Pale and interesting: linen from Holland & Sherry (£56.25 a metre; hollandandsherry.co.uk; 020 7352 4798) lines the walls in the living room, with a white leather sofa fom Knoll (£10,000 at knoll-int.com; 020 7236 6655) and other custom-made furniture flanking the mirrored chimney breast (similar conversions would cost about £8,000)
This flat — stylish and compact in equal measure — is tucked away in a typical Notting Hill stucco house, anonymous on the outside but filled with light and character inside, despite its diminutive proportions.
The owner, Arthur Bastings, chose interior designer Rients Bruinsma to help him transform the flat into a home that makes the most of the available space but is also ready for entertaining.
Left, plain and simple: Bruinsma found a Scottish tweed at £56.25 a metre from Holland & Sherry (as before) which has been used to cover the walls and the cabinets in the bedroom. A headboard was designed by Bruinsma to fit around the stylishly sleek Charles bed from B&B Italia (£3,900 in white leather at bebitalia.com; 020 759 18111).
Right, divide and rule: an island creates a useful division between the kitchen and living spaces. With entertaining in mind, Bruinsma has managed to squeeze in two undercounter fridges beneath the Thassos marble countertop (£4,000). The kitchen cost about £22,000 (cabinetry £7,000, splashback £1,500, appliances (mostly Miele), sink and taps £4,000, and design £5,000
Rather than being restrictive, commissions like these are challenges that most interior designers relish and Bruinsma has deployed several clever design ideas. Mirrored surfaces, and in particular the mirror on the chimney breast, not only make the room seem bigger but also bounce light around the space, as do most reflective surfaces, doing away with gloomy corners.
The dark-stained oak floors are important to the whole: "A dark floor gives a room a solid base," Bruinsma points out, "while light-coloured rugs [custom-made from the Rug Company] can emphasise different areas in a single room — the dark floor acts as a picture frame."
Bruinsma and his client worked closely together throughout the three phases of the project. "It was very important to create the right space in the flat," acknowledges Bastings. "Rients came up with a fantastic idea to fashion a mid-century fireplace that incorporates a mirror which has added a lot of light and optical space. He also increased significantly the height of the doors, again to create the sense of space, and added dark wooden floors to create a bit of drama." Bastings is quick to praise Bruinsma's professional focus. "He is a master of detail and cleaned up a lot of fussy edges in the various rooms to create clean lines throughout the flat."
Bathroom secrets: the flat's washing machine and dryer are cleverly tucked away in the bathroom, where nickel details complement the Statuario marble walls and floor. The mirror is custom-made in polished nickel (£1,700) and the taps are sourced from PE Guerin in New York (£726 for the three-peice set (peguerin.com (+1 212 243 5270)
Uninterrupted pale-coloured walls give a sense of height and the light-toned built-in storage continues this visual effect. The only dark walls are in the study area where the wood adds a sense of masculinity and seriousness to the flat's own mini business district. Pale marble brings a cool and airy feel to the bathroom, with nickel detailing adding a slick of retro sophistication.
Again, a large mirror multitasks as both focal point and space-giver. As elsewhere in the flat, the cupboard shelves are not generous but deep enough to be useful — 10cm is enough in the bathroom, with a generous 35cm in the study, making the most of every centimetre of vertical and horizontal surface.
More clever storage lines the walls of the bedroom concealing not only clothes but also speakers, as Bruinsma explains. "Above the small fireplace is a hidden TV. We mounted the speakers on the back of the cupboard doors that, when opened, face the bed. This enables surround sound in the bedroom without having to see the speakers." Using lighting, furniture, rugs and colours to subtly create functional zones within the main living space, Bruinsma has created a kind of mini theatre for a client that loves to entertain. The first act in the kitchen, the second around the dining table and ending up in the living room. Small spaces don't need to be a barrier to entertaining and with good design the space doesn't have to be an issue at all.
- For Rients Bruinsma, visit rients.com (020 7608 2900).