This two bedroom apartment in the heart of the City of London is, says Historic England, an “unusual example in Britain of the German Expressionist style” and was Grade II listed in 1990. It is also a blend of Art Deco architecture and Moroccan style interiors. But before you panic that there’s a lot going on remember that colour can be changed and it’s about how you choose to add character to your own places and spaces.
It’s on the market with Inigo for £610,000 and, in addition to its City location, has a two bathrooms and a large open plan living dining area. It’s on the fifth floor so the views are also amazing. If, like me, you are unfamiliar with German Expressionism in architecture you can read more about that here. Built in 1932 as the London Headquarters of the Co-operative Wholesale Society, it was designed by Leonard Grey Elkins, inspired by time he spent in Germany and Belgium.
Now you might feel that adding Moroccan influences to the interior design is a leap but the external architecture includes cement that has been carved out to look like stone with Egyptian motifs above the doorways – both styles use similar Moorish style elements and colours. So, with a rough context in place, who fancies a look?
So starting in the sitting room and you can see how this space not only draws the eye to the view but the warm colours and jewel-like furnishings immediately bring more personality to a space that doesn’t really have any distinguishing characteristics. It now feels warm and cosy and, crucially, like it has something to say. Strip out the colours (and remember you can choose different ones) and it would revert to a white box.
The kitchen is small but if your kitchen is also in a corner of a room you can hide the working parts by building a wall around it like this and creating an internal window in any style you like. I rather love how this echoes the arch of the door to the hallway although I would have painted the plug socket.
Below is where to start to get a sense of the layers building and of views beyond views.
The colour scheme changes abruptly in this room from warm jewel tones to a more calming shade of soft blue green (try Little Greene aquamarine) with yellow accents – check out the door frame. And this brings us onto the key consideration when it comes to choosing your palette.
If we assume that picking colours you like is a given, the most important thing to think about is how your favourite colours make you feel. We know that in classic colour psychology green and blue are said to be calming and therefore good for bedrooms but the exact shades will be down to your personal preference and reactions. Sometimes a reaction is instinctive and there’s nothing you can do to fight it.
So you may feel that emerald green isn’t restful but, in your case, energising, in which case you don’t want it in a bedroom. I never have blue in my decor and, a professor of colour at Leeds pointed out to me a couple of years ago, I’m a rubbish swimmer and don’t really like the water so perhaps it’s not as random as I might have thought. However my engagement ring is an aquamarine which reminds me of the sea in Italy as seen from a beach! I love dark foresty greens and find them restful but am, for reasons I have never fathomed, not a lover of sage green.
If you aren’t sure about your colours and corresponding moods then take a bit of time on Pinterest, or looking at these rooms for example and try and tune out the furniture if it’s not your style, or the wallpaper and focus instead on the colours. Imagine sitting in that room and take note of how it might make you feel. Would you feel relaxed and calm, cocooned and cosy, ready for a party or a row? And finally remember – there’s no such thing as the wrong colour only the wrong shade. So if that orange makes you want to shout, imagine taking it back to a paler version and perhaps it might make you feel conversational.
Above the bedroom is blue and green, which I seem to remember mentioning is a combination that is about to be super fashionable – in whatever shades you choose. But leaving the colours let’s discuss the ceiling light. Big lights, as they are often called, tend to hang in the middle of the room. In this case that would be right over the middle of the bed and if the ceiling isn’t very high it will be in the way. In larger rooms they are often pointing at the floor at the end of the bed – lighting basically nothing.
If space is tight then move it to a corner where it will still light the room but it won’t be in the way. And, in this case, the sculptural shape of the shade creates an interesting silhouette against the window and draws the eye to it and the view beyond. Its shape is also echoed in the wallpaper under the window.
The bathroom above takes the blue and yellow from the bedroom and uses it in a different way so the colour schemes are linked but not copied. The bathroom below uses more wood and is – to me at least, a very calming space. The colours are neutral but natural wood has been proven to lower your heart rate and reduce stress which is why these deep Japanese baths are so popular.
In addition, the yellow bathroom has built in speakers and chromatherapy lighting so you can adjust the settings to create a more spa-like feel. And if you saw how many press releases I am currently getting about the wellness/spa at home trend, then this feels not only of the moment but practically essential!
Just in case you are buying this one then there’s the lift. I once lived in a six floor apartment with no lift and a tiny square bath so this has a familiar feel to me. This is a lovely entrance to come in to although bear in mind this is leasehold and your service charge is £2,800 a year and part of the reason you can have a lovely entrance.
So colour lesson done. Let’s hear about how different colours make you feel in the comments below. I will tell you that once when we were recording the podcast in Sophie’s old rental flat (since sold) that she had just redecorated in vibrant shades of emerald and purple, floral and leopard I was in a fury the entire time. It wasn’t until we hit the grey rain-soaked streets of Brighton in search of coffee that I exhaled and understood for the first time that strong colours aren’t for me. It makes me tense. Give me tonal maximalism every time. Sophie, on the other hand, feels her life force ebbing away in shades of grey and brown and relishes the energy she receives from more vibrant colours. No-one and nothing is wrong just make sure you take the time to work out what is best for you.