Chiswick | London SW4

Moody and Minimalist Contemporary Refurbishment of an Edwardian House

This project was the redesign, rebuild and refurbishment of a residential home in west London. It was completely transformed from a 250 sqm Edwardian period terraced house into a four-storey 500 sqm modernistic home with acres of open plan living and a sleek contemporary finish.

Purple Design were engaged by the client as the interior designers on this project, working initially with the client’s architect who successfully gained the planning approvals for a new 250 sqm lower ground floor level and extensions and alterations.

Purple Design devised the overall concept for the interior refurbishment. A sleek ultra-contemporary design fitted throughout the house, amps up the desirability factor of this home, bringing the period property up to date.

Scope of Works

The works included the erection of a flat roof single storey rear extension and two single storey flat roof side infill extensions with motorised roof lights. Excavation of the lower ground including provision of a light well to the front, and another light well to the rear providing a link to the rear garden above. A large roof light was installed to the top floor landing to flood the upper floors with light. Internal alterations include a new kitchen, new bathrooms and guest wc’s, lighting design, full audio-visual package and a complete fit out of all the fixtures, fittings and furnishings.

Interior Architecture, Configuration of the Space

The major building project took two-and-a-half years. The first phase of the project involved the creation of the new 250 sqm lower ground floor level. Conversion of the basement took a year.

The vast lower ground floor was given an airy ceiling height of 3 meters and was fitted with light wells to maximise natural light below ground level. Full height crittal glazed doors lead into the kitchen, playroom and study rooms and a further set of full height crittal glazed doors lead outside to courtyards at the front and rear, adding light and drama to the space.

In the contemporary kitchen stands an enormous porcelain statuario marble kitchen island with lacquered wall cabinets. The kitchen is an open plan space for an informal family dining room with banquette seating built into a niche, and secret children’s work stations to either side.

There was plenty of space on the newly built lower ground level for the recreation facilities, a steam room and gym, a temperature-controlled walnut and glass wine cellar room, a playroom, a study and two guest cloakrooms were added to the home on this level.

Meanwhile major work was underway on the three upper storeys of the house. The first stage by the main building contractors was to remove all signs of the dated features of the Edwardian period, so the fireplaces, cornices, architraves, window cills and skirtings were taken out. The floors were removed, the remaining walls were stripped back to the brickwork, the roof was lifted off and the staircase carcase was ripped out, before work began on the renovation.

The ultra-modern staircase paving the way to the new lower level was built by our specialist joinery company and the stair opening encased in full height opti-glass panels set into the ceiling, with polished concrete treads and risers and a gunmetal travertine plaster finish to the walls, softened by a faux baby ostrich handrail. The installation was exacting with all the finishes separated by shadow gap detailing.

The contemporary oak staircase linking the ground floor with the upper floors has bespoke handcrafted ultra-fine patinated metal balusters and a cast handrail that was hand finished in a chemical patina. The stair treads are lit by evenly-spaced wall recessed lights.

The hallway on the ground floor was visually opened up with walls of full height crittal glazing in the hallway leading into the dining room.

The walls in the dining room were finished in a specialist bronze rose gold grassello plaster finish and the ceiling is wrapped in a polished plaster finish. The dining room furniture was kept to the minimum. A long dining table measuring 3.8-metres fills the length of the room; intriguing sculptural pedestals in polished bronze and patinated steel with a glass table top, with 16 sleek contemporary dining chairs made in patinated steel and upholstered in green leather.

Floating over the dining table the lighting feature is a series of milk globes and thin metal forms inhabiting the space with subtlety and quiet strength. A bespoke bronze leather and black lacquered entertaining cabinet contains the table and glassware as well as a dumb waiter.

Leading through the full height crittal doors into the enormous living space overlooking the elegant contemporary garden designed by Ruth Willmott Associates, where a 7-metre-long wall of bronze joinery hides a library, the audio-visual system and a 3.5-metre-long glass enclosed gas fire, is a central feature of the living space. The distressed herringbone timber flooring on the ground floor has a taupe-grey finish, with a bespoke silk moon rug on top.

