All posts by Studio 29

Making the most of natural light in a full refurbishment

As every make up make-up artist knows, the secret of a good makeover is enhancing the best feature of one’s face, not trying to hide the bad.

We applied this concept when designing this flat in Chelsea: it is not big, it has oddly shaped rooms, but has the best West facing aspect and gets plenty of natural light through the day.

We selected materials that reflect, filter and play with light. The result is an interior which changes every hour of the day and never stops to amaze and delight its inhabitants.

For the window dressing – all by Pat Giddens, we chose simple unlined blinds in sheer fabric with a slight metallic sheen: they do not block the view, but filter the light  – London light can be very cold in the winter – and beautify it. Very much like a good foundation, if we want to keep the make-up metaphor going!

We have sheer curtains also in the bedroom: a good night sleep is guaranteed by very discreet black-out roller blinds.

We use brass for the kitchen island – to trick the light, again, and give it a sunny hue even during a very grey February morning and reflective artificial marble for the splash-back and top. One can see the landscape reflected in the splash-back while having breakfast with the back to the window. (Kitchen by Espresso Design).

The same trick is used in the corridor: a multi-faceted mirror reflects and de-construct the view out of the bay window of the sitting room and provides a touch of surprise.


Photo-shoot in Chelsea: mimosa & Tuareg mats

Last week we shot a flat completed a few months ago, in Chelsea.

Photo-shooting days start always very early at Studio 29. There is a lot to do before the photographer can start, and the hours of light are never enough. This is especially true when shooting in winter, in London.

We started collecting all the props we have planned to take with us. We know from experience that every house can do with a little bit of styling.

This time we brought with us some antique linen, small white accessories that we knew would work on the dark background of walls and joinery and a few African artefacts to add texture.

Recently we have discovered the beauty of traditional straw and leather Tuareg mats, and we brought a couple of them with us. To top it all we added a huge bunch of seasonal mimosa from our favourite plant nursery, Rassells of Kensington.

We left the office in the pouring rain, praying that the weather would give us some respite in the afternoon.  The flat faces West, and in a clear day,  by 4 o’clock the golden light of the setting sun would flood it. We crossed our fingers!

At the flat we met with James, who does all our pictures. We have been working together for a long time and he loves design, so we understand each other well.

Nevertheless, creating pictures is always hard work. We want to show the space, rely the plays of light and,most important, we want the mix of colours, textures and materials of our photographs to be true. By the end of the day we were all pretty tired (but happy!).

Here a few images of the work in progress: we are looking forward to see the final images!

New Project: a barn & cottage in Norfolk

salt marshes in Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk

Our lovely clients of the colourful house in Holland Park have come back to us with a new exciting project. The location: Norfolk, a county that we did not know, but we are quickly falling in love with. The building: a flint and timber barn with annexed guest cottage in Brancaster Staithe. The brief: to refurbishing it and fitting it out, to be the couple’s coastal retreat.

The house has uninterrupted views on the salt marshes to the North and a secluded and sunny garden to the South.

view on the salt marshes, Brancaster Staithe

Both barn and cottage originally belonged the adjacent grand Georgian house. The barn was used to receive and store grains and coal for the local brewery. It was then converted – very cleverly – in to a house in 1971 and not touched ever since.

Our clients fell in love with the big spaces, the almost brutalist 70’s additions and the perfect North-South aspect. The latter gives the house a double personality.

The North side speaks to us of the atmospheres of the North Sea, with its mercantile past and connection with the Baltic and Hanseatic ports. The South side is all about the comfort and colours of the classic English garden plus the thrill of extra-large and tall rooms with glass ceilings and doors and stone walls.

We are working on the design to re-organise the space and express and combine the house’s opposite aspects and we will be sharing our progress on the blog. Stay tuned!

Brancaster beach, Norfolk

How to: make sense of decorating a whole house

Our project in Kensington is proceeding at very good speed and is now the time to fine-tune the decoration scheme.  This stage is always quite daunting for our clients, but we are here to help. The best way forward is approach the job step by step.

