As many of you know, and some of you have experienced, when I’m not writing for the blog or for my book, I run a business helping people style and decorate their homes. It’s a job I enjoy enormously as it gives me enormous satisfaction to bring together what people want and need in a way that tells their story, so their house can truly reflect the people who live there. In short it becomes a home.
Last summer I received an email from a former client, whose bedroom and en suite I had helped with, telling me that she had changed jobs and was now working for a company that was developing 80 acres of land around Wembley Stadium. They had done several show flats but they had one left and they wanted something different. Would I, she asked, be prepared to, come and give it the Mad About The House treatment?
Well I thought about this for approximately one tenth of a nano-second. Free rein? A blank page? My fantasy decorating space? Would I heck! I replied, after a suitably languid 60 second pause, saying that yes I would be very interested in that as a project.
A few weeks later I donned high viz jacket, builder’s boots and a hard hat (which was all quite exciting in itself) and went for my first tour of this, as yet, incomplete building. The three bedroom flat is on the 15th floor and while the lift was working there were no control panels in it so we had to get in, shout into the void which floor we wanted and then somehow we rose. I’m not sure there wasn’t a small army of people in the basement heaving us up there.
Anyway, the basic outline was done, which meant there were things that couldn’t be changed, such as radiators, cupboards, kitchens and bathrooms. But in a way that was good because that is the reality for many of us when we move into a new home, so it’s good to see how to work around immoveable objects.
The first thing to note is that the flat is, of course, modern. The ceilings aren’t terribly high and there aren’t any interesting architectural details to work around. Someone asked in the comments the other day what to do about modern homes that are essentially a series of white boxes and I’m hoping this will help.
The floors are good – dark herringbone wood and the kitchen worktops are all marble, as are the bathrooms. So there were great elements to work with. But how to add character when you can’t install a fabulous pendant light? Or any lights come to that? When you haven’t got quirky angles or features to work around?
Well hopefully the pictures will give you an idea of how I went about it. The hall is a corridor with lots of doors leading off it and it opens out into the large living space, which comprises a kitchen, dining area and living room. We painted the walls to about shoulder height all the way along that space to tie the whole space together but add character at the same time.
I am often asked if you can use dark paint in modern flats and I see no reason why not. But if you are worried about low ceilings then do half of it. This will also hide the telly – although there isn’t one in this flat as yet.
The next thing was to zone the space and, as it’s a huge room, we were able to put a sofa across the middle with its back to the eating/cooking areas. Sitting this on a large rug also helped to zone the space. This sofa is the Earl Grey from Love Your Home and the detail on the back makes it perfect for open-plan living. It also comes as a traditional two or three seater if you don’t have room for a corner sofa.
The rug was key to creating the different areas – buy the biggest you can afford and make sure as much of the sofa as possible is on it.
When it came to the bedrooms we needed to really make an impact in a small space. Modern bedrooms are often not very big and while these all have built-in wardrobes, there wasn’t a lot of room to spare.
The first bedroom was nearest to the living room so we continued the gold and navy theme in there. I wanted to use wallpaper as a good way of creating maximum impact. We did all four walls and painted the radiator, skirtings and back of the door in matching navy to bring it all together. The gold lovers chairs from Rockett St George completed this room, which was already carpeted.
The next bedroom, a single, we imagined for a child but kept it neutral with Pigeon, by Farrow & Ball, which is a gorgeous greeny/grey that looks good with white and we added a splash of orange to make it all stand out. It would also work really well as an office and the decor wouldn’t need changing for that.
Finally, the master suite. I didn’t want to use wallpaper again so decided to do something different. The ceiling, radiator, architraves and skirting boards we painted all in the same colour – Brinjal by Farrow & Ball – to try and do something more unusual while still adding character.
Now the nitty gritty. Yes you can buy this flat – it’s a three bedroom penthouse and it’s on for £990,000. If you want to go and have a look you can email [email protected] or ring 0203 2192250. It’s not on the website at the moment but you can find out more about the area and what is available to buy and rent here wembleyparkresidential.
This flat, which is in the Alto Pienna building, practically overlooks the stadium and has a large balcony facing it. All the flats in the building have their own private outside space and there is also a private water garden, lounge business centre, private art gallery, spa and gym. There is a two bed, two bath apartment available for £572,000.
I wasn’t particularly familiar with the area before I started visiting this flat – I think the last time I was there was in about 1987 to see U2 headline supported by The Pretenders (I went for the latter) so it’s fair to say it has changed a little since then. However, I each time I went there were more cafes and shops. There is a talk of a sort of farmers’ market area nearby and, of course, the stadium. It’s rather more of a destination than I had thought.
If you have questions about the decor and what I did then stick ’em in the comments and I’ll see if we need to do a follow-up post.
All images are by Megan Taylor please credit if you pin.