Kitchens Bedrooms & Bathrooms

"Location work" feature

Article Article Article Article

From drab development to dream home, a riverside apartment in Wapping gets a redesign, mixing subtle minimalism with dramatic centrepieces.

It’s the stuff of dreams: a wrong turning down a back street led city trader Stuart Mayers and his wife, Ana, to their dream home. "I’d always wanted a place by the river," Says Stuart. "We were looking at Docklands when we got lost and stumbled across Wapping. We were so impressed by the size of the flat, compared with what we had been looking at, that we put a deposit down the same day."

The flat also looks like it could be on a film set. From the riverside location to the open-plan interior with built in aquarium on one wall, the place exudes glamour. Furnishings enhance the slick finish, with a Francis Bacon painting resplendent in the living room and a dramatic bed which creates a real centrepiece in the bedroom.

Bold and bang up to date, the pad is quite a contrast to the show home that the Myers started out with. "It was standard developers flat; nice but nothing special," recalls Stuart. With elaborate plans afoot for the new flat, however, they wanted the knowledge and expertise of an interior designer. "We spoke to a few people and found a local company called Detail."

Stuart and Ana gave designer Gordon Russell and his team a free rein. "My only brief was to create a space which functions well for a couple, is light, airy and a bit of fun," says Gordon. He focused on ergonomics and space.

The main bedroom benefits from a luxurious en-suite bathroom, although Stuart admits they prefer to use the nearest guest bathroom when they are rushing around in the morning, as jumping into its large, glass-enclosed shower is quicker than running a bath. Beige limestone, Starck sanitary ware and simple mirrored cabinets create a feeling of calm and order.

Next door, the main bedroom measures a generous 6.4 X 4.7m. The light cream tones of the walls and the deep, soft carpet further exaggerate the sense of space and serve as a neutral backdrop to the rooms’ focus: an illuminated bed with a large cowhide headboard slotted into the recess space of the original fitted wardrobes.

Clothes storage has now been relocated to the far end of the bedroom, taking up the entire length of the wall. Gordon chose wardrobe doors in exotic macassar ebony, attracted by the woods’ unusual appearance and the fact that its’ dark hues contrast to the pale colour scheme elsewhere in the bedroom. To make sure nothing detracted from the flat planes of strong striped wood, he introduced a discreet, kick-plate opening system at the bottom of the doors, making handles redundant.

The kitchen has a similar minima appeal, though here the units open by means of subtle metal pull-tags. The traditional shaker kitchen was ditched in favour of high-gloss, sky blue cabinets. Gordon was amazed at the clients’ lack of resistance to his eye-catching suggestion. He recalls, "at first they looked at each other askance, but then said ‘if you like it, go for it.’ "The couple held their ground when it came to practicalities, however, insisting on corian worktops for ease of maintenance. "We were looking at terrazzo, but corian is very durable and easily shaped. The good thing it’s quite thick, it looks better," says Stuart.

By removing the wall between the kitchen and the sitting room, a contemporary loft-style effect has been achieved, with the only demarcation being the change from wood floor in the living area to limestone in the kitchen. The stone flooring echoes the expanses of limestone in the bathrooms, suggesting a continuity that adds cohesion to the whole design.