Transformation of a Knightsbridge terrace to provide a home for a family and their large art collection.
The Knightsbridge area of west London has a surprisingly diverse urban landscape, ranging in scale from the vast museums and concert halls of ‘Albertopolis’ to more modest mews and residential terraces such as Fairholt Street. Another notable feature of this area is a cluster of studio-houses, originally built in the nineteenth century for a new generation of society artists to create and exhibit their work. In a reflection of this tradition, Orms’ client for the transformation of this quaint house wanted to create a contemporary yet comfortable family home, but also an appropriate setting for an extensive art collection.
The art pieces were an important cue for Orms’ design, with paintings and sculptures chosen early on for each of the main spaces and the design then developed around them. A ‘white cube’ gallery effect is avoided by introducing warmth through natural materials and rich textures, while a carefully considered colour palette helps to define progression from the public areas (kitchen and dining room) through to the more private spaces of the bedrooms above. A key change was to give a greater sense of space by creating a larger basement and reducing the changes in level at ground floor. Here, a new feature stair wraps around a central lacquered spine, with support spaces located off the stair landings to provide storage whilst still retaining a feeling of openness.