Bespoke detail, contemporary graphics and period charm in a Marylebone mansion block

Shutters were added to the lower ground floor flat to alow daylight to enter whilst protecting priva

Shutters were added to the lower ground floor flat to alow daylight to enter whilst protecting privacy and providing soundproofing. Photo: Luca Piffaretti - Credit: Archant

Adding contemporary texture and pattern to a flat in one of Marylebone’s most prestigious mansion blocks without sacrificing the charm of the original property – and without falling foul of the heavy restrictions of the building managers – wouldn’t usually be a small ask.

For Primrose Hill interior designer Georgina Cave, the perfect way to bridge the gap between the original space of the building and the full re-fit she was carrying out was to combine original vintage and vintage-inspired pieces with hot-for-2016 items to seamlessly transition between old and new.

“We sourced every single item for them. We found the really beautiful vintage mirror above the fireplace in the living room. Then there’s the fireplace itself, which was there already but we had to have it repaired and protected.

“The kitchen table was made using reclaimed wood and the worktops in the kitchen are made from reclaimed oak board – I like to mix modern and old elements. Reclaimed floors, tiles, wood, fabrics, I’ve done it all,” says Cave.

Where the vintage furniture just wasn’t a perfect fit, Cave simply designed her own, bespoke pieces to better fit the apartment’s 19th-century proportions.

“I love designing furniture so we designed several pieces ourselves and got them made up.

“There’s a lovely little love seat that we based on a vintage piece because we just couldn’t find it in the right size, so we had it made to look vintage. We did the same with the vanity unit around one of the bathroom sinks – we were quite size constrained so we had it made with vintage-style ironmongery.

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“All the fixtures and fittings were made in aged brass to make them look like they’d been there for years.

“At the same time the fabrics were all new, and Margaret, the client, liked a touch of the industrial look, which you can see in the dining table and chairs, and some of the units.”

One of the most striking features in the flat is the bold use of graphic pattern and colour, often in quite small spaces – the gallery kitchen has geometric encaustic tiles in shades of grey and cream, alongside deep blue units and brass taps and light fittings.

Although Cave says it was not a huge budget job since the flat was intended as a London pied-a-terre for the Bath-based family, she acknowledges that the project was enjoyable to work on because the client’s taste meshed so well with her own team’s ideas.

“Most of our clients are either local people who know us or know of us, or come to us through word of mouth. This was a bit different because the client came to us through our website saying they loved what they saw and that we have quite an individual style for each client,” says Cave.

“They were an absolute pleasure to work with. They felt comfortable when they weren’t going to go for one of our suggestions to just let us know, which is really important. But actually, it was quite rare for them to say she didn’t like something we’d chosen.

“We communicated mostly with the woman in the couple who had lovely taste and a strong vision herself. Some of our suggestions were quite daring because it’s a smaller space: she hadn’t considered green as a colour, although she loved blue; we also got her looking at the lovely encaustic patterned tiles. We encouraged her to try things she wasn’t necessarily sure about and the couple were both thrilled with the result.”

The project took around seven months from start to finish, which Cave says is mostly down to the relatively small size of the property.

“Often people think smaller projects are going to be really fast but often they take longer because of the size, you can’t fill it with people. You can’t have all the different traders tripping over each other,” she says. “We have just completed a whole five to six bedroom house in five months but we filled it to get it done.

“In addition mansion block rules are very strict when carrying out works so we had to work around that.”

Overall though, aside from the wishes of the client, the budget and any restrictions from size or regulations, Cave says that the a building’s architecture should dictate the look and feel of a project.

“A lot of the ceilings had been lowered so we raised them back up, we reinstated the cornicing. We wanted it to enhance it but for it to feel like a mansion flat and be true to the architecture.

“You’ve got to work with the architecture you’ve got. It’s about the people who inhabit the spaces, but it’s also about the spaces.”