The brief was to keep and enhance the period details of the apartment, incorporating the client’s inherited furniture pieces and combining them with new contemporary items to create an eclectic mix that suited the clients' desired aesthetic.
The layout of the existing apartment was based around a long central corridor with rooms on either side.
All rooms enjoyed high ceilings, original cornices, skirtings, architraves and generously-proportioned windows. The central corridor that joined all the rooms, although in the centre of the apartment, had the benefit of borrowed light via fan lights above most of the room doors.
The two bathrooms were typically proportioned for an Edwardian mansion flat and were small and relatively dark.
On the north side of the apartment, there were two reception rooms and a bedroom. While on the south side, there was a further reception room, the kitchen and another bedroom. Meanwhile, on the west side, there were two bathrooms.
The rooms on the north side overlooked the central courtyard of the grand mansion block, with the nearest adjacent tall building circa 5m away. On the south side, the views were towards the city with the nearest adjacent tall structure some distance away. The effect of this is that there was a stark contrast in natural light levels between the north and south side of the apartment.
To make the apartment work for the clients and maximise all the available space, it was decided to amend the layout as follows. The two reception rooms on the north-facing courtyard side would be knocked through into one to create a generous open-plan library/dining room. By combining these two rooms into one larger space, it created a more cohesive feel to the apartment as a whole.
The light-filled southside reception room would become a music room, with a baby grand piano as its centrepiece.
It was decided that the bedroom on the south side would become the master bedroom. It had the advantage of a beautiful, tall tree outside the window, unusual for a fifth-floor apartment. The other bedroom on the north side would become the guest bedroom.
The kitchen would remain largely in its original position, albeit completely reconfigured and redesigned to incorporate a small island and a hidden utility area and a larder space.
The position of the kitchen door was moved so that it would be accessed via the central corridor rather than a small dog leg off the corridor as it was before. The remaining dog leg was incorporated into the new master bedroom.
The guest bedroom remained in its existing position, as did the family bathroom and a small coat cupboard accessed from the central corridor was created from part of the library.
For the majority of the spaces, wide-plank timber flooring in a warm pale grey tone was specified to tie the spaces together visually. The bedrooms were carpeted in a deep-pile soft grey carpet and the bathrooms were tiled, which was complemented with underfloor heating.
The lighting design for the apartment was challenging as the construction of the ceilings didn’t allow for any recessed lighting, so all luminaires had to be surface mounted or incorporated into the joinery.
The entrance to the apartment needed to feel warm and welcoming with no clutter. The original layout made no provision for a coat cupboard. As the corridor was relatively narrow, it couldn’t easily accommodate a joinery cupboard. Instead, it was decided to ‘nibble’ a small amount out of the generous library room adjacent to the hall to create storage for coats, shoes, suitcases etc.
So that the strong lines of the corridor were maintained and the cupboard was as unobtrusive as possible, an ‘invisible’ door was created, with no architrave and the skirting detail included in the door design, so that the whole wall read as one.
The high ceilings throughout the property were emphasised with a tonal colour scheme in half tones of grey picking out coving and skirting details. Large dramatic pendant lamps were specified down the corridor to emphasise its length, with a large round mirror and a console shelf creating a visual full stop at the end.
The two reception rooms on the north side of the property were integrated into one to create a new library room/dining room. This helped natural light flow from one room to another, bringing a light, airy feel to otherwise dark spaces.
Part of the brief was to install a working fireplace to make the space feel warm and cosy, but because of the confines of the apartment block, it was not practical to install a gas fire and associated flue/chimney. However, a fire surround was designed and integrated into the new bespoke joinery unit. A cast-iron, realistic faux log burner was installed in the new fireplace surround, bringing a sense of cosiness.
A small portion of the existing room that formed the library was partitioned off to create the cloakroom in the central corridor. This made a small return in the library but wasn’t visually intrusive as the coving, skirting and dado detail wrapped seamlessly around the new return. This return was then integrated into the bespoke joinery bookcase, which was designed along the back wall, thus making the whole amendment feel natural and virtually invisible.
