Cover Vibrant furnishings liven up the formal living room

Designed by TR Studio, the pink facade of this striking home in London features a contrasting interior decorated with furnishings in jewel tones

Nestled along a quaint street in Chelsea, West London, lies a row of houses with their facades featuring a spectrum of pastel hues. This 19th-century mews house fits perfectly into the row with its dreamy pink exterior—an unusual feature given how London’s traditional mews structures typically boast traditional brick facades with cramped interiors. 

“The street is one of the most colourful streets in London and we took inspiration from that,” says Tom Rutt, director and founder of London-based architecture and interiors practice TR Studio. “We felt like we owed it to the surroundings to not do something muted, as this would have been against the grain. Together with our client, we invited the neighbours to comment on a few samples we had tested on the facade, as we wanted them to be part of the decision process.” They eventually decided on Cinder Rose, a soft and romantic pink hue from British paint brand Farrow & Ball.

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The home’s pastel pink facade is in contrast to the jewel tones on the furnishings within. Designed as a home away from home, the space is intended to be a pied-à-terre and entertaining space for the client to use during his weekday trips to London. “The design has to be very practical and functional,” says Rutt. “But it also has to provide that sense of the Chelsea experience, as the client’s main home was in the countryside.” 

The design team started by stripping the mews house to its bare brick structure and timber floor joists. The tight proporitons of the site typical of mews houses presented a practical challenge. “It was unusual as the house actually runs sideways once you enter the front door. Materials had to be carried) through the front of the property; being at the end of a row of mews houses, this also meant managing the disruption for our neighbours,” shares Rutt. 

The design has to be very practical and functional. But it also has to provide that sense of the Chelsea experience, as the client’s main home was in the countryside.
Tom Rutt, director and founder of TR Studio

Infusing personality into the original structure was paramount for the designer. “When we first started, there was no character at all in this space,” recalls Rutt. “We started by adding the appropriate period detailings such as skirtings, cornice, and panelling back into the space. Afterwards, we layered the home with a bespoke fireplace, various joinery, and a new classic staircase.”

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The home’s various textures and colours combine to form a soft and vibrant touch, brightening up the otherwise moody interior. Off the entrance, the formal living room features Gubi’s Stay lounge chairs that are upholstered in jewel tones. A bespoke sofa created by the studio alongside London-based sustainable design practice Dodds & Shute completes the colourful seating arrangement that stands out against the neutral backdrop. The sleek marble fireplace, accompanied by the luxe coffee table, adds a modern and elegant touch to the space. 

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A cosy gathering nook is formed with a pair of Cassina 637 Utrecht armchairs designed by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld and a colourful pouf, arranged next to a bespoke drinks cabinet. Crafted from charcoal black routed timber with curved edges, the bar cabinet houses prized bottles owned by the client, who is a wine connoisseur and audiophile. 

The staircase, featuring a sweeping curved handrail, leads down to the second living room as well as a spacious open-plan kitchen and dining area. As the original structure was compact and didn’t offer sufficient height space, the lower ground floor had to be excavated by the team. Lowering the floor level by 70cm created a loftier space compared to the previously small and warren-like layout.  

The informal living room is an alternate communal space for the homeowner and his family to gather. The Cassina MyWorld sofa designed by Philipe Starck forms an inviting space for the family to lounge, relax and bond. The homely retreat is based on a unique backdrop featuring terracotta panelling, one of the team’s favourite elements in the project.

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“The lower ground floor is a long, open plan space,” says Rutt. “It’s important to create variation and rhythm. In this instance, we adopted a modern approach to the panelling and created a grid of timber battens. Once painted, it creates visual interest and became a feature within the room.” To ensure visual continuity and to add a surprise factor, the entrance to the guest bathroom, a chic space created from Medi black marble, is hidden within the panelling. 

The open-plan kitchen and dining area sits on a previous under-utilised courtyard that was converted to become part of the internal lower ground floor area. A large glass skylight that can be opened floods the space with natural daylight and ventilation. “The large glazed roof over the kitchen feels very open, and suited our client’s needs more than a walled courtyard would have,” notes Rutt. “When viewed from the staircase, the light at the end of the room really draws the eye to the space and give it a sense of openness that you wouldn’t ordinarily find within a basement setting.” 

The kitchen, a DeVol design by British designer-craftsman Sebastian Cox, extends the home’s contemporary and timeless feel. It's paired with black-stained beech cabinetry, a marble backsplash and copper worktop—together, the material combination brings a chic and modern charm to the space. A mint green wall cabinet offers additional storage. 

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Encouraged by the client’s preference for colourful interiors, the bright palette continues on throughout the home. Upstairs, the homeowner’s favourite hue—purple—was used as the primary colour in the study. Meanwhile, the master bedroom features several tones of green, a soothing shade that was taken “to the limit with the walls, ceiling and headboard”. Rutt explains: “We find that if you’re going to (bring) colour into a room, being bold is the best strategy; really commit to it where you can, and don’t be afraid of going the whole hog.”

The green linen wallpaper adds a tactile touch to the room. So does the dark velvet headboard, which was custom-made for the bed that’s flanked by Sebastian Herkner’s La Chance Salute side tables that feature a green marble base and a black tray top. The bespoke slate fireplace and vaulted ceiling amps up the room's dramatic impact.

“Overall, our favourite design elements for this house were the injection of colour, material and texture,” reflects Rutt. “The staircase also really helped to open up the space yet tie it together at the same time.”

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When quizzed about the best part of the project, Rutt highlights the team's close working relationship with the homeowner. “We had a very engaging and understanding client who gave clear and direct feedback, which helped greatly; this close working relationship allowed us to deliver a home they were seeking whilst adding design elements that make it truly personal and characterful,” he says. “ The entertaining spaces are enjoyed very much, which was the intention. The open-plan layouts and gathering spaces are the areas where we feel that this refurbishment has been very successful.”

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