A perforated cornflower-blue staircase, a stretch of similarly electric custom cabinetry, a maze of elegant wood-slat walls. . . at first glance, this London apartment reads out of my league.
We are happy to report that’s a very wrong assumption. “Done well, we find that great design is not about the best and the most expensive, it’s about what that item can bring to the project, and how it can work with other items around it,” Eryk Ulanowski, the founder of the architecture firm behind the penthouse’s transformation, Studio Ulanowski, told us. Surprise, surprise, we wholeheartedly agree.
That wasn’t the only gem Eryk shared with Clever about the project – below are are five more pieces of his wise advice.
Bonus tip: File these away for when you do your own remodel.
1. It’s possible to make engineered wood flooring look like the real thing: Those gorgeous oak planks? Fake. “We asked for it untreated (no lacquer or oil), then used a combination of Danish lyes and natural oils to get a finish that kept the oak looking like the original natural product,” Eryk explains.
2. Terrazzo isn’t just trendy: “Terrazzo is such a cost-effective material that can bring color and excitement to a project. As reconstituted marble, it’s way cheaper than expensive marble slabs,” says Eryk. “In the kids’ bathrooms, we paired it with very cheap and simple tiles; in the master suite, with a much more expensive handmade tile. In both instances, the terrazzo brought its own charm and worked well to complement the other tiles. ”
3. Don’t restrict the bathroom to a single room: “Due to a sloping roof on the upper floor, we were restricted as to how we could lay out the master bathroom,” says Eryk. So, they thought outside the box – literally. “We decided to open it up and move the sinks into the wardrobe opposite, so you pass through the bathroom space on the way to the bedroom. It sounds odd, but worked so well! By using slatted screens and a simple palette of materials throughout, the spaces and boundaries were blurred and concealed. ”
4. Make your dining table multipurpose: Eryk designed the kitchen’s cobalt-blue lower cabinets to wrap around to the living space to connect the two areas together. However, thanks to the dining room table, the room doesn’t always need to be one giant, open space. Eryk made the table slightly higher than the cabinetry so one end can sit directly on top of it, creating an island of sorts for everyday meals. “For big family dinner parties, the modular living room sofa can be moved back and the dining table moved out, rotated, and extended to seat 12,” Eryk explains.
5. Basic elements are big design opportunities: “The curved doorway was just about having a bit of fun and not sticking to the status quo just because it’s already there,” says Eryk. “For us, it is so important to question every single detail and ask, ‘Is this the best it can be? Does it need to look like this or is there another way? ’ We opened up the original two-meter-high doorway to make it four meters high and bring light into the hallway. ”