Simplicity so crucial to blending old and new
THIS room may not be a living being, but I can still describe the space as having lovely bone structure. In the design industry, this sort of "lovely bones" talk means that the room has an architectural integrity reflected in its key components, in this case very tall elegant windows, a well positioned chimney breast, with striking fire surround to boot, and a high ceiling with original cornice intact.
Revealing structure and proportion is a designer's true mission. The rule of thumb here is keep it simple to make it modern.
Creating a minimal style within an ornate Victorian room works best when things are differentiated clearly. In this instance, the architecture speaks for itself so the finishes and fittings need to have their own vitality to work in the surroundings through good design and colour.
Improving the proportions and revealing period grace and style was achieved by first discarding the Nineties false dado (thus lengthening the walls) and removing the picture rail from the chimney breast, where a modern piece of art requires a modern backdrop. The skirting is painted to match the walls in order to prevent a stripe effect near the floor, and the furniture has neat footprints so the room feels elegant and spacious.
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Key parts of the design brief lay in making the room feel light and restful; a place to sit, read and contemplate. The clients wanted to introduce simple modernity appropriate for their Victorian sitting room in Cotham. To this end, there is a restful colour palette, picking up on a piece of the clients' existing artwork displayed over the fireplace. To emphasise the blues in the picture, green/grey paint tones are used on the walls and wrapped through to the bay window for a seamless effect.
Ironically, Farrow & Ball's, "Bone" colour is not only the right name for this room, but it adds a lovely hue of green mixed with neutral grey for a perfect backdrop. It lends a sophistication to the walls and works well in an Eggshell finish on the period shutters too, extending the walls of the room into the window area. The colour is fresh yet muted and a perfect context for the modern, bold "brights" in the furnishings.
The ceiling and cornice are painted Farrow & Ball's "Skimming Stone" to create a vintage off-white feel. Bright whites are often too harsh for period architecture, so this colour softens the room's edges well.
The curtains are beautifully understated and elegant, with a light linen feel, in Romo's plain Linara fabric (code: 2494/63, made by The Sofa Library, Clifton).
Using French pleated headings means the fabric falls in regular pleats rather than in old fashioned "swags and tails" opulence that wouldn't have worked here. The effect is modern and uncluttered as well as being simple and refined.
The bold red and contemporary curve of Sancal's Silencio chair and matching footstool provide a quiet spot for a snooze, while the marvellous "Twiggy" lamp, waving on its flexible stalk, creates a wonderful vignette in the bay window. The eclectic Celine side table comes complete with fake rose and teardrop base and doesn't intrude upon the space too much. (Find similar furniture items from Oskar Furniture, Clifton).
Bones notwithstanding, the result in this room shows that modern furnishings can elevate an interior without detracting from the character of a room. The secret is keeping it simple.