A large TV was integrated into an alcove above the fireplace so that the TV sat flush and did not dominate the space. The bespoke joinery unit along one wall provided much-needed display space for objects, books and collectables, and feature wall lights with brass details completed the joinery unit.
Once again, period details were picked out in half tones of pale greys to give the space a warm and calm feel.
The kitchen benefitted from a window with views of the beautiful, tall tree outside, which it shared with the primary bedroom. For the kitchen, a fresh, bold and refreshing colour palette was selected; pale lilac lacquer, palest dove grey and gold details with bleached wooden shelving created a new and bright modern kitchen with plenty of visual interest.
The bespoke joinery kitchen layout featured a centre island with a pale grey composite worktop and a dramatic gold pendant light. Traditional shaker-style kitchen units, some featuring glass fronts to showcase glassware, added to the visual interest. Cabinetry featured gold cup pull handles and knobs, which helped give the kitchen a contemporary feel.
The same warm-toned wide plank floor as the rest of the apartment continued into the kitchen; this was repeated in the underlit wooden open shelves for plants and books. The splashback was created by glazed porcelain artisan metro tiles in soft tones with a pale grey border.
The furniture in the dining room consisted of the clients’ much-loved inherited pieces that were renovated, restored and French polished, bringing them back to their former glory.
In contrast to the period furniture, the space was contemporised by a large contemporary, brass pendant light with exposed squirrel cage lamps to sit above the dining table. An opulent, oversized, gilt-framed wall mirror bounced light into the room. Bespoke joinery alcoves were positioned on either side of the chimney breast, making the most of all available space. The clients’ richly-patterned Persian carpet helped pull all the visual elements together.
The music room was designed as a bold and dynamic space; bright colours and patterns offset the drama of the polished black baby grand piano that was the centrepiece. To balance the visual presence of the piano, an extra-large, wooden-framed mirror was installed on one wall and a classically-styled chaise lounge added an air of decadence. A bold statement multi-coloured Missoni chevron rug and dramatic mid-blue bespoke joinery unit with brass wall lights above completed the room.
Master bedroom and en-suite
A soft, romantic feel for the master bedroom suite was created with a palette of bruised pinks, greys and taupes, with a mix of tactile fabrics to create a decadent mood. The French-styled bed in natural-coloured grey linen with a bleached wooden frame complemented the elegant classically-styled, bleached-out bedside tables, which had staggered height vintage ribbed globe pendant lights above them. A large vintage metal distressed chandelier was sited above the bed.
A bespoke full-height joinery wardrobe in taupe satin lacquer along one wall hides drawers and hanging items. A gentle and very subtle texture wallcovering was specified to enhance the feeling of calmness and opulence.
Although small, the family bathroom profits from unusually high ceilings and had the benefit of a window, allowing natural light into the space. A simple, light palette of soft whites and Carrera marble-effect porcelain tiles were selected to make the space feel as big and as light filled as possible.
To add character to this small space, new ceiling coving and picture rails, which matched details found elsewhere in the property, were specified. This helped to bring a period feel to the whole room and emphasise its height whilst also adding texture and visual interest. A simple ribbed globe pendant added accent lighting.
Storage was created through a bespoke white-lacquered cabinet above the WC, a mirror cabinet above the basin and the vanity unit provided a large storage area.
The classical bow-fronted, richly-coloured walnut chest of drawers, inherited by the clients, was the starting point for this room. This was emphasised by a classical gold gilt mirror above and a wall of panelled lacquer wardrobes along one wall. The upholstered bed in blue linen and the contemporary-styled fixed mirror bedside table gave this room a warm and welcoming feel.
The lighting design for the apartment was challenging as the ceilings were concrete, which meant that no recessed lighting could be installed. Accordingly, all ceiling light was provided by a minimalist architectural track lighting system. This supported the feature lighting, which was incorporated by way of pendants and joinery lighting.
By way of reconfiguration, clever use of colour and lighting together with bespoke joinery elements throughout, this property was completely transformed from a dark, tired apartment into a light-filled pied-a-terre.
It was essential that the apartment kept its character and atmosphere, and by taking an holistic and sensitive approach to the design and layout, LLI Design created a warm, friendly and practical apartment for the clients whilst staying true to the character of this grand mansion block.