René Dekker, A Sophisticated Renovation In Kensington

by Becky Hoh in Interior designed homes

The warm tones, sturdy shapes and materials used throughout this 3,000 sq ft mansion flat in Kensington seem to envelope you as you enter in.

Plenty of natural wood, curved furniture pieces and textured finishes make it an impressive but inviting haven, amidst the grandeur of the prestigious west London garden square location. The transformation of the three bedroomed apartment was undertaken by award winning interior designer René Dekker, known for his sumptuous and glamorous projects, with plenty of heart.

‘Originally one very large home, the building had been subdivided into apartments many years ago, when space was not the premium it is now,’ explains Dekker. ‘The listed mansion flat needed new life breathed into its tired interior. No major changes were made to the actual layout, but I worked very closely with the architect and project manager to ensure that the finished product exceeded the client’s expectation, yet kept English Heritage agreeable.’

Set out over one floor, it begins with a large entrance hall, defined by a strikingly ornate Christopher Guy mirror, before leading off in one direction to the principle rooms and in the other to the bedrooms, all with ensuites. It holds the much coveted and much protected original features including very high ceilings, well-proportioned skirtings, deep elaborate cornices and a mahogany entrance door. All of these elements provided both the inspiration and back drop for Dekker’s plan, which in his words was to ‘provide the magic.’

All the cornices and skirts and have been painted in a crisp white and the walls throughout the property have then been given a darker, muted, mushroomy colours, in order to let those original features shine. For example, the entrance hall has cognac polished plaster, and in the master bedroom one wall is upholstered in taupe nubuck, inside an architectural folly that had to be kept due to the listing. The main reception room has had a specialist finish applied, skilfully painted to look like aged silk and the study is panelled in dark oak. It feels as though, everything you touch and see is made to promote both comfort and solidity.

Speaking particularly of the reception room walls, Dekker, who worked closely with specialist decorators DKT to create the blend of taupe, gold and pearl, gives you a sense of how important this aspect was to him.

‘The original sample was a small piece of water damaged silk I was determined to recreate on a large scale. It’s never a problem getting exactly the right finish as long as you work with professional people who understand the value of the finished product.’

The room is dominated by the dark panelled joinery, and positioned above the Chesney’s fireplace is a colourful art work by Iranian born artist, Hessam Abrishami that adds a little punch to the grown up colour palette and feel in this room. Two very modern Italian sofas, by Minotti, bring a the contemporary flavour too. Dekker used heavily gilded lamps from Porta Romana which all sit squarely on a contemporary silk and wool rug from Tai Ping.

The guest WC is tucked away just off the entrance hall and its walls are clad in honed Noir St Laurent marble.

At the end of the corridor just off the hall is the master suite, the bed is centrally located, sitting elegantly between the aforementioned folly and strewn with linens from a plethora of fabric companies, including Fox Linton, J Robert Scott and Alton Brooke, punctuated with an ottoman from Woodbrooke. Overhead is another slightly more contemporary touch with the Barovier and Toso chandelier.

When it comes to the children’s bedrooms, Dekker is known as something of a seasoned veteran and these do not disappoint.

‘Creating a bedroom for a young 16 year old girl, who is keen to study fashion design, was a challenge to avoid predictability,‘ Dekker describes. ‘I like children’s rooms to combine the vitality of youth and an element of fun with adult sophistication. It allows them to grow into the space without having to redecorate after two or three years because they suddenly grow up’.

The bedroom will definitely span teenager-dom to adulthood with a fun, fresh tangerine palette, but with a sophisticated feel that any discerning 16 year old would be proud to show off. Refined elements such as the deep buttoned ottoman and the contemporary take on a classical French bed by Collection Pierre, are juxtaposed with the almost cartoon like Fratelli Boffi desk chair, and make a great alternative scheme for the budding fashionista.

The boy’s room is a different more masculine blend, but based on the same principle of a sophistication with a little bit of playfulness thrown in, in this case from the clever bunk bed, which has a bottom bunk the size of a European double bed! Shades of charcoal and gun metal scatter cushions, not usually associated with a boy’s room, combine well with the faux fur throw by Romo and dark linen headboard. To one side there is a simple yet cool wall unit designed to house the all important TV and games console.

This apartment is all about the textures and finishes, that have been used cleverly to blend many opposites together beautifully, the historical with modernity, soberness with playful, grandeur that brings a sense of invitation, subtlety which provides a feast for the senses. Dekker has definitely provided the magic.

René Dekker  –

Christopher Guy  –


Chesney’s –

Minotti –

Porto Romano –

Tai Ping –

Fox Linton –

J Robert Scott –

Alton Brooke –

Barovier & Toso –

Collection Piere  –

Fratelli Boffi –

Romo –

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