Add drama to a dressing room!

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Dramatic & Dark Dressing Room

This sumptuous, traditional and yet contemporary walk in dressing room was created for a client in Somerset, located on the outskirts of a village in a period property. As well as being a luxurious ‘film star’s’ retreat, this room was to be designed as a multipurpose, functional yet decadent space. The client’s brief was that the room should incorporate the style of the existing property and décor; it should utilize the space and provide maximum storage, whilst leaving enough room to walk around in (a walk in dressing room that you can’t walk in, is after all, simply a closet!). Initially, I asked the client to list their belongings, so that a space could be allocated for each individual collection. To my surprise there was quite a list; from sports bags, cricket gear, ski equipment to evening attire and handbags; through to jewellery, cosmetics, suitcases, socks and handkerchiefs. This was a huge task! Initially the space was split into three individual rooms; a small bedroom, an en-suite and a small closet. My task was to knock through these three rooms and make one large en-suite and one stunning dressing room.

Having carefully planned the space I discussed the design proposal to my client, we made sure that every area was carefully considered; we checked the dimensions of suitcases and large items to make sure that they had their own ‘space’ and that everything was easily accessible - how practical is a storage solution that necessitates moving everything you own to get to the back of a cupboard?

Once the build got on the way we came upon our first problem: a change in floor levels and head heights between the three rooms. Because we had maximized the space, I had to revisit the layout and adjust the overall design accordingly. The builders cleverly evened out the floor and ceiling and then work progressed smoothly.

The wardrobes were made of solid oak and then stained dark to ensure that the period look was achieved and we used antique brushed brass for the hardware and the ladder rail. Bespoke lighting was used to highlight the mirrored shoe rack and internal cabinets. A central pendant light was commissioned to be the centrepiece of the room and we fitted a super soft and thick silver carpet to the floor. The wardrobes ran around the perimeter of the room and central to this was a large and beautiful dressing table, which housed electrics for hairdryers and USB ports for mobile devices.

Whilst the wardrobes were being made up in the work- shop, the electrics, plumbing and decoration were being completed; under floor heating was fitted together with acoustic underlay. In projects like this it is important to think about access and how the furniture will be constructed. In this case the large unit were constructed in situ and other pieces were brought in whole. Once everything had been installed, the cornicing was fitted the electrics were connected and tested. Wow, there was just the slate worktop to be fitted and then the carpet! The overall look was so luxurious and dramatic and thankfully everything fitted…not that I doubted myself, but you do have moments of panic!

This design was personally tailored to the client’s individual requirements and I am glad to say that they are completely over the moon with the final result. As a busy couple, they don’t need to worry where to find or look for anything, everything has its own individual space, saving them valued and precious time and, perhaps more importantly to me, form and function work together seamlessly. 

Soft and snug and so so cosy.

At this time of year the spring can feel a long way off and most of us want our homes to be somewhere to hibernate…soft and snug and so so cosy.  Create instant warmth and welcome at your threshold by placing a vase of rich coloured berries in the hallway, think quintessential English winter.

The trend at the moment is for warm and dark colours - soft greys; masculine, enveloping but never harsh are a bold move for your walls.  I know that not everybody wants to take the plunge with dark paint and people often ask me how they can bring their interior up to date without resorting to complete refurbishment.  I love to create an inviting space with plenty of soft furnishings – a room in winter without an assortment of throws, rugs, cushions and blankets can be a difficult place to really nestle into.  Add a throw over a chair and another on the sofa.  Use a variety of textures – chunky knits, wools, sumptuous silks and soft velvets work gorgeously together and can make even a cool, airy room feel like a winter sanctuary.

Ambient lighting is so important in the dark British winter but you are not looking to chase the darkness away, more ‘warm it up’ – do this easily and effectively by lighting candles around the fireplace, using lamps rather than overhead lighting.  You can add to the overall effect of warmth with accents of deep jewel colours such as ruby red, saffron, inky blues and green.  Don’t be afraid to mix patterns together to create a beautiful mix of rustic richness – if you can excuse the contradiction in terms…

You can continue that lovely cosy feel throughout your home; add a touch of chic to the bathroom by adding chunky grey towels and bath mats.  Luxurious scented candles are well placed in the bathroom – where better to re-imagine a Nordic spa?  You can create a rustic ski lodge feel by storing towels in wicker baskets – a great solution for those of us short on storage as well as being a stylish addition to the smallest room.

The great thing about using soft furnishings as an integral part of your design scheme is that you can change them with the seasons, or as it suits you without having to spend a fortune.  It doesn’t all have to be high end stuff either, trawling the flea markets is loads of fun and with the likes of Kirstie Alsop et al to teach us the difference between tat and treasure, you might even pick up something collectable for a bargain. 

If you are thinking of investing in something a bit more permanent like a sofa or a sideboard, take your time in choosing.  Don’t be scared to get something bold or ‘mismatch’ - you can use your fabrics and smaller pieces to tie your look together.  Opt for soft tactile fabrics on upholstered chairs and sofas and contrast all this ‘touch me’ stuff with a solid, dark sideboard or console table.  When you choose pieces that you love, yes, you might spend a bit more but you will find you are far less likely to want to replace them in the future (not to mention less likely to need to) and also you create a room with wow factor – a place which represents you and a place which can be your very own boutique retreat.