How to convert a dentist’s studio with a few apartments above into a luxury home? Especially when it has a tired facade and thin footprint and your aesthetic points very firmly towards lavish?
For designer Fiona Barratt-Campbell, who was undertaking her first-ever remodel, her goal was “to use luxurious handcrafted finishes to create a lavish and inviting home,” she says. “We wanted to create a livable atmosphere throughout the house and designed every aspect very well – from the interior layout, to the color scheme, to the furnishings and the artwork – with potential future owners in mind.”
Under its new business arm Fiona Barratt Projects, and with husband Sol taking care of the finances, the modern house in Chelsea, London, took a year to redevelop.
“The main challenges were the structural works – we had to restore the facade and rebuild and reconfigure many internal structures to maximize the space,” says Fiona. “For example, we have widened the entrance hall so that you really feel like you are arriving – it used to be very narrow – and we have also added an incredible skylight in the guest bedroom because in the whole house, we wanted to maximize natural light.”
The modern kitchen is on the ground floor and is open plan, leading to a dining room and TV lounge. It may be a relatively small space, but that hasn’t stopped Fiona from dialing in its opulence through the use of dramatic veining and contemporary furniture, handcrafted by her own FBC London brand.
“The island, worktop surfaces and backsplash feature rare and exquisite Italian Calacatta Viola marble,” says Fiona. “The striking marble offers a variety of subtle tones and colors that complement the palette and materiality of the cabinets. With practicality in mind, this specific marble creates a durable and long-lasting surface through its polishing, which ensures it has better resistance marks and stains while achieving a timeless modern feel.
Using such a dramatic stone in an open kitchen might dominate the space, but here it’s soft enough to almost blend into its surroundings.
“Despite its striking appearance, the variety of warm brown tones in marble are actually very subtle and not overpowering,” says Fiona. “And they also complement the tones of the cabinets. The pattern of the marble really lifts and adds character to the front of the matte lacquer and veneer cabinets, instantly creating a focal point for the space. We intentionally chose simplicity in the small details, including cupboards and handleless drawers for a more streamlined look.
Despite the modernity of the kitchen, it doesn’t seem to clash with the more traditional feel of the furniture, thanks to the paleness of the floor which unites it with the rest of the room.
“We really wanted to create a contemporary home, but with a softness and quality of life,” says Fiona. “Keeping materials light but warm helps achieve that balance. The floor is made of light wood in herringbone pattern.
Dining and TV areas
The dining room, just off the kitchen, is relatively narrow – 12 feet by 7 feet. The bench on one side of the table, pushed against the wall, makes the best use of space.
“We wanted to incorporate a bench on one side, but rather than having a fixed bench on the other side of the table, the individual dining chairs offer flexibility as they can be easily moved around if more space is needed. is needed,” says Fiona.
Because there is a wall of glass in this space, pouring in lots of wonderful light, Fiona had to use other tricks to make the dining room feel intimate. “Separating the dining room from the living room was an intentional decision, to create a comfortable environment in the open space,” says Fiona. “Many of our clients prefer this ‘broken plan’ style of living space. The natural light provided from the exterior and the extended glass roof gives a light and airy feel, maintaining a sense of continuity between the individual spaces.
The sofa is ideal for a narrow living room – it looks comfortable, but does not take over. “It’s all about scale and sofa style,” says Fiona. “We chose one of our most traditional sofas, the FBC London PAX sofa, because its clean lines allow it to almost blend into the space, it’s not an overbearing or overly large piece.”
The living room may seem quite large at first sight – its high ceilings and vast light give it a wonderful sense of sophistication – but there is a cosiness here. This is mainly due to the rounded shapes that Fiona used.
“The curved edges of FBC London pieces are designed to follow soft, flowing lines and evoke an understated elegance,” says Fiona. “It creates the perfect blend of luxurious aesthetic design and comfortable living space.”
The walls are covered in textured plaster, a trick any small living room can use to add a touch of sophistication.
