The house A 19th-century double-fronted stucco property set in the heart of Kensington. The eight-bedroom house was split into six flats when purchased by the current owners who commissioned interior designer Joanna Wood to adapt the space back into a luxury family home. The basement was excavated to encompass a home spa, gym, pool and staff accommodation as well as a cinema room, while the upstairs holds the extensive master suite.
The master bedroom Taking up most of the first floor, the owner’s suite was designed to be a retreat from a house ideal for entertaining. As well as a sleeping space, the bedroom comprises its own living area with an open fire, two dressing rooms and two bathrooms. Audio-visual technology was an important factor when creating the suite, and a number of practical measures were used to ensure essential elements were hidden.
Words Gabriella Bennett
When money is no object and the whole of a property can be reconfigured to suit a new owner’s every whim, for some it’s just too much.
The space in itself can become as much of a burden as it is a beauty, with too much freedom, too many possibilities and not enough focus. Interior designer Joanna Wood was faced with the prospect of a very simple brief when working alongside the team of architects for this Kensington mansion – to radically convert it from six individual flats into one supersized family home.
The 17,000 square feet of empty space could have daunted the most experienced of experts, not least as the client stipulated that comfort must be of paramount importance within the space. In particular, the master bedroom (taking up most of the property’s spacious first floor) had to incorporate the latest audio-visual technology installed to the highest specifications but also remain a soothing area for sleeping and relaxing. Perhaps the brief was not as easy as originally thought.
Dividing the space to create specific areas for sleeping, dressing and bathing makes an extremely large space feel more restful and livable
Joanna and her team of three designers set to work creating a ‘private sanctuary’ to which the client and his partner could retreat. The key was to create a ‘his and hers’ suite with distinct zones and characteristics made possible through fabrics and finishes. The bedroom in essence would, in one space, take on all the rooms of a house – albeit on a miniature but luxe level.
With this in mind, a well thought out area at the foot of the suite serving as a small scale lounge was conceived with two bespoke chairs designed by Joanna flanking an open fire. Two dressing rooms and bathrooms (one each, naturally) let the couple taper these areas to their own personal needs with plenty of storage space for clothes and products.
Bearing in mind the need for high-tech gadgets, Joanna ensured that each of the en-suite bathrooms included a TV concealed behind the main mirror. In the bedroom itself, however, concealing the mechanics of hotel-level technology posed more of a challenge to the team. The ottoman at the foot of the bed, upholstered in elegant cream and gold, was designed to hide a large flat screen television which, when elevated, can be rotated to be seen from anywhere in the room. Behind the bed lies a wall (covered in Métaphores’ lilac Mercure fabric) with dual purpose – the strips running vertically behind the headboard work both as decoration and to cover essential electricity points.
The staff accommodation is located in the basement of the property, so it was important to devise a way to send refreshments up in the most efficient way. A dumbwaiter, located in the dressing room, allows a dry Martini to be delivered from the kitchen with its ice cubes still intact on the point of arrival, and without the need for manpower.
Curtains in GP & J Baker’s neutral Minerva fabric act as a foil to the room’s overtly feminine purple hue while the silver bedside tables and dressing table lend an elegant air. There’s little doubt that all the tricks in the proverbial book have been called upon to marry function and style for this project, but with a dash of imagination and a good set of problem-solving skills, it appears that having both is just about possible.
• Bespoke piece designed by Joanna Trading, £1500
• Blob lamp in Amethyst, base from £1111, shade from £157, Porta Romana
• Minerva Cream fabric, GP & J Baker
• Two Benham floor lamps, Heathfield
• Available to order from Joanna Wood, £500
• Bespoke piece designed by Joanna Wood, £1000
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Images: From top, Dressed in cashmere and fur with silk bolster cushions, the bed was intended to serve as the main focus point of the room while three large windows allow the benefit of optimum light. Below, Planning drawings show the bedroom is easily accessed from all areas leading from it. Below, An open fire in the small living area helps the space become a private, cosy nook in which to unwind from the outside world. Standard lamps with 14inch shades provide the finishing touches to accompany late-night reading.