The extra-long herringbone tweed sofas are flanked by a pair of circular patinated steel and shagreen side tables, and an oversized polished stainless-steel coffee table, are many of the pieces from Purple Designs Diva Collection. A large pendant light hangs sculpturally in the space, finished in distinctive hand-blown opal glass and hand waxed metal with brushed brass details.

Interior design and décor

All the furniture and furnishings were designed by Purple Design and made bespoke for the house with the expertise of fine craftsmanship, including the leather banquette in racing car green, which is built into a wall niche in the kitchen diner.

The beds are beautiful statement pieces of furniture that were designed bespoke for each bedroom. The master bedroom has a headboard and bed base upholstered in panels of darkest green mohair-velvet with the lighting controls built into the headboard. The guest bedroom has a glamorous faux-ostrich-leather studded bed in deepest inky blue against a backdrop of charcoal walls, ceiling and joinery and full height herringbone veneered doors with shadow gap detailing.

A boudoir dressing room reached via the bedroom, features a Murano glass pendant light fitting and window seat. Joinery skills were engaged to make smart bespoke wardrobes in quilted maple and leather, finished with bespoke leather handles and a linen interior.

The bedrooms are a restful palette of grey and charcoal toned with shades of midnight blue. Paintwork is pared down to one colour to cover the walls and ceilings, and woodwork, giving a seamless contemporary canvas for the furnishings.

A splash of colour is introduced in the children’s bedrooms on the upper floor under the eaves, with stripes and tropical birds’ wallpaper and playful metallic lacquered bespoke wardrobes and storage. The children’ beds have lacquered cut-outs in the headboards for favourite toys and bedtime story books.

The bathrooms are individually designed to match the other rooms on each floor. One of the guest bathrooms upstairs has subtly patterned iridescent ice-white Venetian porcelain tiles, the cloakroom features grey herringbone panels. The master en-suite bathroom is finished with a polished plaster feature wall and has Bardiglio marble slabs on the walls and floor, with a cantilevered marble vanity and basin.

The renovation and building extensions took two and a half years to complete to exceptionally high standard with a large part of the budget specified for the specialist finishes that add a backdrop for contemporary low-key luxury living. The house was renovated into a sleek, clean, contemporary family home with spacious open plan living areas. Rooms were reconfigured to simplify landings that were cluttered with doorways. Movement through the house was streamlined, with full height crittal glazing into each room on the lower ground level.

Purple Design’ specialists installed the bespoke staircases linking the levels, the herringbone parquet flooring on the ground floor, the marble bathrooms, the powder rooms, the joinery for the staircases, the joinery throughout including all the doors, and all the specialist wall and ceiling finishes.

If walls could talk, the surfaces are statement pieces of this house, specialist polished plaster wall and ceiling finishes exude an understated charisma, while the specially commissioned lighting features and contemporary orb pendants light up the monochrome palette of inky blues, charcoal, mid-tonal greys, with bronze finishes.

The specialist bronze rose gold grassello plaster finish in the dining room sets the scene for the dramatic decorative finishes through the house. The luxurious expert polished plaster wall finishes are used upstairs in the master ensuite and new living area on the lower ground floor was given polished concrete floors and walls. The guest bathroom on the lower ground floor is a scene of contemporary minimalism with polished concrete walls and ceiling.

This focus on specialist finishes and expert joinery, and beautifully made furniture designed bespoke for each room, is what Purple Design is best known for – and in this house we see this in the understated beauty of the quilted maple & leather wardrobes, the one-colour paint palette, the polished concrete for the contemporary kitchen and the sheer charisma of polished plaster walls with a bronze finish in the dining room.

We hired Orla because of her professional attitude, knowledge and clear proposal.  Working with Orla was enjoyable because she had a passion for exceeding our needs and finding just the finishes to create a bespoke look to our project.  Her work took our ideas and elevated them to a really elegant solution beyond what we could have imagined.  She presented ideas to us that we could never have thought of, had the boldness to consider nor had the time to find.  She is creative and inspirational but also had the strength of character and conviction to challenge us when she felt she needed to.  Her attention to detail, tenacity and follow through was much appreciated in a time when these are rare commodities and can be paid lip service.  Her network of suppliers delivered fantastic finishes and pieces for our home.  She was worth every penny we spent with her and we wouldn’t hesitate to hire her again or recommend her.  

R Willmott