Gentleman’s Apartment | West London

The client discovered Artichoke’s joinery services shortly after buying this apartment and invited us to come and see the site for ourselves. Entering the space was like stepping back in time – the previous owner had done little since the 1960’s.

The décor looked tired and dated and the space was not efficiently laid out with three small bedrooms and lots of space wasted to hallway and corridors.

Space Planning & Architectural Challenges

The brief was to create a comfortable, luxurious space with a relaxed and informal feel. Equally important was marrying the high tech equipment required to service a fully integrated smart home with beautifully crafted interiors and customised storage solutions. Smart houses need smart planning. As experts in space planning, Artichoke was able to accommodate such equipment, building spaces out with panelling and plastering ceilings to disguise the tracks and equipment. The client, an experienced renovator, recognised it made sense for Artichoke to take full control of the project – there was no need for an architect.

 

Despite the relatively compact square footage of the apartment, we took advantage of its lovely aspect to create a feeling of space and light. The client was keen for us to design a scheme that was open plan with the kitchen connected to the living space. As part of a purpose-built apartment block, we had to consider how the changes necessary to open up the space would impact the floors above and below. Therefore, the challenge was to add customised storage and re-organise the space with no major structural alterations. Our solution was to use steels, fitted across existing openings in the original structural arrangement, to change the flow of the space. We knocked through walls and used panelled columns to cover structural beams across the ceiling to disguise structures beneath.

Aesthetic & Material Considerations

As no architect was involved, we were able to take a commanding position right from the start of the project. We controlled everything, which made it easier for all parties – we acted as architect, project manager, interior decorator, bespoke joinery designer and installer. The use of the space and the atmosphere created by the design of the fitted furniture led our approach. The results illustrate well the potential of bespoke architectural joinery to transform an interior. Working directly to the client in this way and taking the lead role, led both to efficiencies in communication and cost.

 

Kitchen & Living Room

The living room and wide sunny balcony link seamlessly with the kitchen – providing a comfortable layout to eat, cook and watch TV, whether alone or when entertaining. Seating at the counter provides the perfect spot to enjoy a simple breakfast or prepare food. Natural light floods through the space, and large windows provide uninterrupted views of the nearby park. The whole apartment is meticulously detailed with customised storage to satisfy the unique needs and taste of the client. The glazed shelving with brass brackets and cabinets provide opportunities to display beautiful objects and curios.

The Weldon weave parquet flooring in dark stained oak was carefully designed with borders around the furniture – design details which elevate the feeling of luxury. The built-in bench seat is covered in buffalo suede and illuminated from underneath. With cleverly customised storage design, it also houses subwoofers and equipment, electronics, and LED lighting, thereby disguising some of the high tech gadgetry needed for modern living.

We commissioned an artist to create the glass tabletop which is engraved with a ticker tape motif around the border – a theme repeated on the leather clad front door. The motif is a nod to memories of how stocks and share prices were tracked on Wall Street. The apartment is bursting with quirky bespoke design features related to the client’s past and present life and interests.

 

 

In the bright and airy kitchen, marble is used as a strong design statement adding character and drama. Calcutta Oro marble was chosen for its neutral, paired back colour and pronounced veining which complement the two-tone detail of the painted furniture and Nanz ironmongery. We introduced reeded glass (which is echoed in other parts of the apartment) and a planked ceiling to add an interesting retro American East coast vibe. Again, maximising storage space was a priority for the client, to house cooking supplies as well as a large collection of crockery and cooking equipment. Hidden cupboards are integrated at every opportunity – even above the canopy over the hob. So bespoke is this kitchen we even designed a customised drawer to store a special stand for the client’s Iberico ham slicer.

Ticket Office

We sacrificed the third bedroom to create a new study – the ticket office sits well within the structural columns. It’s a striking feature, both practical and quirky. The glazed room is reminiscent of a railway ticket office – hence the name.

 

Although it is centrally located, sitting perfectly between existing structural columns, it can be closed off as a private working space.

French oak, with Artichoke’s specialist bespoke joinery and aged finish, was chosen to bring warmth and character to the space, reminiscent of a traditional study or library in a grand country house. We designed and manufactured a bespoke Art Deco brass bracket to display a very special Hermes light.

As a surprise for a client who loves idiosyncratic features and clever customised storage, we created a secret whisky lift operated by a secret panel which, at the press of a panel, delivers a prized bottle of bourbon.

The barrelled ceiling has a hand painted mural depicting a starry sky with a plane flying towards the client’s home country. Illuminated with LED lights, the mural becomes a moody night sky.

The leather door through which one enters the apartment is not only beautiful but is a smart door, keypad operated and iPhone controllable. The elaborate design was a bit of fun adding unique character to the home.

Pocket doors were used throughout the apartment to save space and maximize opportunities for customised storage. A projector in the ceiling in the entrance hall projects modern art on the panel opposite.

