Friday, 22 April 2016

Aspects of Love

I've been lucky enough to visit the home of Bridget and Maurice Cambridge on several occasions and have loved it each time. Two halves of a very talented and creative couple - Bridget is a professional photographer and Maurice is an orchestral manager, (though a professional musician prior to this) - together they have created something rather special.

They live in a penthouse apartment a stone's throw from the river Thames, with their 3 year old daughter Serena. Filled with light, offering great views and yet completely private, it's a beautiful space right in the heart of historic Wapping. From the outside, the building looks like a typical converted warehouse - built originally for the dockers who worked by the river, but once you step through their front door, the views hit you. 

And oh what incredible views they are. In fact they were the first thing that Maurice noticed when he moved in 22 years ago and they're still his favourite part of the flat today. 

When the flat was bought, Wapping was just being newly developed and a lot was being done to re-generate the area. The idea of being close to the river in a modern equipped apartment appealed to Maurice. It's also given him the chance to witness the changing London skyline - there was no Shard or Gherkin or Walkie-talkie when he moved in. No London Eye either. They've had prime place to spot changes.

The flat consists of 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, dining area and glorious open 15x30ft living room. Last year, they extended over their roof terrace to create a new indoor space for socialising and entertaining. Aptly named the 'Blue Heights Bar' due to the light underneath the bar which wraps around the edge of the extension. This blue light carries on into the kitchen and gives a glorious glow to the lead coloured units.

The old exterior of their converted warehouse building conceals a modern, up-to-date interior. On trend, with timeless quality and comfort. This is key for them both. They have sought to create a luxuriously modern home that is practical and functional, but also cosy and relaxed too.

For Bridget especially it was important to ensure the interiors were soft and comfortable. The leather sofas are supple and encase you as you sit down, where the deep pile rug is warm underfoot. Perfect for relaxing or soaking up the views with a glass of Prosecco!

Throughout the flat the colours chosen are fresh and light. Creams and greys complement each other with feature walls in deep purple and chocolate to add depth and interest. The majority of the walls are light, painted in Dulux Natural Hessian, but in the kitchen and living room areas there is one feature wall. The kitchen feature wall is a bespoke purple toned paint (Dulux Purple Sage is similar) and in the living room they used Dulux Espresso Shot. The darker walls help to anchor the spaces and in the living room it has the unique effect of hiding the TV, giving the impression that it is not really there at all. The storage units in the living room span the enitre length of one side, giving them plenty of room to stow away their possessions and ensuring clutter can be kept hidden away. The result is clean and sleek. The units themselves are similar in style to their choice of kitchen units and this creates a sense of cohesion between the two rooms.

What really brings out the warmth and personality of their home are the personal details. Bridget's photography adorns some of the walls, as do the prints of the muscials Maurice has worked on. I also love the soft arching floor lamp over the sofa in the living room and the pictures of the warehouse they live in as it was almost 200 years ago. 

This is a very sociable space and they often have people over. The new extension has given them a unique area for dining and entertaining, but during the day, it's also given Bridget a personal workspace. Whereas everywhere else is completely open to the view, the windows here are the only ones in the entire flat with blinds, necessary for when Bridget is doing portrait photography.

How did they decide on their decorating style? - "with a lot of arguing!" laughs Bridget with  a sparkle in her eye. But I think this process is fun for them both and it is through this compromise that they have created a unique home.

At first they seem to be completely opposite: Maurice would ideally choose white, minimalist practical. If he did decide on colour it would be bold and primary. Bridget on the other hand likes quirky, unique and a wider colour palette, especially rich purple and teal. Moving in 11 years ago, Bridget has smoothed over some of the harder edges of the flat and added more glamour. 

2 years ago they re-decorated their en-suite bathroom and kitted it out with the ultimate in relaxation, a jacuzzi bath. But key to getting the overall look right was the lighting. Maurice favoured something practical and functional, Bridget wanted to evoke hotel-chic with a chandelier. The result? Dazzling crystal down lights, which make the room sparkle... It seems that the best design is produced when these two don't agree!

This bathroom, as well as the family bathroom, are both decorated in a very calming grey stone. It's a large tile which has the effect of making the room seem bigger than it is. In the en-suite, they've created added interest around the door by using a darker contrasting grey mosaic tile. 

Both bedrooms are tastefully decorated and Serena's room is a gorgeous, creative sanctuary for a little girl.

The master bedroom has a wall of floor to ceiling windows and clever mirrored panels on the wardrobe doors, reflecting the stunning skyline and bathing the room in light. One of Bridget's treasured possessions is the glass-like purple fish painting above the bed.

If they were given the choice to live anywhere in the world, there would be no way that they'd ever leave. Their friends and family live close by and they feel lucky to have found a space they adore. "We love our home and have worked hard to make it our own, we couldn't imagine being anywhere else". It's not hard to see why.

