Inside the St John’s Wood home of interior designer, Brian Woulfe
PUBLISHED: 15:53 20 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:55 20 July 2018
This elegant apartment in St John’s Wood has been carefully curated by interior designer and former concert pianist, Brian Woulfe
Brian Woulfe doesn’t do things by halves. When he embarks on a project his approach is meticulous, with every aspect of the design – aesthetic and functional - considered in great detail.
The interior designer’s reimagining of his own home - a three-bedroom Edwardian apartment in St John’s Wood that he bought together with his partner last year - was no different. Take the lighting for example. A coordinated system running throughout the flat features various settings to suit different times of the day or moods – so there’s one for the morning, another for lunchtime, a further setting for the evening and one for watching a movie. What about if you get up in the middle of the night and need a glass of water from the kitchen, but don’t want a bright glare in your face, I hear you ask? Ok, you probably didn’t ask that, but Brian’s thought of this too. There are special lights that only illuminate at a low level - perfect for when you’re not quite ready to fully wakeup. “I’ve designed the lighting system so every light has a purpose,” he explains, “it’s not just needlessly shining down on your head.”
Natural light was also a big consideration when planning the refurbishment. “Edwardian apartments tend to be quite grand with very high ceilings, but a previous owner had lowered the ceilings in this flat, which meant there was less natural light coming through the bay windows. I decided to reinstate the original height, which made the space much brighter and welcoming.”
While light is important, in Brian’s home it’s more an impressive supporting act than the star. What really strikes you when wandering around his apartment are the beautiful bold colours and sumptuous furniture. Shades of blue, green and mustard yellow have been used throughout the home, connecting the various rooms and bringing warmth to the space. A pop of bright red from one of two specially commissioned art canvases provides the complementing colours “something to fight against”. “I want the rooms to flow, but a little jarring here and there really brings the space alive,” he says.
The furniture meanwhile, with its nod to an Art Deco world of glamorous cocktail parties, has mostly been custom made for the apartment. Stand-out pieces include a drinks cabinet and console unit featuring brass and bronze doors, cast to produce a charred and axed wood effect. One of the flat’s biggest showstoppers, however, has to be the round marble dining table with a geometric base by Tom Faulkner and eight striking mustard yellow chairs (“I love entertaining so a good-sized, beautiful table was important to me.”)
Brian - who was a successful concert pianist before embarking on his current career - is a big believer function and style can exist together and has chosen a more budget-friendly rug, and replaceable fabric for his sofa to accommodate his dog Chow Mein, a rather adorable and fluffy Chow Chow. “If Chow Mein damages the sofa or rug then it’s not the end of the world,” he tells me. “It was important the flat was pet friendly - it means I don’t feel nervous of something happening the whole time.”
Asked if he found it easier working on his own home compared to designing others’, Brian smiles: “No, it’s been a lot tougher doing my own. I’ll never be my own client again! Making decisions is so much harder and I had to do the whole project in three months, which isn’t long at all.
“But I am really happy with the place, and planning to stay for a while to really enjoy it.”