In the guest cloakroom a sense of fun and glamour was achieved with an infinity mirror on the back of the sliding door that illuminates and sparkles and plays with the proportions of the space.  The hand painted silk wall paper from de Gournay – ‘Deco Monkeys’ in Scarlet Lady dyed silk – brings drama and character.

Travertine Bathroom

The Master bathroom is dressed in Travertine – a sedimentary rock with lots of layers running through it. The design concept was to use different cuts of stone on the floors and wall cladding so it felt like it was built from a big block of stone. The carved his and her basins are bespoke to cater for one favouring a higher sink to wash his face – a further expression of how this apartment is made to measure for the client.

The polished nickel trim around the stone adds a flash of sumptuousness without ostentation – a hallmark of Artichoke’s approach to luxury. Creating and installing the trim required great skill as nickel is notoriously difficult to work with; its easy to damage and tarnish. It was custom made and engineered before going on site to be fitted with white gloves.

Every opportunity was taken to customise storage in the bathroom, making the best use of space, with many cupboards discretely housed behind the marble and nickel. Our bespoke joiners designed the cupboards beautifully on the inside as well – lined with hand finished teak that brings warmth and earthy tones that contrast with the stone and metal. Teak was chosen as a timber which is incredibly water resistant.

Therapeutic delight is guaranteed with the addition of a steam generator in the shower.  A fold down seat made of teak provides a spa-like steam room experience in the ensuite. The mirror in the shower is fitted with a heat mat and demister to allow for shaving in the shower.  Our aim was to build in custom details which ensured our client has the best experience.

Marquetry Guest Bedroom

No expense has been spared on the second bedroom. The client wanted an idiosyncratic and extravagant room for guests to enjoy. For the banks of built in custom storage cupboards we used American red cherry with elaborate marquetry designed by us and featuring highlights from the neighbouring park. There are hidden jewelled insects, each representing a grandchild of the client, and providing a bug hunt game for them to find butterflies and beetles within the design when they come to stay. Motifs from the park were continued through details such as leaves embroidered into the silk carpet and the fabric for the curtains which was chosen to resemble the bark of a tree. The beds were made by us to house deep custom storage and LED strip lights. Artichoke developed a special treatment for the single glazed windows. We embedded hot water pipes, a bespoke grill and silent fans in the stone window sill to blow warm air over the glass to prevent condensation.

The handsome second bathroom is also lined in marble – the green stone is Vert d’Estours – chosen for its uniform green grain and butter coloured background, which provides a striking contrast to the soft grey of the Carrara marble used in the borders, floors and bespoke carved sink. The two tone detail gives personality to the bathroom and a feeling of understated luxury. The reeded glass screens are backlit with a light box and were added to disguise the existing window detail that we were not able to change. As in the rest of the apartment, customised storage was planned for maximum efficiency with numerous compartments to house toiletries and other bathroom paraphernalia.

Technical Considerations

As bespoke joinery specialists, we utilised clever and customised built-in storage throughout the apartment– most notably, a laundry zone is hidden behind secret doors in the panelling in the hallway. Every space – even less than 100mm was used to house utilities and the equipment and wiring necessary for a smart house. Voice control oversees all environmental conditions – heating, ventilation, A/C, TV and video, lighting, shading (curtains) are all operated via a Crestron systems control unit. systems control unit.

Built in ventilation systems were deployed to keep the movement of air to a maximum – fans are hidden in book cases which silently circulate air to create a comfortable environment. We had to design around all this equipment and find the right specialists to deliver solutions that were both effective and discrete. We lowered the ceilings to hide steels and service routes for cabling which had the added benefit of adding atmosphere and intimacy.

The AV rack in the second bedroom is the hub of the AV control system. Computers, amplifiers, LED drivers and all controls are set within the AV cupboard. The system generates a lot of noise and heat so this required fresh air ventilation via a fan system to create air circulation as well as an acoustic kit fitted to minimize noise.

We sought advice from AV and M&E consultants and collaborated with these experts to achieve something out of the ordinary and cutting edge – pushing existing technology to serve the needs of the project.  For example, we installed a state of the art air-conditioning system that did not require an external condenser.

Photography by Christopher Horwood

What We Achieved For Our Clients

This apartment shows a complete transformation of the space to create a comfortable luxurious home, full of detail and interest. It’s a one off – bespoke in every sense of the word, designed to suit the taste and requirements of the client. The design solution is unusual – we did not follow the obvious retro 1960’s route in keeping with the period of the apartment. The client remembered the ’60’s the first time round, and he didn’t want to do it again!

Instead his dream was to bring to bear the latest in smart house technology whilst creating a metropolitan feel with an Edwardian and Art Deco twist. The apartment is an expression of what he likes and is unique to him, with custom storage design to suit his needs. Working directly to the client we were given free rein from start to finish. The project is therefore a test case in bespoke architectural joinery’s potential to transform a space. This was truly a joinery led interior design project.

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