If you'd like to source a similar look for your home, here's Maurice & Bridget's interior address book:

 - Kitchen units and living room storage unit: LWK Kitchens
 - Cream sofa in living room: Designer Sofas
 - Underfloor heating: Warmup
 - Nursery furniture: Boori
 - Plants: Columbia Road Flower Market
 - Bedroom fish painting: Atelier Galleries
 - Bathroom tiles: Olympus Tiles & Bathrooms
 - Curved living room floor lamp: John Lewis
 - Blue lights and crystal bathroom down lights: Mr Resistor
 - Bathroom suite: Villeroy & Boch
 - Jacuzzi bath: Pegasus Whirlpool

Saturday, 9 April 2016

A journey around my room

Although it's April and we're officially into Spring, I'm not sure the weather has really caught up. I was kind of hoping for balmier days and longer spells of sunshine... This lack of warmth and the fact that I still need to wear a scarf when I leave the house, has turned my mind towards holidays. Are you already imaging yourself lying in the sand, enjoying some beach-themed drink in an overstuffed coconut shell? Good, so am I. Only one problem. It's April and we're in the UK... Summer holidays are about 3 months away. How will we cope with the wait? No need to despair yet as you don't even need to leave your sofa to inject a touch of holiday vibe into your surroundings.

All things exotic are making big waves in home stores. Think natural materials such as bamboo, rattan and cane. Imagine bold prints and bright colours. Look to inspiration from South America, India and the Orient. The result? Beautiful, unique home wares that will have you cancelling that far away trip in favour of a staycation in no time.

What kind of holiday will you choose?

1) Jungle Colour:

If you're an adventurous type who likes nothing more than the idea of trekking through the Amazon with a local tribe, hunting and foraging for food (perhaps with nothing more than a loin cloth to cover your modesty), then embrace a bit of jungle colour. 

Don't be shy in choosing bold, bright colours. Red, yellow, orange, green, pink and blue - be inspired by nature's rainbow. Put together with the neutral coloured chairs and adding a vibrant backdrop will make your space sing. These chairs could even have been hand-whittled on a beach as the fisherman's rope sides are supported by a eucalyptus tree frame. They blend in perfectly with their outdoor setting, or could easily be brought inside to bring the outdoor closer. Big and beautifully green palm-tree style plants will transport you to the middle of the jungle.

2) Orient Express:

Perhaps you'd prefer to travel in a bit more style? Old colonial glamour where you can enjoy your Turkish coffee or Indian chai relaxing in the comfort of something soft, the whirr of the ceiling fan giving a gentle breeze from overhead. And as night falls, there'll be gin, whisky and the chance to wear your finest silks to the socialise with others and re-live the sights and sounds of the day. Kick-back, indulge yourself and take a ride on the Orient Express. 

This look is achieved with a limited colour palette and dark woods. Highly polished surfaces and mirrored objects will help the room sparkle in the evening light. Black and white is always elegant and timeless, the curved, low seating accentuating the contrast. Be brave with your soft furnishings and a graphic print in the same colour scheme will tie the room together. Lighting is traditional but with a contemporary twist, note the glass bases of the table lamps and the chandelier style drops on the ceiling light. If you must go for colour, embrace dark blue or emerald green in sumptuous fabrics such as velvet. Glamour is the word.

3) Moroccan Magic:

But what if you want a bit more from your holiday, if you want to visit a place where you can soak up some of the culture? You'll want to walk through the souks, talk to the street vendors, taste the spices and smell the incence for yourself. It's time to experiece some Moroccan magic and immerse yourself wholeheartedly.

Choose rich, earthy colours such as deep red or yellow orche. Punctuate the intensity with a large wall hanging, like this big brass plate or a finely cut-out screen. Hang oriental lights in groups or go for one large light for maximum impact. Add a textured rug on the floor, picking out those deep shades. An unusual-shaped coffee table with circular shapes breaks up any hard edges and softens the look. Finish the room with cushions in patterned silks that shimmer.

 4) Spa Paradise: 

Or maybe you've been working hard in the office and what you really need is a holiday where you can relax and recharge. A spa on a desert island where massage, snorkling and yoga are all part of the package. There'll be rose petals in your bath and warm, secluded showers outside under the blue sky. Let yourself be pampered, heaven really is a place on earth.

To soothe those tired muscles and rejuvenate your mind, choose an all white bathroom suite and then add touches of grey marble or stone, such as these sink counter tops. Bring that colour into the rest of the room with a mosaic-edged mirror. Add more natural elements with slate coloured towels and plants. Marble floors will shine and are also a practical choice for easy cleaning. Soft lighting will make you want to linger longer, so you'll come away relaxed and refreshed.

What a great holiday! But why not bring some of that feeling back into your own homes? You'll then be able to wallow in it for much longer than 2 weeks a year...