The Edwardian mansion block was the height of modernity when it was first built. The wide spaces, lifts and 24-hour porterage appealed to the professional classes, who also appreciated the central city location. By the Seventies, however, these dwellings had fallen from fashion. Their traditional layout of a corridor flanked by a separate kitchen and dining room seemed out of sync with the shift towards brighter, more open-plan living.
See more inspiring house tours in our Spaces section
- See some of the world's best homes – beautiful properties from around the globe
Yet as the homeowners will testify, fashions have a habit of coming full circle. 'Since we came back from Hong Kong, we've lived in Surrey, and we wanted a second home in central London,’ says the husband, a corporate lawyer. 'It had to be a place with enough room for us to be together as a family but where our grown-up children could also have their own space.’
Almost as an afterthought, an agent showed them this flat. Set on the second floor, it was the double-fronted reception room with bay windows overlooking the street that piqued the couple's interest. 'We'd previously viewed mews houses but this gave us the large living area we wanted,’ says the owner.
The rest of the apartment was, however, decidedly frowsty. 'The bathrooms were tired and the kitchen had almost no light,’ says the owner. In the Eighties, the original cornices, fireplaces and architraves had been ripped out. Everything presented a challenge. At which point their agent introduced them to interior designer Katie McCrum. The couple's brief was ambitious: 'We envisaged a luxurious apartment with a Parisian feel and an open-plan living area,’ says the owner.
The predictable solution, says Katie, might have been to position the kitchen at one end of the long room. Instead, a chunk of space was 'stolen' from the bedroom next door so that the kitchen sits in a recess echoing the shape of the bay window opposite. To bring definition to the room, Katie designed a pair of cabinets painted navy to mirror the fireplace opposite.
‘All the other rooms involved a series of debates about light or storage to make sure everyone had a place of their own,’ says Katie. Starting again, every wall was removed and the layout reshuffled. Now there are three bathrooms and three bedrooms.
Throughout the flat, a brace of design tricks enhances light and space. Mirrors illuminate dark corners and tall, glazed doors bring light to the sitting room, where the oak parquet floor adds an illusion of width. Traditional details – cast-iron radiators and wall panelling – have been reinstated sealing the result: a mansion-block apartment adroitly reinvented for 21st-century family living.
The utility area is hidden behind cupboards on the right, while glazed doors leading to the sitting room bring in natural light.
The Belgian black stone fireplace mirrors the deep blue of the new units at the opposite end of the room.
Bold black cabinetry creates a calm, atmospheric feel in this contemporary kitchen.
In this new space next to the couple’s son’s bedroom, floor-to-ceiling storage was designed to conceal the boiler, with smart brass detailing enhancing the deep-blue theme.
Sliding doors have been painted in the same color as the wall panelling for a cohesive, streamlined feel.
A floating desk doubles as a dressing table, while a circular mirror hung behind the shelf adds an unexpected element.
The walls are clad in smooth Microcete offset by the traditional patterned floor tiles.
Wardrobes screened by sliding doors trimmed in brass – a recurring motif of the flat – enhances the room’s seamless feel.
Once a dark, awkwardly configured kitchen, this space was redesigned by Katie into this elegant room where a glazed wall and floating vanity units to maximise the light.
Katie McCrum, mccruminteriordesign.co.uk
Photography/ Davide Lovatti
Best dehumidifier: reduce mold and bacteria at home with our top picks
The best dehumidifiers to stop mold in its tracks, from TaoTronics, LG, Hisense and more
By Caroline Preece •
Small yard landscaping ideas – 10 modern garden designs for small spaces
Transform a tiny yard with a carefully-considered layout, creative planting and the right garden materials
By Jennifer Ebert •
This London townhouse showcases a calming neutral palette and an array of interesting textures
Composed colors and a variety of textures have given this elegant London home a sophisticated and alluring appeal
By Vivienne Ayers •
Green roofs – a guide to sedum roofs
Green roofs aren't just attractive, they have a whole host of eco benefits, too
By Sarah Warwick •
Inside Bette Davis's former coastal home – a stunning French Normandy estate in Laguna Beach
The sprawling beachfront home is on the market for $19,995,000...
By Ruth Doherty •
Bill and Melinda Gates’ San Diego home will take your breath away – tour this extraordinary property
This $43 million home comes with its very own private beach
By Jennifer Ebert •
Take the tour around golfing legend Greg Norman's kaleidoscopic Florida house
The Atlantic Oceanic paradise blends tropical style with a quintessential English aesthetic
By Megan Slack •
This idyllic 16th-century English cottage has been beautifully restored – and makes the perfect family home
A twist of fate led André and Lisanne Hedger to realize their dream of owning a chocolate-box thatched cottage in the heart of the countryside
By Pippa Blenkinsop •
Homes & Gardens' Color of the Month: May – Zoffany's Tiger's Eye
The month of growth and renewal deserves a sunny but sophisticated shade – and we’re bathing in its warm and rich tones
By Megan Slack •
The iconic Green Gables estate in California is on sale – here are 4 ways a tour of its stunning garden can inspire you
How to elevate your garden for summer - mansion-style...
By Ruth Doherty •