When interior designer Verity Woolf was appointed to transform a Chelsea home for its Anglo/American owners, she brought a subtle international twist to the space planning, furniture, fabrics and lighting
What was the brief for the project?
Woolf Interior collaborated with MWAI Architects on an elegant refurbishment and extension of a 3,900 sq ft family house in the Little Boltons Conservation Area, Chelsea London. The design includes the reconfiguration of the Victorian building’s existing rear elevation with a new glass conservatory, a new lower-ground floor and a new subterranean basement.
How did you come up with the design concept?
The project was lead by an emphasis on bespoke joinery, a streamlined modern kitchen, elegant bathrooms, luxurious textiles and bespoke modern antique furniture. The design reflects the Anglo/American heritage and sophisticated style of the owners. The project is a blend of LA and London. The residence has a subtle international twist in all of the space planning, fabrics, lighting and furniture choices.
What were the biggest challenges you faced along the way?
The architects MWAI had the biggest challenge working on the planning for the rear elevation, glass conservatory and the basement dig. The new glass conservatory had to be very carefully integrated. The staircase was also flipped around and compressed to give an almost spiral effect from top to bottom.
Client involvement: hands-on or hands-off?
This project was a very symbiotic journey between designer and client. The client was very hands-on and we loved her input – she came to London to meet us regularly. She was great to work with because she was always so enthusiastic and decisive. She trusted us with the process.
We mixed in tailored British furniture and textiles to add texture, colour and character
Where did you find your inspiration?
We wanted the house to be a blend of US and UK style. We looked at superb American designers such as Nate Berkus and Kelly Wearstler and then tuned it to a London context by making the overall background palette very cool tonally which we applied consistent throughout. We mixed in tailored British furniture and textiles to add texture, colour and character.
What’s your favourite part of the project?
Ah that is hard…. The completion was the most satisfying part because it was the culmination of a number of consultants’ work and expertise combined with so many great suppliers and trades from around the world. Joinery from Austria, rugs from Nepal, stone from Italy, furniture made in England, artwork and accessories from an array of fabulous artists – to have all that energy consolidated in one residence is really mind-blowing.
Sum up your style in three words….
Individual, tailored and timeless.
How much do current trends inspire your work?
It was important that this project should be classic and timeless, so deferring to current trends was not important. I have a wide-ranging design philosophy and in the course of a design programme we draw upon a variety of influences and unexpected visual cues.
The residence has a subtle international twist in all of the space planning, fabrics, lighting and furniture choices
Do you have any exciting interior design projects in the pipeline for 2016?
By the end of 2016 we will have quite a wide range of projects completing. We are working in tandem with the Grosvenor Estate on an unusual development for a private client in Belgravia. This project is a highly detailed, super luxury, quirky interior refurbishment. The design will have some quite unexpected characterful elements included in the scheme.
We are also very excited to be designing the interior of a beautiful residential building located in the one of the oldest streets in Moscow. It is the only residential buildings in the square mile of the Kremlin and Red Square. The revival of this 19th-century building has been inspired by the look and feel of luxury historic buildings, the architecture and interior detailing blends together a modern interpretation of baroque and classical architecture.
We will also have completed a very edgy restaurant in Paddington, London – a total reinvention of an unused commercial space which is to be converted into a busy, quirky restaurant and bar with a pizza oven and pool table space. The design is focused around an easy contemporary ‘common room’ feel with three bars, multiple eating and drinking spaces and a private hangout. We are also working on a collection of private family residences in Chelsea, Brook Green and Bayswater which we have totally tailored to the character and life style of the families.
What excites you in the world of British interior design?
British interior design is always so energetic. The amazing variety of design shows such as 100% Design, Decorex, Sleep, Grand Designs, Clerkenwell Design Week, Focus, Design Junction, the Battersea Arts Fair and Masterpiece are great events showcasing amazing talent across the board in the UK and continue to inspire British and international designers and the wider public.
Design has always been in my life, there has never been a time when I did not design. It has not been so much a career as another dimension to my life. It is always a highlight when I start working on a new project. I have always been lucky to undertake very different and variable projects. WOOLF have been able to make every project individual and unique and that is what keeps us motivated.
Whose work do you admire in the world of luxury interiors?
There are so many wonderful designers. The 81-year design provenance of Pierre Frey’s fabrics is a fascinating family affair. Amy Sommerville’s beautifully tailored modern British antiques are exquisite. Fameed Khalique has a pretty amazing collection of rare and unusual materials sourced from around the globe. Best newcomer is ‘Based Upon’ established in 2004 by twin brothers Ian and Richard Abell, who founded it on an ethos of open exploration and a commitment to continuous innovation. Favourite interior designers include Nate Berkus and Kelly Wearstler and Studio Champalimaud in the US; and David Collins Studio, Blair Associates, Studio Toogood, Studio Ilsa in the UK.
And finally, what is your everyday luxury?
I never leave my house without wearing an array of gold jewellery by Cassandra Goad, Brooke Gregson and other Portobello vintage delights.
Image Credit: Alex James