Eastern promise: A pied à terre goes Oriental

When the owners of this petite London flat started to feel claustrophobic, there was only one man to call: Dan Hopwood, master of the art of turning a threadbare pied-à-terre into a spacious, elegant home

A property in London’s delightful Holland Park, with a roof terrace overlooking the tennis courts, is not something you’d give up lightly. So when Stuart and Hua Ferguson returned to the UK from a stint in Singapore, there was a heated debate. The flat had been Stuart’s student base, then a rental. From the outside, it still looked the part – grand, white-stuccoed, mid-Victorian. But inside it was tired and cramped.
Stuart and his brother had, with youthful enthusiasm, done some renovations themselves. Interior designer Dan Hopwood, who was in charge of the latest transformation, allows them some credit. “It was functional, a very good effort. But there were one or two questionable touches. The bathroom, for example, had one wall that was entirely mirrored. It ran in front of the loo.”
If the Fergusons were to keep the flat – and with that highly desirable outside space, plus the fact that London’s toniest addresses now command funny money, it made sense to do so – it was going to require the Hopwood treatment. Dan had already worked his magic on the splendid ballroom conversion that had been Stuart’s bachelor pad. Hua, who is Chinese, trusted him to turn the utilitarian rental into a luxe city bolt-hole, to be used by the Fergusons when they were in the capital, and other family and friends when passing through.
Dan, they knew, had the toolbox of tricks needed for the job. “I’m very much a central London designer,” he explains. “Flats here cost a packet and are tiny. I do a lot of pied-à-terres for people who don’t live in town. They’re used to big houses and are horrified by how little they get for their money.”
With 91sq m in the eaves of the building to play with, he set to work. The plan (there was nothing as formal as a brief – the Fergusons basically left Dan to get on with it) was to maximise the space, tailor the rooms to a family lifestyle that would include children at some point, then give it a touch of modern Chinese elegance.
Structurally, the main change was the removal of a wall. Replacing this with a glass balustrade immediately opened up the space. “It drags the hall into the living room. It means you have a full eye stretch from the entrance to the picture on the wall.” Extending the doorways to the ceiling improved the flow from room to room and gave the impression of height. Radiators are recessed in the walls so they are tucked out of the way and don’t take up any of the precious floor.

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 184-190, issue 91.

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Words Anna Burnside
Photography Matt Chung