Those of you who live in a big city may know what it’s like to own a small apartment. It can be quite a challenge to make the most out of limited space; to create the perfect living environment without feeling cramped and overcrowded. But what happens if you're downsizing dramatically and moving into a transitional accommodation ahead of finding a much larger, more permanent home?
Our latest clients were in this very situation when they approached us, after selling their much larger London home whilst in the process of finding their dream house outside of the city. In the interim, they decided they needed a place which would act as a weekday residence and purchased a small apartment near work right in the heart of Bloomsbury. This incredibly tiny space was situated on the top floor of an apartment block overlooking the high street and provided us with a fresh new challenge!
Even though the downsizing wasn't a permanent move, our clients still needed this 65 square metre space to function as a liveable place until they found their idyllic country retreat. As our clients preferred to eat out and have takeaway during the week, this meant we could look at minimising the kitchen and potentially opening up this space into the living area.
With that in mind, we set out to completely strip out the old glazed partition to open up the kitchen/living area. This was an essential piece of internal renovation work for this tiny apartment as crazily enough, the current layout didn't allow for any wall to be long enough to fit a standard-sized sofa.
Our brief was to not only maximise space but also use a bold, rich colour palette influenced by their love of Farrow and Ball and their love of low-lit interiors from many years of travelling and staying in luxury boutique hotels which they found incredibly tranquil and cosy; the perfect look for an apartment so small.
We opted for an eclectic, almost bookish twist on the very popular Mid-Century look. The styling we've introduced has hints of those warm colours and patterns you associate with the 70s, yet we've used many contemporary design features to lift the look into the present day.
Despite it being a micro-sized apartment, they still needed as much storage space as possible, and one mandatory requirement was a minibar. Their previous home had a drinks trolley which would, unfortunately, take up too much room.
Embracing Farrow and Ball brief we chose five incredible colours in various tones. A lovely soft grey: Oxford Stone for the living room, a cool blue-green: Green Smoke for the fitted kitchen, A deep academic red: Picture Gallery Red for the drinks cabinet, and finally an eggshell tone: Joa's White for the bathroom and off-white: Elephant's Breath for the bedroom. What's great about choosing paint from the same brand is the immediate cohesion it brings to your interiors. With Farrow and Ball, they use a base of chalk, china clay and titanium dioxide to create their signature look.
John Lewis of Hungerford can colour match your units with your preferred colour, which is what we did with the kitchen cabinetry in the Green Smoke and drinks cabinet in the Picture Gallery Red. The red allowed this bespoke piece of furniture to stand alone and not look like a wall extension.
As neither clients are big cooks so there was no need for a full kitchen, so we installed a Miele microwave and an integrated under counter fridge, freezer and slimline dishwasher. Having extended the existing stud wall in the living room, we could insert new cabinet space behind in the kitchen to house and hide the electric boiler and services. To finish the new look we added electric Roman blinds in the recess, operated by remote control to help set the mood for those intimate nights in. The extra wall space also meant we could now add a cognac leather tufted glove Chesterfield sofa, along with an armchair and footstool from Arlo & Jacob, and two brass side tables from Swoon Editions.
Our 'Mid-Century with a twist' look was completed with some soft furnishings in rich colours and bold patterns, purchased from West Elm and Missoni Home. One of our favourite purchases and all the rage was the Samsung Frame TV which turns into a picture frame when not in use. Other details added to complete our finished look were some antique bronze light switches from Buster and Punch, and herringbone engineered dark oak flooring which ran through from the kitchen to the living area.
One of the most controversial choices for our Bloomsbury project was the bathroom interior. We decided to rip our the traditional bathtub and install a walk-in shower to immediately open up the room and give it more space. Our clients fell in love with the mustard crackle ceramic mustard tiles from Fired Earth, deciding to couple these with printed floor tile with a traditional monochrome ornate pattern. A Bauhaus vanity drawer unit and recessed wall cabinet from HIB Vanquish completed the interior, along with a Lusso Stone tap fittings, Drench heated towel rail and a Wayfair floating bath shelf inside the shower area.
In the bedroom, we commissioned bespoke side tables with shiny brass handles from Neville Johnson who also colour matched the units to Farrow & Ball's Elephant Breath. We installed linen roller blinds, an Astro reading light and some wall-mounted lights to surround the huge bespoke wall-mounted purple linen headboard from Abbotts Flooring.
THE FINAL LOOK
We know the colour combinations of this small apartment in Bloomsbury may not be everyone's cup of tea, but we were thrilled to be embracing a colour scheme which ultimately provoked such a strong emotive reaction as all interiors should do this. Another great example of this was our other brightly coloured renovation in Walthamstow earlier this year. Colour is ultimately an incredibly personal choice and our challenge is to answer the brief and design a fantastic space. We look forward to seeing how this new temporary home evolves over the next few months as our clients and belongings move in and they begin to make this apartment their new home.
Love Omar x