27 Nov 2019

Colouring in the streets of Chelsea

Located on a street lined with vivid multicoloured houses, this 1850s end-of-the-mews pied-à-terre, off the King’s Road in Chelsea, London, features a redesigned layout with bold interiors and bespoke furnishings to create the perfect environment to relax and entertain. London-based architecture and interior company TR Studio is responsible for the transformation. Here, Helen Thomas, Project Architect, and Tom Rutt, Architect and Founder of TR Studio, talks to i-build about the extensive renovation.


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In a project which spanned two years, TR Studio undertook extensive architectural adjustments to the entire lower ground floor, which was excavated and extended to create a harmonious living, dining and kitchen level. What was previously a bijou, unutilised patio, was extended to create a much larger kitchen and dining area.

The client wanted the property to act as an entertainment space for friends, as well as a comfortable family environment suitable for their teenage children. The building, however, was not fit for purpose and in desperate need of renovation. The lower ground floor needed particular attention as the rooms were “small and warren-like”.

An opulent restoration

This challenge was overcome through the complete transformation of the lower ground level, including an entirely excavated floor. Walls that previously separated the kitchen and living area were knocked down to create an open-plan layout. And, the small, unutilised patio was extended into the kitchen and dining area – topped with a glass roof to maximise daylight.

Helen explained: “The property had been in the client’s possession for around two years before the works began. Although previously used as a pied-à-terre, the run-down nature of the property prevented it from reaching its full potential.

“As the property is on the iconic Bywater Street, the client wanted to create a vibrant and colourful property in keeping with its surroundings. They envisioned a colour palette consisting of pinks and purples to match the picturesque street, with striking marbles to create a masculine yet sensitive environment. As the property serves as both an entertainment space for friends and comfortable living space for the family, the design needed to marry these two purposes together. This was the source of inspiration behind the complete renovation of the lower ground floor, which was opened up to create a communal living and dining area for everyone to enjoy.

“The original style of the building was very much kept to – with the ground- and first-floor levels remaining mostly unchanged. For example, one of the main features is the curving Victorian handrail on the staircase, which we reinstated to unify the house aesthetically to its 1850s heritage.”

Inspirational features

When asked if there were any complexities to the renovation, Helen explained: “Overall, the process was relatively smooth and efficient – planning permission took the standard statutory eight weeks, and the client was very sure of what they wanted from the project from the outset.

“The layout of the house was slightly unusual – being an end-of-terrace mews house with a laterally positioned front door. That said, instead of being a challenge, this feature served as a source of inspiration. We decided to complement this unconventional design by playfully combining colours to create an unexpected yet harmonious environment. The only problem was that we slightly ran over time. The project was due to complete in mid-December but overran until March as we waited for furniture. However, the build itself went according to plan.”

Sumptuous interiors

Tom continued: “The client was very certain in their creative vision and was central in choosing which materials and products to use. They wanted to use an abundance of colour to exert some personality into the property and have some fun with it. This took shape through the use of pinks and purples, juxtaposed with striking marbles. The direct, assured and confident vision of the client made this process very streamlined and efficient.

“The project remained within the budget of the build; however, the furniture budget was more flexible. The client wanted to finish the property with luxurious fabrics, marbles and artworks, which meant that they were open-minded about how much they spent.

“The property’s interior reflects the client’s desire to be bold and embrace vibrant colour schemes, featuring a deep purple study and inky green master bedroom. This playfulness of colour is highlighted by a series of carefully placed rooflights throughout the property which carry natural light across each floor. For the study, we added tall slot windows which specifically orientate the view to a quintessential Chelsea outlook of trees and ‘Arts and Crafts’ houses. This framing of the view provides a special moment every time one sits down at the study.”

Creating an escape from the country was incredibly important to the client, who primarily lives in a listed property outside of London. “The residence was designed in an urban, yet inviting style, featuring a living area with antique brass-accented light fixtures and an ebony timber sideboard with bronze details,” continued Tom. “These aspects were softened by low-level cabinets painted in Green Smoke by Farrow & Ball and an orange-flecked beige sofa, providing an eclectic, yet refined, atmosphere.”

Indulging the client’s spirit for entertaining, TR Studio oversaw the design of a beautiful bar unit with routed timber and curved edges. Instilling a sense of refinement, the team also designed a bespoke light-stained oak dining table and routed timber linen drawer as well as a striking marble sink accompied by black accents, giving the property a warm, yet opulent tone and ambience.

Complementing colours

“The property is nestled among the mews houses on Chelsea’s iconic Bywater Street, famous for its multicoloured properties,” adds Helen. “Originally a weak green colour, we initially planned to paint the exterior of the property grey, before deciding on a pink hue. The bold exterior ensured that the property was harmonious with its surroundings.

“The property’s front facade was painted in Farrow & Ball’s Cinder Rose, chosen to complement the colourful houses which line Chelsea’s iconic Bywater Street.

“The local community embraced the transformation of the house. Neighbours were influential in swaying our decision to paint the exterior of the property pink, with one commenting: ‘You’re not going to paint it grey, are you?’. The overall refurbishment was well-received, partially ensured by the fact that the builders established good relations with all of the neighbours during the transformation process.”

The conclusion

Tom’s advice for other home renovators is “Be engaged in the process and be prepared. It is good to have a very clear vision of what you want the outcome to be before you start building. Make decisions and stick to them. Tiny changes in the building or design process can cause a domino effect, which can affect the harmony of the entire project, But, most importantly; enjoy the process!”.

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