Wednesday 18 Apr 2012


After purchasing the 14th and 15th floors of a new development adjacent to Paddington Basin, together with a roof terrace, the private owner of the empty shell duplex space commissioned renowned London architects and designers SHH to transform it into a luxurious, cool and contemporary penthouse, to serve as a London pied-à-terre for himself and his extended family.

The resulting stylish and unique residence, the largest in the development and offering spectacular views over the city, is an oasis of calm, in considered contrast to its bustling, urban setting - just a short walk from Edgware Road.

The brief from the client - with whom SHH had worked previously on a number of commercial schemes in the Middle East - was for the space to function effectively as a bespoke boutique hotel, so that any family member could stay in any of the five bedrooms at any time, whilst the differing functions each individual might also require from the penthouse were all to be subtly incorporated, without the overall spacefeeling disjointed.Originally two separate properties, the 14th and 15th floor apartments were merged to create the new penthousevia the installation of a new central staircase, creating a single residence of approximately 5,000sqft, including external terraces. It then fell to the SHH interiors team (led by Emlyn Conlon and René Dekker) to devise a cohesive, intelligent scheme which would unify the various spaces and deliver the beautifully-crafted environment the client desired.

The entrance hall to the penthouse features dark brown silk wall coveringsand a copper leaf feature wall (by DKT Artworks), ceding to a clear view of the cool greys and silvers of the main reception room beyond. The hallway allows brief glimpses of three similarly-styled bedrooms, also on this level. A bespoke mahogany cabinet and white leather bench sit comfortably in this spacious entrance, offset by a contemporary Terzani pendant light, which creates eye-catching patterns on the marble floor and reflective wall surfaces. An abstract black and white print completes the look and is an indication of what is to come.

The main reception room is flooded with light, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides, yet remains satisfyingly calm, with rhythmical portrait views of the city and skyline providing an interesting and ever-changing backdrop.At the centre of the room is a fireplace island wall, finished in a metallic cross-combed polished plaster, again by DKT Artworks, framing a bespoke, dark-stained oak dining table, which seats ten. Flexform ME dining chairs around the table are upholstered in fabric from Romo's Zinc range. The dining area is served by an ultra-contemporary, white Molteni Dada kitchen, which was within the remit of the main contractor.

The double-sided fireplace opens also on to the more formal side of the reception room. Here, a sumptuous, bespoke, deep-buttoned leather sofa commands centre stage, positioned perfectly under three striking black and white artworks from German artist Godwin Hoffman. Two low back armchairs from Meridiani and a white lacquer coffee table from PortaRomana complete the ensemble. Punchy accents are achieved by carefully-placed, deep purple satin and cream silk scatter cushions with copper accessories, which subtly reference the earthy tones of the entrance hall.

Opposite, a less formal seating area is defined by the bespoke modular sofa from The Sofa & Chair Company, creating the perfect place to relax and take in the stunning views or to enjoy the apartment's state-of-the-art audio-visual system, integrated into the bespoke, full-height joinery. Fabrics and finishes continue in the same soothing grey and metallic vein and a cameo of colour is found in the exquisite ottoman-come-coffee table, a combination of rich macassar ebony with an aubergine, hair-on-hide inlay, bespoke-designed by EmlynConlon and beautifully executed by Interior Joinery.

Dark brown earthy tones are again evident in bedroom one, anchored by a full-height upholstered bespoke headboard in black fabric with a gold and copper fleck, from Chase Erwin. Finely-woven fabric wall covering from Innovations and supplementary fabrics from Kravet, J Robert Scottand Abbott & Boyd provide the expected level of luxury and the overall feel is one of understated sophistication. As the emphasis in this residence is on the living and family areas, great care was taken to maximise the limited space available in the bedrooms. The rooms are uncluttered yet welcoming andall joinery is bespoke, designed by Emlyn Conlon and expertly made by Hannah Contracts Ltd.,to fit exactly into alcoves and corners, so as not to hinder the flow of passage through the rooms and giving an open and spacious feel. In all bedrooms and indeed throughout the apartment, the finely-detailed joinery, both freestanding and built in, compliments the textured surfaces and luxurious finishes in a very subtle way.