Step 1: is to reflect on the brief and understand the challenges.

The brief in this case is deceptively simple. The client likes neutrals – with a preference for cold greys – and she wants a modern, welcoming interior. The floor has been already chosen: a pale grey continental oak by Ebony and Co. It will be laid as parquet tiles on the main floors and as wide floorboards on the basement and bedrooms. The amazing Sabrina at Ebony customised it for us and even gave it a name: Faded Silvergrey Glossy (Poly)!

The challenge is to put together a scheme that is not bland and feels warm and elegant.  Every room must have a special atmosphere but the house has to feel homogeneous in style.

Step 2: using the right tools for the job.

Decoration is a hands-on process. We do not rely on drawings – as with do when designing layout and spaces – but on the real materials. Paint sample pots, swatches of fabric, small pieces of floors and objects like handles and switches.

We use mood boards as working tools, to check that all the materials we choose for a room work together. It is never about the beauty of a single piece – even though some time a favourite can be the starting point of a project– but how every piece works with the rest.

Step 3: putting together the team.

In this case a “team” of trusted brand we use over and over and we know we can rely on.

As all aspects of the décor must work together we chose brands that have a similar style and will be at ease side to side. For this house, we found natural to use Farrow & Ball paint (heavy pigmented and complex, therefore great to give body and depth to neutrals), De Le Cuona fabrics (a great choice of neutrals, interesting textures and finishes, clever ways to play with yarn and weave sizes for a sophisticated and modern approach to textiles) and Tabu veneers (their attention to trends and their way with wood grain, finishes and colours is superb). The extravagant touch in this case is the De Gournay hand painted silk wall paper: a favourite of our client and a great way rock the boat of such an understated elegant scheme.

We will be working on the colour scheme for ceiling walls and woodwork, on the window dressing (24 windows!) and on the furniture and decorative lighting layout.

Stay tuned as we will be posting about every aspect with information on our method of work and tips.

Other related posts:

Onsite: progress of a full refurbishment to a Kensington town house, black flowers included

Final touches: a basement re-design in Brook Green

So many times we live in spaces that do not suit us and we do not know how to start the change.

Our clients had been living in this house for a few years and never manage to like their basement. The kitchen was large but plain, the garden view was interrupted by the frames of the concertina doors, the dining table seemed to float in the space without anchoring and a seldom used full size ping-pong table filled one third of the plan.

After our first meeting we assessed the clients’ priorities: they love entertaining and always start their gatherings with drinks to then have full seated dinner.

We started the design with the kitchen. An oversized island doubles as bar for the guests to have drinks while the host finishes cooking. The kitchen wow factor is provided by a copper worktop, lit by a couple of Tom Dixon’s glass pendants (for atmosphere) and a technical spotlight (for the cook).

After drinks the guests move to the dinner table. This area is very cosy, with lowered ceilings (to hide a couple of ugly down-stands) walls modern panelling hiding storage and the staircase and a chandelier formed by translucent porcelain disks provides warm indirect light to the table top.

After dinner the conversation continues on the coral sofa by Habitat in front of the fireplace which has a cantilevered concrete hearth doubling as extra seat and shelf.

Fineline sliding doors frame the garden and are opened in the summer to connect the inside and the patio, both tiled in Jumble tiles by Domus.

Now the basement is our clients’ and their friends favourite floor of the house.

Final touches: a top floor mansion-block flat in Chelsea

The completion of a project is always a very satisfying moment for all of us.

Yesterday we worked at the final touches to a flat that we have completely re-designed and fitted for a client.

Once the furniture, just arrived from Chaplin’s, was positioned and Pat’s team hung the sheer blinds, the vision we have been nurturing for months – with drawings, mood-boards, meeting and the occasional headache – finally came to life!

