This apartment is within the Grade-II listed Westminster Fire Station residences in Victoria, London. It has one reception room, three bedrooms, one en-suite shower room, one bathroom and one guest cloakroom. When I was conceptualising this apartment and executing it, I envisaged active and stylish Londoners living there who wanted their home to be an oasis in which to unwind and entertain. I also reminisced about when my friends and I were all living in New York in our early 20s and how exciting that was. Back then we all brought a different flavour and style to the décor but we worked together to ensure there was a harmony and flow. I still love layering different aesthetics and visual references in my designs today.
The spatial challenges of the apartment informed the brief. It’s a ground and lower ground floor duplex which won’t appeal to everyone. It’s also tucked away on the corner off the resident’s courtyard, so it’s very quiet for a city apartment. So quiet, in fact, that it could verge on feelings of loneliness, so it was important to enhance that sense of being enveloped and to add depth, colour, pattern and ambient lighting. I knew my job was to draw out the apartment’s best features and add drama in a luxurious, fun, and wholly unexpected way.
In true Studio L style, it’s never any ‘one’ thing we’re inspired by. Photography very much informed this project – specifically work by Slim Aarons, titled Joan Collins Relaxes, C.Z. Guest and Lake Worth. That imagery helped me define the concept, which ultimately morphed into 1980s Palm Beach vibes combined with 1950s Hollywood Regency. When I saw the photo of Joan Collins in her powder pink bedroom with her matching pink poodle, that was it. I set myself a challenge to recreate that photo in the primary bedroom but with a more modern look. I love surprising people.
I wanted the entrance to capture the concept, colour and style you find throughout the rest of the home. That iridescent pot was a real find and I used a lot of iridescent elements elsewhere, too. I love the glazed bricks Openstudio Architects designed. It’s a beautiful building.
Coming of age in the 80s, I have fond memories of the décor and style from back then and pulled together lots of vintage pieces with more contemporary styling. One of my aunts had an identical mirror to this one, which I got from Anemone Interiors, and I’d always admired it as a young girl. I think the antique Swedish bombe chest juxtaposed with it is great.
Here I wanted to draw the eye down, so I designed a custom ombré stair runner that is a darker citrine green at the top and gets lighter as you move towards the lower ground floor. I designed it so it arcs on the half landing instead of being straight corners – it’s a little detail that really helps draw your interest downward. The wall lights are Greenstone from Marc Wood and the vintage art is from Ground One Six.
The Living Room
When I paired that Ralph Lauren fabric and the neon one from Metaphores together, it soon became clear that Palm Beach in the 80s was the direction we were moving in. The Ilse sofa by George Smith in this Ralph Lauren fabric is one of my favourite pieces ever. The hyper chrome lamps with those knife pleat shades and the mohair Little Temptations Mario Bellini vintage armchairs are also standouts. Ultimately, I think the alpaca rug best communicates what the room is about – sumptuous, fun and inviting.
The Dining & Kitchen Area
The photo of C.Z. Guest by Slim Aarons was the inspiration for the dining area. The Shimmer Dining Table by Patricia Urquiola from Glas Italia is a genius product that adds so much intrigue and vibrancy to the space, as are the vintage rattan banana leaf dining chairs with seat cushions covered in a fuchsia Rubelli moiré. I also love those gilded, Hollywood Regency American Eagle wall shelves. They’re just so appropriate for the photo and the era. Other highlights include the rattan bookcase and the blue enamelware on the top of the cabinets. The bookcase is from Anemone Interiors again. I enjoy subversiveness, so I like that the glo ball on the bookcase act as a source of ambient lighting. For the kitchen, I wanted to elevate a traditional shaker style into something more refined, so I added a wide double beaded soft edge to the cabinetry.
The Downstairs Cloakroom
A beachy, bohemian vibe was my inspiration for the washroom – I love the shiplap clad walls. All the art here works because I designed the room to mimic a nostalgic, kitsch gallery, but I also fell in love with the black and pink oriental carved rug. The sanitaryware is from Lefroy Brooks.
The Main Bedroom
This is the bedroom where Joan Collins was the inspiration. I designed the headboard and asymmetrical swag canopy in a moiré fabric from Dedar (which you can buy at Liberty). The lamps are vintage Maison Jansen, the Italian mid-century chandelier is from Morentz, and the bench is from Ground One Six. The wool and silk band rug is from The Rug Company, the 50s phone is from Etsy, the brass side tables are from Dorian Caffot de Fawes Antiques and the notepads are from Smythson.
Here, I was inspired by the ceiling of Chiltern Firehouse which was made by Studio KO cleverly basket-weaving old fire hoses. I applied that idea to the floor and designed it as a mosaic. Because the architecture and finishes have a bit of a beach vibe, what better way to bring the outdoors in than create the feeling of a sexy outdoor shower? That 4m-tall glass pane looking out into the private lightwell is a great surprise. The sanitaryware is from Lefroy Brooks again and the storage is Kartell's Componibili.
The Second Bedroom
The mural paper by Jennifer Shorto called ‘A Journey Through Japan’ inspired this room. I designed the custom headboard to emulate the irregular waves, even going so far as to double pipe the waves in between the two main fabrics. The fabric on the bedspread and cushions has a slight shimmer to it and was inspired by the celestial paper on the ceiling (by Custholm) which perfectly sets off the Le Klint bouquet pendant. The standout elements are the headboard, the vintage 80s Murano glass table lamps from Anemone Interiors and the Jonathan Adler cushion. I love the pink onyx and brass side tables, too; I’ve always been a huge fan of the Scarpa’s (Tobias and Afra) furniture. This chair of theirs I recovered in a nubby Pierre Frey textile which works beautifully.
The Third Bedroom
The wallpaper and neon were my inspiration for this room. I’ve long wanted to use the ‘Deconstructed Stripe’ paper and the ‘Metaphores’ acid green textile on the curtains. Because this room is of the size to handle both, I started with them both. The Fabio Lombardo for Flos 'Aeto' Wall Lights from Morentz are amazing. They’re unapologetically 80s yet look completely current. The stack of lacquer boxes are from Jonathan Adler, the desk blotter and pad are from Smythson, the round mirror is from John Lewis and the carved hand is from Etsy.
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Photography by Studio Rochowski.
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