Bedrooms two, three, four and five are a continuation of this ethos and are equally pragmatic in their layout, as well ascohesive schematically. The palette moves effortlessly from dark brown and black to cool grey and olive, charcoal and cerulean, limed oak and taupe and to graphite and dark rust. Individual pieces such as aFlorence Knoll bench in tungsten leather, an ebony and gold scalloped mirror from PortaRomana and original prints from Liverpool artist Lindsey Moran, add another layer of interest and give each room their own character.

Descending the stairs to the 14th floor, one enters the second reception room, again benefitting from refreshing streams of natural light and far-reaching views, but forming a more intimate space than the main reception on the floor above with a casual, relaxed air. A large,bespoke, low back modular sofa, upholstered in carbon-coloured cotton and with a generous scattering of cushions in a mixture of silver, gold and plum silks and velvets, sits easily on a linear-patterned silk rug, with a number of loosely-placed ottomans for company. Light grey textured fabric wall covering from Stereo and faux fur throws on the sofa enhance the feeling of warmth and comfort in this informal lounge area.

Profiting from the open plan nature of this area and maximising the space available, an informal dining area and study have also been incorporated and are an appropriate extension of the living area. As throughout the apartment, the continuity and cohesiveness of the colour palette and finishes exits here also. The same Stereo wall covering extends to three of the connecting walls, whilst the four dining chairs from Casamilano, that encircle a bespoke round dining table are upholstered in fabric from Romo, which echoes the tones of the main sofa. A Caboche suspension light from Foscarini gently illuminates, whilst another original print from Lindsey Moran completes this vignette.

The study joinery, designed by Emlyn Conlon and again manufactured by Hannah Contracts, who carried out all the interior decorations,is crisp, contemporary and perfectly arranged. A combination of open and closed storage and a series of floating elements, it is a feature in itself, with its geometric design an extrapolation of the fretwork screen on the floor above, offset against an exquisite two tone silk feature wall covering, in deep purple and gold. The monolithic dark stained oak desk is a playful contrast to the delicate shelving and defines this space.Like the main reception room, the nature of this entire space is multifunctional, aligned with the client's wishes.

Along with the aforementioned two bedrooms on this level, a private cinema completes the accommodation. Distinctly dark and moody, it is the perfect setting for watching movies on the 2m-wide projector screen, integrated within bespoke joinery that also houses concealed speakers and all the necessary audio-visual equipment. Indeed,throughout the apartment, the audio-visual capacity is extensiveand all areas, including lighting and window treatments, can be controlled independently via remote Crestron panels.

Of course, no city centre penthouse would be complete without great views and this particular location certainly does not disappoint. Up on the impressive roof terrace, London completely envelopes the viewer. The stunning panorama takes in all the key landmarks and iconic buildings including The Royal Albert Hall, Battersea Power Station, The London Eye and the soon to be completed Shard London Bridge. The city scape needs little embellishment and the understated treatment of this external extension of the apartment befits this and does not compete with the views.

The contemporary, low modular furniture, in dark brown vinyl with sand coloured cushions, is arranged in distinct groups. Starting inthe South West corner, an L-shaped sofa and ottoman provide the perfect vantage point from which to experience the city in all herglory. Cedar lattice screens, olive trees and heathers in dark grey rectangular planters further soften the expanse and help frame thevarious zones, leading you leisurely across the terrace.The next arrangement of seating, another L-shaped sofa with coffee table and ottomans, sits central to an outdoor TV, built in to a dark slate and grey stained iroko surround. Just beyond is a spacious dining area with seating for eight and an outdoor kitchen with integrated BBQ and fridge.Finally, and to complete the luxury penthouse brief, a 3m by 2m Jacuzzi, clad again in dark slate and iroko, offers- day or night - a great example of how life could, or should be....