x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Structure meets elegance in renovated Georgian property

Original elements and quirky modern decor lend classic style to a renovated Georgian building in London.

It is a brave person who takes a traditional Georgian building and transforms it into a modern, classic home, a space that seamlessly merges elegant, 21st-century living with all the character and essence of the original blueprint. But that is precisely what the interior designer Loucas Louca achieved with this three-storey apartment in the heart of London's historic Clerkenwell. After 14 months of hard labour and creative to-ing and fro-ing, this simple, brick building opens up into a colour-packed, unpretentiously stylish home.

The property, a renovated 19th-century building,belongs to Kally Ellis, the managing director of McQueens, the acclaimed florist, and is rented out to a young couple. After a chance meeting more than a decade ago, Ellis and Louca recently joined creative forces, opening ellis+louca interiors, a shop selling carefully sourced furniture, fabric, ceramics, toys and glassware from the ground floor of this same property. The upstairs flat is the first project under the ellis+louca banner.

The first job - and the greatest challenge of the entire project - was to remove the existing roof in order to add a third floor and terrace.

"We needed to dismantle a wall brick by brick, a task that was both nerve-wracking and meticulous. The end result, however, made all that effort wholly worthwhile," Louca says

Thanks to Louca's meticulous design eye and creative input, there is a seamless flow from the first floor living area/kitchen, leading up to the second floor master bedroom and bathroom and up again to the guest bedroom/office on the third floor with its en-suite shower and direct access to a neatly proportioned terrace.

One of the key features of Louca's design ethos was to maintain the original structure of the building and preserve - or reinstate - its modest period elements as far as possible. So inside, you'll find untouched brick walls, reclaimed oak parquet flooring and walls, cornices and staircases painted in monochromatic shades from the Farrow and Ball palette. These subtle historical references are then juxtaposed with fresh playful styling - modern works of art, a vibrant Margo Selby rug or Josef Albers' colour-blocked nesting tables re-issued by Vitra - to create an elegant, warm and cheerful ambience.

"My initial concept for the internal space was to be a series of soothing rooms that were to be sophisticated, and short of clichés," Louca says. "The furniture dressing the apartment would be slim and clean lined, resonating with a 1950s and 1960s design aesthetic. The wood was to be either teak or rosewood and decoration would aim to be elegant and charming."

However, design tactics changed when, during the initial phase, ellis+louca hooked up with Vitra, which agreed to make available a selection of pieces from its current and older ranges, from home-office furniture to modernist clocks and a number of playful, colourful products.

"I needed to bring all these different elements of the collection into one cohesive design, so decided to create spaces that did not end up being straight or totally holistic room designs," he says.

He pulled the look together with fresh and spirited styling, choosing bold colours for signature classic pieces and creating an energetic, multi-hued character which runs throughout every floor.

With a backdrop of neutral colours, earthy wooden floors and crisp white mosaic tiles, the clean-cut architectural bones of the apartment can shine through while the bold hues and quirky pieces inject personality and charm.

Louca loves the different elements of the apartment such as the unadorned, uneven walls, the reclaimed parquet floor, the monochromatic skin of the kitchen, the unpretentious shell of the bathroom and, of course, the black period staircase.

"However, if pushed to choose a space, I would select the top floor, with the guest bedroom and its terrace. They epitomise, I feel, the design goal of the project as a whole. It has elements of escapism, meditation and relaxation, essentials when choosing to live in such a frenetic and busy part of London."

* Red Cover