The piece above the fireplace is the Aspectu mirror from FBC London. “Created through layers of a transparent semi-reflecting mirror with a scattering of gold leaf evoking elegance, the delicate nature of the mirror is deliberately brutalized using a bronze planed rod, which secures the different layers in place.” said Fiona. “A mirror designed to force a pause in reflection, play with the muscles of the eye and allow you to look beyond yourself.”
“The accent chairs in the living room are the FBC London Angelina Armchairs, one of my favorite pieces from the entire collection,” says Fiona. “I chose the fabric, which in person has a lovely luminescent, almost golden look, because it blends so well with the more neutral tones of the other pieces in the room. We needed a moment of color and the two chairs really ‘pop’ and provide a focal point as soon as you walk into the room.
The entrance has been widened to create a truly grand first impression, aided by the sheen of the hallway wallpaper. ‘It’s a suede textured wallpaper that adds a lot of warmth to the entrance,” says Fiona. “It’s something we wanted to add to make owners feel wrapped up and at home as soon as they walk in.
Above the bench in the entrance is a very modern piece of art. “It’s a beautiful piece of tapestry by a Lebanese artist – it’s one of my favorites because I love the 3D and the very textural impact it has,” says Fiona.
Fiona used every inch of the modern bedroom, creating a comfortable, almost enclosed space for the bed, hidden by a wall of storage. “The built-in storage is a bespoke design by FBC London, part of the Byethorne Collection,” says Fiona. ‘The material is a natural wood, Silky Oak. We added a whitewash on top to emphasize the soft undulations of the wood and create warm tones and soft textures.
The wallpaper helps to increase the feeling of light in the room, bouncing it around in space. “I love the dappled shimmer effect,” says Fiona.
The bedroom’s color scheme is a little creamier than the rest of the house, which leans more towards white elsewhere. “We used a slightly warmer neutral base in the master bedroom to draw people in,” says Fiona. “Soft, natural colors create an elegant, soothing space for comfort and relaxation.”
The modern bathroom just off the master bedroom is just as luxurious and well-designed as in the rest of the refit. By introducing a fluted textural element to the cabinetry, Fiona has created something that, instead of being overly stylish, is actually inviting and warm.
“I like marble with bold and dramatic veining, but then I recommend keeping the hardware and furniture and bathroom furniture fairly minimalist in the design so it doesn’t create an overly heavy feel.” said Fiona. “A bathroom should ultimately be a calming environment.”
In the attic on the top floor of the four-storey house is this charming guest bedroom. Its super sophisticated palette makes twin beds – usually for kids – unexpected. However, there was a reason for having two.
“I love this room because it’s at the top of the house and the eaves add such a cozy feeling to the space,” says Fiona. “It’s a guest room and the twin beds were to add flexibility so the room could be used by different guests as needed.”
The other guest bedroom is equipped with a double bed and lamps with beautiful ceramic bases. “The lamps were one of the most budget-friendly pieces we’ve chosen, but I love them!” Fiona says “The pattern evokes the uneven and varied layers of crystal.”
The house comes with its own cinema, located in the basement. Unlike the rest of the house, the media room is dark and cozy.
“The darker hues of the walls and floors in the movie theater create a cocooning effect,” says Fiona. “While providing the perfect backdrop for furniture and artwork that, in a darker setting, can only catch your eye.”
Of course, the narrow courtyard garden is just as refined as the rest of the decor. “All the pieces in the FBC London outdoor furniture collection have been designed to blend the boundaries between indoor and outdoor furniture,” says Fiona. “So most of the pieces started life as indoor pieces, which we then adapted with different finishes and upholstery to make them suitable for outdoor environments.”
Painting the garden wall white, in stark contrast to the brickwork of the house next door, is an equally luxurious design choice. “It gives the yard a fresh, summery vibe even when the sun isn’t shining directly on the space.” said Fiona. “When it comes to furniture, most of our FBC London outdoor pieces are upholstered in white and neutral colours, again giving the outdoor space a fresh feel. I never want our furniture to be overwhelmed or look too heavy or dark.
See more of Fiona’s work at Interiors by Fiona Barratt (opens in a new tab).