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Property News,


Interior design

Property News,


Interior design

Behind the door at Bedford Gardens


Words by Jake Russell

We speak to Sally O’Connor of Hesellic Design about how she designed a dream house in Kensington

No.77 artist studio

Bedford Gardens is a quiet street, its houses set back from the road by generous front gardens. It was laid out in 1824 by a pair of builders – a father and son team, both named William Hall. Originally, the Halls planned two long terraces of houses, but only the eastern half was completed.

The rest of the road was eventually finished with Victorian villas, Edwardian apartment buildings, and artists’ studios. Several artists have lived here over the years, with No.77 a popular studio in the mid-twentieth century. Here you would find the Scottish painters Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde, along with the illustrator John Minton and the Polish painter Jankel Adler.

Opposite these studios is a secluded house that has recently come onto the market. Several years ago, the property was redeveloped by the award-winning architecture and design studio Rigby & Rigby. They invited Sally O’Connor, the Creative Director of Hesellic design, to create the interiors.

Creating open spaces

The house was almost entirely rebuilt, with a lower ground floor installed between the ground floor and the deep basement. Sally’s main challenge was to create open spaces that allowed light to travel between the different levels and rooms.

‘When I originally visited the property,’ Sally explains, ‘it was a rabbit warren, with little corridors and little rooms. So, I tried to open the space up as much as possible, while creating beautiful and functional rooms suitable for a busy family.’

No width could be added to the house, but the length was increased with a garden extension. In addition, the front stairs were moved forwards, providing even more volume at the rear of the house. Finally, the ground floor ceilings were raised as high as possible, creating lofty spaces that are perfect for entertaining.

A relationship between levels

The other important change was the installation of glazed doors and walls, allowing more open sightlines throughout the house. Perhaps the most spectacular example is the lower ground floor, where a series of bronze-framed glass walls separate the office, the wine cellar and the family sitting room, allowing both interaction and privacy. In addition, architectural glazing carries light into the home gym and all the way down to the basement swimming pool.

The house does not look imposing from the street, but there’s a remarkable amount of space across its five floors. Therefore, it was important to create a relationship between the different levels through the materials used. ‘There’s a real emphasis on the sense of flow from the top of the house to the bottom,’ Sally adds. ‘That meant a consistent use of materiality; brass hardware, bronze balustrading, and oak handrails stained to match the oak floors.’

This can be seen in the upper storeys of the house. For example, the generous principal bedroom has an ensuite bathroom and walk-in wardrobe. The other upstairs bedrooms are also ensuite, with Samuel Heath brassware adding to the consistency. Meanwhile, the joinery is bespoke throughout, using exotic veneers mixed with metal inlays to create common motifs across the property.

Classic with a contemporary spin

‘We wanted to achieve a very classic look with a contemporary spin. So, we introduced panelling and classic herringbone flooring in beautiful stained oak. But there were also contemporary elements such as the paler Crittall windows, the ironmongery and the bespoke joinery.’

Finally, a palette of muted colours was chosen, offset by colourful works of art on the walls – recalling the street’s creative heritage. This increased the sense of tranquillity, while also providing a neutral base that future owners could personalise with their own artworks or soft furnishings. ‘It would be very easy for someone to put a personal stamp on the property, because the design is so classic.’

When Sally looks back on the house, she remembers it as one of her favourite projects. Even though planning began over a decade ago, the interiors remain contemporary. ‘I’m proud of the house because it still feels very current. It’s the kind of design people are still asking for in their houses. People like spaces that are comfortable, liveable and luxurious, without being ostentatious. This house is such a welcoming place.’

Find out more about Bedford Gardens here.


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