With uninterrupted views towards South-West, this flat gets the best sunset light. We chose sheer metallic fabric for the simple blinds and blond oak parquet floor by TuttoParquet to set the background. A striking brushed brass cladding for the kitchen island by Espresso Design enhances the natural golden light.

On the corridor wall facing the sitting room’s bay window we installed a multifaceted geometric mirror  – Mirallmar by BD Barcelona. It multiplies the light and reflects a de-constructed image of the space.

Few carefully chosen pieces furnish the rooms, all selected among the modern classics of Italian big firms. A Flexform sofa is covered in a gold speckled black and cream boucle wool (very Chanel!), smoky glass wall lights by Oluce line the corridor and a tan, low profile leather bed by B&B Italia takes centre stage in the bedroom as side tables, wardrobes and shelving are all built-in and decorated to match the walls.

This flat deserves a dedicated photo-shooting … we will organise it very soon.

On Site: a town house full refurbishment in Kensington

We are very pleased with the progress of our job in Kensington.

The contractor has completed the rear extension and now the full size of the new basement can be appreciated: it is going to be such a generous space with the TV room at the front, the spacious staircase lobby and at the rear a giant kitchen and dining room for twelve looking on to the terraced garden!

A few images showing the progress of the works – starting from the top – :

Water underfloor heating being laid on the new basement slab.

New plasterboard partitions and original lath and plaster walls during restoration.

New opening between the master bathroom and the dressing room to allow natural light to filter in.

Forming a niche in the new dining room.

The dining room skylights in place.

Farrow & Ball wall paper and colour samples for the dressing room.

Soon will be time for the Ebony&Co parquet flooring to be fitted and the walls to be skimmed and then the magical transition from building site to house will start with all the fun of finalising colours, curtains and furniture layouts! We can’t wait.

House extension in Queens Park: new family dining room

The owners of this property in Queen’s Park asked us to add a house extension to enlarge the existing open space kitchen.

The brief called for a big dining area off the kitchen for family weekend meals and parties. They also asked us for lots of natural lights and openings to look on to their beautiful garden they personally design and care for, but they specified they absolutely did not want a “glass box”.

The materials of the new house extension mimics the ones of the original house, with reclaimed brick walls and timber French doors, while the design is a very simple pitched gable, in perfect axis with the very graceful and symmetric rear elevation of the house.

Brick details frame the pitched roof wall and a round window adds a touch of quirk and an eye to the sky.

Inside the walls are painted a light terracotta shade to reflect the clients’ love of colour.

Glass hand made pendants by Album hung at random lengths and add interest, creating an intimate light over the big dining table that fulfils the client’s brief “no unflattering down-lighters above my head when I am entertaining!”.


Completed apartment refurbishment in Little Venice

We have just completed the refurbishment of a flat in Maida Vale and we are very happy with the result!

The flat is a beautiful maisonette in the heart of Little Venice with views on a glorious communal garden and it is going to be used by our clients who live in the country as their pied-a-terre in London.

We have completely re-designed the space and we have added an en-suite bedroom under the front pavement at basement level.

For a full description of the project, see:

Thanks to all involved in the works of this refurbishment:

For the construction phase: Dunedin Construction (main contractor), Tony Guerguis at Davis Brown for the party wall matters and Structure Haus (structural engineer).

For the finishes and fittings : Fabiela at Tuttoparquet for the dark oak board flooring in the basement and Andy Bendell at AJB flooring for the parquet on the ground floor. Molteni & Dada for the kitchen.

For the interior design: Roast Designs for the glass chandeliers. Neville Stephens for the fireplace creation. Gavin Codd of ECSAV for the lighting solutions.  Pat Giddens for the window dressing.

Yvonna at Flow gallery and Bryan Reeves at Tribal gatherings for the ornamental pieces and art. Thanks to James Tarry and Edward Fury for the photographs and lighting respectively.

Views of the  main living space showing the central kitchen and the sitting and dining area by the tall sash windows.

Note the Lumix marble illuminated splashback, the mid-century originals table,  dining and armchairs and the bespoke glass chandelier.