Interior designer Anne-Marie Taylor and husband David, had been in their Putney property for about eight years and, self-confessed change junkies, felt it was time to move on. Looking around they realised that the cost of moving would be so great that they would hardly have any budget left to decorate their new home. Instead they decided to invest their savings in totally redesigning their existing property so that it felt as if they had moved.
The starting point for the project was to reconfigure the downstairs space opening up the back of the house to improve the access to the garden and allow more light in. The room was sound proofed to reduce the level of noise through the semi-detached walls. Inspired by The Hoxton Hotel in Amsterdam, Anne-Marie and David determined to create a “contemporary chic, vibrant and warm” open plan living room with a touch of France to reflect Anne-Marie’s heritage. Choosing mid-century design pieces, the vibrant colour scheme evolved from their favourite possessions, the artwork above the table and the orange leather arm-chairs, combined with the Knoll chairs Anne-Marie had found early in the process.
The focal point, an elegant Julian Chichester dining table, sits on the French style chevron parquet which flows from the front door to the garden, kept toasty warm with underfloor heating. “Don’t try to buy flooring on the cheap” says Anne-Marie “we found what we thought was a brilliant supplier in Manchester but the wood never arrived and it took a long time to get our money back.” In the end they used The Natural Wood Floor Company in Wandsworth who helped Anne-Marie to source the exact wider specification that suited the proportion of the room. She spotted the Moooi light in one of her favourite design shops in Islington (twentytwentyone) a great place for contemporary furniture but they also have it in Holloways of Ludlow (now open in Wimbledon Village)
The look and feel for the kitchen began with the innovative Neolith surface that Anne-Marie first saw in Poggenpohl and has the aesthetic of marble but is manmade to be almost totally indestructible. The kitchen, eventually chosen from Roundhouse, was great fun to design, with automatic touch-button closing doors, orange lined secret cupboard interiors and textured walnut as well as painted wood and tiles (a bargain find). The storage space was designed in detail in advance so that everything has it’s place.
Anne-Marie asked Virginie of Splash of Light for help with the lighting and was really appreciative of her advice, with a number of small changes to the lighting plan making a big difference. For example, Virginie advised adding small spotlights above the pendants in the kitchen as alone they don’t give out enough general light, but look fabulous for mood lighting at night.
Carefully considered bespoke furniture is evident throughout the house. Back in the living space, working with cabinet-maker Julian Giles and carpenter Richard Emmerson, Anne-Marie designed bespoke shelves and cupboards with individual detailing to suit her possessions and style. The TV cupboard is hidden inside doors designed to look like a Barnett Newman painting above the flueless (bio-ethanol) fire. Having invested so much in designer pieces they had wanted for so long, Anne-Marie and David were more cautious with their sofas selecting good value items from Camerich, which despite their price point are very comfortable.
The next part of the project was the garden. They had had an old garage, garden shed and trampoline but now that the interior was being re-configured to reduce the number of bedrooms with a larger master bedroom and ensuite, Anne-Marie and David decided to create an outdoor room for David’s office and design a beautiful, contemporary garden, landscaped by the talented Tom Howard, in-keeping with the house inside.
It is possible to buy a garden room for about £20 000 if you choose a smaller room and do a lot of the work yourself. In this case the garden room includes a kitchenette and shower room, under floor heating and sliding doors and so required all the services being taken through to the back of the garden and therefore in total cost approximately £70,000 including VAT.
The same level of care and detailing was given to the interior of the garden room as to the interior of the rest of the house. Initially David’s desk was placed facing the garden, but Anne-Marie a believer in feng shui and the importance of considering the energy of a space was concerned about the positioning between two windows. It is hard to define what was wrong with this placement but David never quite settled and business was slow until the desk was moved to it’s current position at the end of the room, and suddenly everything changed the energy lifted and the business flowed in again.
Moving on to the separate living room at the front of the house, Anne-Marie and David wanted to create a “cozy Scandinavian” concept for this room that would mainly be used by the family in the evenings. Most of the budget was used in the rest of the house and so little was changed here apart from sanding the floors and changing the colour scheme. The cupboards were existing, they just changed the doors and because there is a sub-woofer inside Anne-Marie chose a fabric that was in-keeping with the scheme and would allow the sound through.
The chair is from skandium and the sofa, already in existence, originally purchased from Loung-In (a fabulous company in Battersea who create bespoke sofas at great prices) was recovered by The Elliott Chair Company (now based in Wiltshire) to suit the scheme the room (Paint colour: Little Green Hicks Blue)
Art is very important to Anne-Marie and David and they have collected favourite pieces over time, but here they turned to Art Finder to help them “you can choose art by size, colour and style and return them if you are not happy” says Anne-Marie.
The hall cabinet was designed by Anne-Marie previously because she couldn’t find what she liked – using LED coloured lighting, something she is very keen on and integrated into the niches in the garden room also.
The downstairs bathroom introduces the patterned tiles that are a nod both to Anne-Marie’s Lebanese heritage and the Edwardian tiles that would have originally existed in the house. The splash back is simple a couple of tiles with a border – an economical and stylish solution.
The luxurious styling of the upstairs bedrooms begins with the feel underfoot. Anne-Marie chose gloriously soft carpeting throughout “the secret is in the underlay” she says “investing in a good quality underlay makes all the difference to the feel of the carpet and it will last.” The oversized headboards stretch across the width of the bed, to the floor and neatly house the reading lights and create a backdrop for the bedside tables – also made by Richard Emmerson.
The full width wardrobes offer the double advantage of fantastic storage as well as additional sound-proofing as this is an attached wall. “I wanted fabric on the wardrobe doors” says Anne-Marie. “But fabric would have gathered dust and so I found this laminate material, XyloCleaf, that looks like fabric and reflects the electric light.”
There is so much fabric in the softness of the carpets, headboards and bedding that it didn’t seem necessary to have curtains too. The shutters are fitted with special black-out blinds, which come as a complete unit, providing total darkness for a good night’s sleep.
The brief for the bedroom and en-suite was “boutique hotel”. The most important thing to Anne-Marie was to design a bathroom that had enough space for a luxurious bath, shower, double basins and door to give privacy on the loo.
The photo is by an Iranian French artist originally purchased for their flat in Paris which had double height ceilings and never quite fitted in this house until now. It is as though this space was made for it.
Interior Design: Anne-Marie Taylor (anne-marietaylor.com)
Builders: 4c (4cdevelopments.co.uk)
Kitchen Company: Roundhouse Design (roundhousedesign.com)
Dining Table: Julian Chichester (julianchichester.com)
Dining Chairs: Knoll (knoll.com)
Dining Room Light: Moooi (moooi.com)
Side Tables: Terrance Woodgate (terrancewoodgate.com)
Bespoke Furniture: Julien Giles (julienaustingiles.com)
Sofas: Camerich (camerich.co.uk)
Art: Art Finder (artfinder.com)
Lighting Design: Splash of Light (splash-of-light.co.uk)
Parquet Flooring: The Natural Wood Floor Company (naturalwoodfloor.co.uk)
Flooring Fitters: AD Flooring (adflooring.co.uk)
Garden Room: Rooms Outdoor (roomsoutdoor.co.uk)
Garden Design: Tom Howard (tomhowardgardens.co.uk)
Rugs: Heals (heals.com)
Bespoke Sofa: Loungin (loungin.co.uk)
Tiles: WF Tiles, Lower Richmond Road, Putney.
Carpet: Mr Carpet (mr-carpet.co.uk)
Bedroom Chair: Skandium (skandium.com)
Shutters: Plantation Shutters (plantation-shutters.co.uk)