensure that the kitchen aesthetics complemented the rest of the open plan scheme. Having chosen an earthy green finish for the units, the black veined pale cream granite worktop was selected as a contrast and to create impact. Pale green glass splash backs were chosen to reflect the recessed lighting in the above units.

Significant elements of budget expenditure included designing and installing a large crystal spiral chandelier in the entrance hallway. Scale was very important as this was a double height entrance hall and all items installed in this room were large scale and drawn up first to make sure they were the right size, as shown in the drawing below. The high backed pleated chair was selected to mirror the shape in the chandelier, squares and hexagonals were used in other pieces to “play” with all the shapes in this room.

Impressive splendour

“With the house itself being grand I focussed on maintaining grandeur throughout,” continues Natalie. “Using a selection of warm and rich colours, together with bold patterns and textures, it created a warming and relaxing atmosphere with a rich gold accent. Large sculptural pieces of furniture were used to create impact in the open spaces. A magnificent chandelier was commissioned to complement the large double height entrance hall. It was really important for me to find the right feature lighting to accompany the architectural lighting.”

Successful zoning

Marina Demarchuk, the project’s Interior Architect, adds: “Starting with an empty canvas provides so much opportunity. With large open plan living areas, I used special lighting techniques to highlight different zones. This was complemented by bespoke architectural features such as the handcrafted screen and mirror as well as the specially designed fireplace in the formal living room.”

The couple are thrilled with the end result: “We wanted functional spaces that connected and were great for family lifestyle and entertaining. Alexander James Interiors completely transformed the interior 360 degrees and now the property has the wow factor effect. The end result is an attractive wonderful home for us all to live in and entertain.”

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