You never know when inspiration will strike – in the case of the owner of this London apartment, one of the world's best homes, it was in a hotel in Athens. There he spotted the easy-on-the-eye schemes of interior designer Belén White Campos of Studio Beleta (opens in new tab), who had reworked the restaurants.
‘I’ve always felt a home should possess the sort of laid-back feel that I enjoy in Greece, where I spend a lot of time,’ says the owner. ‘Belén has a uniquely Mediterranean sensibility, partly because she grew up in Spain, and I knew she’d turn my flat into a sanctuary.’
This shared love of relaxed southern European style underpins every decision across the two-bedroom flat, which has a living space that runs across the raised ground floor, where a row of French windows opens out onto a terrace, with views across the communal garden beyond. ‘We really wanted to pull that sense of life and abundance provided by nature right into the space,’ says the owner.
Having cut her teeth at well-respected studios, including Martin Brudnizki and Cochrane Design, and with footholds in London, Málaga and Lyon, Belén’s design eye encompasses multiple influences, from the color and shaping of Moorish architecture to imperfect ceramics made by hand.
‘I’m drawn to yellows, greens and blues,’ she says. ‘I also love to go left field by combining those colors with something unexpected, like raspberry pink or cherry red.’ That approach is evident throughout this renovation, where architectural details are picked out in surprising ways (think tall sky blue window frames) and quotidian elements, such as wardrobes and hallway cupboards, have been enlivened by hand-stencilling or by fabric-backed glass panels.
‘The key was to get the layout right first,’ says Belén. ‘The apartment’s living room needed thoughtful zoning to encompass a sociable living area, plus room to dine, entertain and relax. I enjoy creating schemes that feel full and sumptuous while still allowing easy traffic flow. For me, schemes that don’t incorporate a variety of generous shapes and sizes can feel a little lacklustre.’
Among Belén's living room ideas was creating an intriguing display with hand-made ceramic plates on the wall.
Generous use of foliage connects inside and out in the living area.
Belén describes her approach to color as ‘playful but not too punchy’. She decided to paint the window frames to highlight their height.
There’s something to feast on here in whichever direction the eye travels and together it all adds up to a deeply layered home where woven elements share space with mid-century shapes, and block colour co-exists with hand-painted flourishes.
Dining room ideas include a considered mix of different materials. ‘Materiality is a key element in my schemes,’ says Belén. She has combined marble, rattan, lacquer and hand-painted elements here.
Among Belén's bedroom ideas was refurbishing the existing built-in wardrobe by introducing fabric-backed, full-length glass panels and a painted finish.
She also emphasised the apartment’s lofty proportions by highlighting key integral features, from ceiling heights to cornicing, which she has picked out in the main bedroom in a deep blue, while keeping the walls ‘relatively clean and unfussy’, which she says is the key to contemporising this colorful approach.
Belén has created a layered scheme in the bedroom that incorporates color, pattern and a variety of shapes and textures.
The addition of a fireplace on the terrace was all that was needed to complete the laid-back feel and counterbalance the UK’s sometimes less than temperate climate. Other than that, these interiors instantly transport the owner to sunnier shores. ‘It’s a home that feels warm, relaxed and inviting,’ he says. ‘Occupying this space never fails to quiet the mind.’
Interior design/ Studio Beleta (opens in new tab)
Photographs/ Rachael Smith (opens in new tab)
Text Emma J Page
Interiors have always been Vivienne's passion – from bold and bright to Scandi white. After studying at Leeds University, she worked at the Financial Times, before moving to Radio Times. She did an interior design course and then worked for Homes & Gardens, Country Living and House Beautiful. Vivienne’s always enjoyed reader homes and loves to spot a house she knows is perfect for a magazine (she has even knocked on the doors of houses with curb appeal!), so she became a houses editor, commissioning reader homes, writing features and styling and art directing photo shoots. She worked on Country Homes & Interiors for 15 years, before returning to Homes & Gardens as houses editor four years ago.
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