Although located in a stunning Art Deco building in north London, this two-bedroom duplex apartment was definitely in need of an update and some TLC.
The lower floor consisted of a tiny, hallway blocked by solid stairs, two bedrooms, one the master with en-suite and the other a smaller double, as well as a tiny shower room.
The upper mezzanine floor was made up of a compact study and a small kitchen, all under a sloped glass roof, as well as a little outdoor courtyard space.
The apartment had amazing original windows and great natural light, but the kitchens, bathrooms and flooring were all dated and needed replacing.
You can watch the video at the end of this post to see some before photos.
The client contacted me at the start of 2017 and after an initial consultation, work started immediately. After taking an initial brief and considering all my client’s needs for the property, I decided to totally transform the space by knocking through the living room and smaller bedroom next door into an open plan living space that would showcase the five incredible original windows, and also house the re-located kitchen.
The solid stairs blocking the small claustrophobic entrance hall would also be relocated to the right of the front door, again opening the space and creating a sight line to the five windows on entering the apartment. A stunning bespoke metal staircase in a more open design would replace the dated version, designed and made by Jaz Asbury an incredibly talented artist and metal-worker friend of my client.
The old kitchen space, located on the small mezzanine level opposite a small bedroom, would become a new dressing room and shower room, forming a small but functional suite for when his daughters or guests stayed overnight.
The apartment had multiple boxed-in pipes belonging to an old, unused air-flow system making the already compact space seem even smaller. I requested that all of these be removed or relocated to further maximise the feeling of space.
Back on the lower floor, were two adjacent, impractical bathrooms, one with a tiny shower and the other, an en-suite to the master bedroom, housed the bath. I made the en-suite more luxurious by stealing some space from the shower room, using the left over space as a more practical guest wc.
Generally my style is quite masculine, but as the main occupant of the apartment was to be a single gentleman, I considered the finishes even more carefully. I wanted the design to echo some of the Art Deco roots of the building, but still be modern and functional.
I suggested a deep walnut herringbone flooring throughout, and dark grey cabinetry in the kitchen. In the living area, the wall with the five windows was completely stripped back to the brickwork and painted.
The walls would be kept mainly light throughout, I chose Dulux’s Night Jewels 6, with the darker Night Jewels 3 in the master bedroom.
I designed the new kitchen to be completely modern with dark grey cabinetry, Neolith Estatuario worktops, a walnut breakfast bar an a subtle matte gold backsplash. The client enjoyed cooking and was set on high-end Gaggenau appliances, so I incorporated these into the design, including a steam oven and teppanyaki grill. A wine fridge and an American style fridge-freezer were also must-haves, so careful planning for the compact 3.5m x 2m kitchen space was required.
The bathrooms were kept simple and mainly white with interest added by way of a clever tiling pattern in the en-suite using hexagon and herringbone tiles. The en-suite was also fitted with a Paiova bath from Duravit, which is wider at one end than the other, making it a great choice in a small space for an over the bath shower. I chose sanitary ware with clean lines, mainly from Duravit, matched with modern brassware from Graff.
Window dressings were kept uncomplicated with slatted wooden blinds in light grey in the living area, and softer roman blinds in the master bedroom. In the suite on the upper level, we had the challenge of the entire ceiling being glass, so a pleated blind system was installed throughout that reduced light and heat, making the space a lot more comfortable to spend time in on warmer days.
I always prioritise storage in my designs, so I spent a great deal of time designing solutions for each room. As this is a compact London apartment, clever use of space was vital. Bespoke cabinetry was made for the dressing room and master bedroom, maximising the available space. The dressing room storage also enclosed a small laundry area for the washer-dryer and I designed the master bedroom cabinetry to include a small but functional office area.
LIGHTING AND TECH
I designed the lighting to be subtle yet functional with spotlights used only in necessary areas, and LEDs incorporated into the bathroom shelving. Statement Voronoi III lights by Heal’s were used in threes in the master bedroom and above the dining table. A projector was also installed instead of a TV, so the hunt was on for a beautiful flush ceiling pendant that would not interfere with the projector imaging – more difficult to find than you’d think! Eventually, we settled on the Emerton flush pendant from Christopher Wray. The old electric storage heating system was also out-dated and taking up much needed wall space, so it was removed completely and replaced with an underfloor heating system.
The client was quite tech savvy and wanted to include a smart Loxone system into the apartment which allowed control of all the security, blinds, lighting, underfloor heating and sound from a smart phone, even from abroad when he was travelling.
The client already had most of his own furniture to bring into the apartment, so only a few items like the sofa, dining table and bio-fuel fire needed to be sourced. Light mid-century pieces were sourced to further maximise the feeling of space and to match what the client already owned.
When uncovering the boxing in, a soil-stack was discovered, which unfortunately could not be redirected removed, to disguise this we placed a freestanding Vauni bio-fuel fire in Nebula red in front of it and painted the pipe in exactly the same colour to give the illusion that the pipe was the flue for the fire.
A couple of multi-functional pieces were chosen to make the absolute most of the available space. In the living room, part of the shelving unit actually rotates on itself to reveal a clever double wall bed for extra guests, and in the mezzanine suite the double bed transforms into a deep, soft leather sofa.
My favourite piece for this project is the dramatic Knoll Grasshopper dining table in Rosso Rubino Marble, it just steals the show!
WATCH THE VIDEO
Massive thanks to Carrie Jeffreys for the photography.