A Family Apartment in Chelsea that Oozes Style as well as Luxury

by Jamie Mitchell in Interior designed homes

Architecture and interiors practice SHH went all out on the design of this family home, turning to some of their most trusted suppliers and craftspeople to create a scheme that’s truly unique.

To paraphrase erstwhile editor in chief of Vogue magazine Edna Woolman Chase, luxury can be bought. Style, one has to possess. So it is with this exquisite apartment in the heart of London’s Chelsea. Replete with fine furniture and materials, the interior of the family home also revives the restrained glamour of art deco, and uses fine craftsmanship to create a design scheme that’s so much more than mere luxury.

Designed by interiors and architecture practice SHH, the three-storey apartment was little more than a shell when the family bought it; but SHH has brought all the skills it has gleaned in more than 21 years in business to bear on the creation of four bedrooms, two kitchens and generous living areas that are spread across 600 sq m. The practice also turned to some of its most trusted and valued contacts – skilled craftspeople as well as suppliers of the best furniture and materials –to create something truly unique.

You enter the apartment on the upper of three floors, through a set of tasteful yet unassuming double doors, and arrive in a grand entrance hall where your eyes are immediately drawn to a free-floating triple-height staircase; behind it, a 12 metre-high bas relief depicts, in intricate detail, the leaves and branches of an olive tree. The relief, which continues down all three floors, was created by SHH and finishes expert DKT.

The entrance hallway is lined with a palette of natural materials in neutral and soft brown shades: a palette that has been applied to every surface, from the grey and chocolate-coloured stones of the floor and skirting to the polished plaster walls and bronze panels of the ceiling. Layers of lighting offer a range of settings designed to change the mood subtly when required, through a combination of wall-lights, inset ceiling spots and strip lighting, as well as a backlit bronze panel in the centre of the space. For the ceiling, SHH worked with Seamless Industries to create specially-perforated bronze panels featuring a continuation of the olive tree motif.

‘It was a privilege to work on a project with such incredible attention to detail and where we could use the very finest materials and finishes. This scheme was definitely something pretty special for all the team.’

Though generous in size the layout of the apartment did present some challenges to the SHH team. There was little natural light, especially on the upper floors. Says project architect Guy Matheson: ‘We took the unusual decision to locate the master bedroom on the upper floor to ensure that the main living quarters in the central storey below benefitted from the apartment’s major light source – the outside garden.’

Across from the main entrance doors, a further set of double doors lead into a shared dressing room, which also serves as a lobby for the twin master bedrooms – his and hers. The dressing room has cream coloured wardrobes, whose slim doors are covered in leather and have horn handles from Ochre.  In the centre of the room is a specially designed island which stores accessories. Created by Seamless Industries, it has a lustrous metallic surface and is topped with leather. An oak floor – Versailles parquet from Weldon Flooring – gives the space a warm, lived-in feel.

In ‘her’ bedroom, the style shifts to a much more feminine tone, with soft cream and pastel shades bathed in light from full height windows along the far side of the room. A luxurious bed by Silvano Grifoni has an ornately carved headboard upholstered in leather, while a delicately detailed fireplace by Stone Studio and carved from Bateig Beige limestone is set against a wall of White Cloud onyx supplied by Mega Marble.

The adjoining en suite bathroom boasts one of the scheme’s most outstanding features, a freestanding bath carved from Italian Giallo Sienna marble. The piece is so heavy that the bathroom floor had to be specially reinforced to ensure it would take the weight.

In ‘his’ bedroom, the bed is a mahogany frame with reindeer suede upholstery; opposite the bed is a wall of bespoke stained-oak units and a fireplace of Hermosa stone.

Described by the designers at SHH as ‘the social hub of the house,’ an expansive 120 sq m living space on the middle floor is divided into four ‘zones’ – the piano area, the dining area, the TV area and the fireplace area. In the latter of these, the fireplace is hewn from a single slab of Rosso Vaticano onyx, sourced from Stone Studio and is surrounded by sofas and chairs by J Robert Scott.

Bespoke lighting sconces placed either side of the fireplace were made by Ochre to a design by SHH which is based on eucalyptus leaves. The floral design recalls that of the olive tree bas relief of the entrance hall. ‘Many of the design ideas stem from plant and organic forms,’ says Spence. ‘It is the thread that pulls through the apartment’s design.

Less grown-up in style – but none the less carefully designed – are two children’s bedrooms, again one for ‘her’ and one for ‘him’. The girl’s bedroom, fit for a princess, has pink wardrobe doors and a hot pink Tai Ping rug, while pumpkin-inspired pouffes add to the fairytale feel. A bespoke coronet, specially commissioned from Swedish-based designer Olga Popyrina, turns a simple sofa into a throne.

More fun is to be had – for the whole family this time – on the lower floor, where movies are screened in the cosy, luxurious home cinema, whose walls are lined in soft grey striped Loro Piana cashmere. According to Matheson, the client was particularly interested in having a home cinema: ‘Cinema and audio-visual are quite an important interest in his life and he was keen to get the best audio-visual.’

Oversize floor cushions make a soft vantage point for the children at the front, while the adults sit back in a row of four custom-built chairs complete with authentic drinks holders. At the back of the room is a bar for drinks, coffee and snacks. Vintage photographic prints – many featuring Marilyn Monroe (by Eve Arnold) – were chosen to add a sprinkling of Hollywood stardust. Technology specialists Phaseliner worked with SHH to set up the audio-visual technology.

What is evident throughout this scheme is the pride both designer and client have taken in the creation of luxurious, stylish, yet also practical family home, a sentiment echoed by Matheson. ‘It was a privilege to work on a project with such incredible attention to detail and where we could use the very finest materials and finishes’ he says. ‘This scheme was definitely something pretty special for all the team.’

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