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A Masterful Mix-and-Match Apartment in London by Beata Heuman

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A Masterful Mix-and-Match Apartment in London by Beata Heuman

Simon Brown June 20, 2022

The interior designer Beata Heuman’s latest project—a vast, open-plan apartment in London’s Notting Hill—is fizzing with ideas. “This was a real blank canvas for us to play with,” explains the Swedish-born, London-based designer. “The apartment was very much an anonymous shell that was hard to attribute to any particular period. For us, it became the perfect place to experiment.’

Join us for a tour:

Photography by Simon Brown.

beata heuman&#8\2\17;s latest london project was the first open plan space  9
Above: Beata Heuman’s latest London project was the first open plan space the studio has designed.

The two-story apartment is owned by a couple in their mid-20s. “It was a really exciting opportunity for us, because it’s not that often you get these big, lateral spaces in the heart of London,” Beata says.”Plus, the clients had just got married and weren’t planning on children anytime soon,” she adds. This gave Beata and her team the opportunity to free up bedrooms and create a generous space for living and entertaining—“without having to think about nappy stations!”

the entrance lobby with a view through to the utility room. 10
Above: The entrance lobby with a view through to the utility room.

Although the apartment block dates from the early 1900s, the lofty interiors had been stripped bare. (Beata described it as “a bit developer-y … kind of soulless.”) With no historical features to enhance or obey, Beata’s singular approach to design came into its own. The result is a combination of styles—a playful pick-and-mix of periods and influences that enliven the space. We asked Beata how she approached this particular blank canvas:

Set the Tone

The apartment is arranged over two floors, with the hallway and bedrooms on the first floor, and the living space on the second floor with a large roof terrace above. “As soon as we started looking at the plans, we instinctively felt that the staircase should come up as a curve, rather than at a blocky right angle. It somehow didn’t feel welcoming.”

the curve of the new staircase has changed the tone of the entrance and the flo 11
Above: The curve of the new staircase has changed the tone of the entrance and the flow of the space above.
a circular table echos the curve of the staircase whilst the chunky butcher 12
Above: A circular table echos the curve of the staircase whilst the chunky butcher’s block functions as a kitchen island.

This structural change affected the layout of the existing kitchen, which previously relied on the angular staircase for separation from the living space. “I always try to design kitchens so that they don’t look too kitchen-y,” says Beata. The blue cabinetry was inspired by a visit to Swan House in Atlanta, which was designed in 1928 by Philip T. Shutze. “I wanted to bring the cabinets all the way up to the ceiling, so the proportions became quite warped and exaggerated,” she says.

Careful sourcing of vintage furniture has also helped set a relaxed, informal tone. “They are a young couple so we didn’t want the space to feel too precious,” explains Beata. “We sourced a lot of fairly inexpensive vintage pieces—more than we normally do. It also helped create a sense of accumulation over time. Hopefully, you can’t tell this was pulled together in just four months!”

Create Sight Lines

Beata decided to panel the library and study area off the main living area. “This draws your eye through the space, creating a little vignette and beckoning you in,” she says. “The space is warm and welcoming and captures the evening sun. My clients have told me that whenever they have parties, guests naturally congregate here.” The gridded folding doors were added by Beata. “These add a bit of variation to the space,” she explains. “If you’re here on your own, or if you just wanted to feel a bit different, you can close off the space.”

the ottoman is a bespoke design; the hampa matta rug is available from beata&am 13
Above: The ottoman is a bespoke design; the Hampa Matta rug is available from Beata’s ‘Shoppa’. The cushions are by Yinka Ilori. The armchairs and side tables are all vintage finds.
what was once a bedroom has become the ply paneled library. 14
Above: What was once a bedroom has become the ply-paneled library.
the library leads through into the &#8\2\20;studio,&#8\2\2\1; with acce 15
Above: The library leads through into the “studio,” with access to a large roof terrace.
a further bedroom has been transformed into a study with cork walls and a bespo 16
Above: A further bedroom has been transformed into a study with cork walls and a bespoke desk and joinery.

Color in moderation

“People often think our work is quite colorful,” says Beata. “But if you really think about it, we generally do light walls. For us, achieving a balance is really important. Everything needs to feel under control, so while we had loads of fun adding color here, we actually exercised quite a lot of restraint, making sure that we didn’t go too far.”

on the ground floor, a laminate parquet floor was painted fuchsia pink and knoc 17
Above: On the ground floor, a laminate parquet floor was painted fuchsia pink and knocked back using several specialist washes. The border is deep green. “It complements the pink in quite a nice, subtle way, as opposed to black which I think would have been a bit harsh or sharp.” (The design was inspired by the 18th-century Palazinna Cinese Beata visited on her honeymoon in Palermo.)
the fuchsia flooring continues through into the main bedroom, which features a  18
Above: The fuchsia flooring continues through into the main bedroom, which features a bespoke bench covered in Beata’s Dappled Velvet, vintage bedside tables and a vintage Knoll sofa reupholstered in Jumbo Gingham.
behind bespoke joinery in the main bedroom is this vestibule, which leads to th 19
Above: Behind bespoke joinery in the main bedroom is this vestibule, which leads to the main bathroom and carpeted dressing room with wardrobes covered in Svenskt Tenn Hawaii fabric.
the dressing table and surrounding joinery is entirely bespoke. 20
Above: The dressing table and surrounding joinery is entirely bespoke.
the main bathroom with granite flooring, and a vintage slipper chair covered in 21
Above: The main bathroom with granite flooring, and a vintage slipper chair covered in Beata’s Palm Drop fabric.

Upstairs in the living space, the cast iron radiators have been painted pillar-box red. “In general, we use white radiators, but when we were walking around the space with a paint chart, we thought this red would pack a bit more of a punch, especially as we hadn’t furnished the perimeter of the room.”

the tv is concealed behind a gallery of personal photos. the pinch moreau sofas 22
Above: The TV is concealed behind a gallery of personal photos. The Pinch Moreau sofas follow the angle of the chevron flooring.

Organizing Features

The fireplaces act as organizing features in the open-plan living space. In the sofa area, the fire surround is coated in chalkboard paint with an oak mantle. (“There’s even a little groove that you can keep the chalk in.”) Friends and family are encouraged to graffiti the surround each time they visit. The fireplace dictated the direction of the new chevron flooring (and, consequently, the sofa grouping) which has been laid on the diagonal to create a sense of dynamism. The second fireplace is a homage to Julian Schnables’ Palazzo Chupi in Manhattan.

the dining table was an auction find; the chairs are by gemla—sweden& 23
Above: The dining table was an auction find; the chairs are by Gemla—Sweden’s oldest furniture factory.

Creative Conflict

“I always try and have conflicting styles going on,” Beata explains. “Next to the Schutze-inspired kitchen you can see into their studio and library, which has a mid-century aesthetic. And then, if you turn around again, we’ve created this bar that—in my mind—is a bit baroque.”

the bespoke bar. 24
Above: The bespoke bar.
a \1950s inflected utility room, featuring checkered lino flooring and a custom 25
Above: A 1950s-inflected utility room, featuring checkered lino flooring and a custom-made stainless steel countertop.

“There are a lot of different styles going on that both conflict and enhance each other,” Beata concludes. “I’m happiest when I can mix and match styles and different reference points in this way. Hopefully, you can tell how much fun we had with this project.”

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