Name: Almas Shamsee
Location: Shad Thames, London, United Kingdom
Size: 1400 sq feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned
Interior designer Almas shares this minimal and glamorous home, located within walking distance of the iconic Tower Bridge, with her husband and their 3-year-old son. The couple renovated the 2-bedroom apartment after realizing that they didn't want to give up their urban lifestyle, despite having long assumed that starting a family meant they'd buy a house in one of London's leafy suburbs — "you know, like normal people!" Almas laughs.
Instead, their two-bedroom home was given a modern facelift to Almas' exacting specifications; the kitchen, bathrooms, flooring, radiators, and even the doors were replaced with clean, contemporary choices. Close attention was also paid to lighting the space, from the LED track lights above the curtains, to the stunning shade-and-crystal pendants in the dining room and the floor lights around the tub in the sparkling master bathroom.
However, it's the glass-fronted mezzanine which is the most successful element in the space, taking advantage of the double-height ceilings and carving out extra work space for Almas, and play space for her son. Getting permission to build this addition was a job in itself: the managing agents of the building wanted a guarantee from the builders that it wouldn't damage the fabric of the building, which in the absence of the original structural drawings, was impossible to prove. Convinced that the mezzanine was integral to her design, Almas began a search for these plans, culminating in the dusty basement of the building's original structural engineering company (which had since changed names), where she studied microfiche film for hours, finally locating the plans which meant the mezzanine floor could become a reality.
After spending all that energy (along with the better part of her budget) on the structural works, fixtures and lighting in the space, Almas decorated simply and cost-effectively. Dark woods, strong shapes and pops of bright color make this a delightfully pared-down, modern family home.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Contemporary, relaxed elegance.
Inspiration: I am of Asian origin, born and raised in Africa, trained and currently living in London. Travel is an amazing source of inspiration for all my designs. I love spaces that feel simple and uncluttered but have flashes of bright colour.
Favorite Element: The high ceilings, big windows and unusual layout of the flat.
Biggest Challenge: The layout of the flat when I first bought it. Aside from being tired and dated, none of the areas in the apartment 'worked'. I pretty much had the flat reduced to a shell and started again. The high ceiling presented an amazing opportunity to create a mezzanine floor that runs the length of the flat. Getting permission to build this was a nightmare!
What Friends Say: Most people are surprised by how big the apartment feels — especially when they come in to the open plan living space.
Biggest Embarrassment: My wardrobe. Behind the beautiful Japanese inspired wardrobe doors is a mess!!
Proudest DIY: Since so much of the renovation involved major construction, we didn't do much ourselves aside from assembling the bookshelf on the mezzanine floor... it's still standing!
Biggest Indulgence: Two large lights from CTO in the living room... they cost a fortune but make the room!
Best Advice: If you want to do something be persistent and don't give up....I always believed in the mezzanine floor and had I given up on the idea I would have always wondered how much better the apartment would have been if we could have built it.
Dream Sources: CTO Lighting, the Pier, Designers Guild.
Resources of Note:
• Sofa and chair: Dwell
• Cushions: Designers Guild
• TV cabinet: Internet retailer
• Pendant lights: CTO Lighting
• Dining table: Frances Hunt
• Chairs: Next
• Kitchen units: Pronorm
• Appliances: Seimens
• Desk, shelf and coffee table: Dwell
• Chairs and sofa bed: John Lewis
• Chaise lounge: Laura Ashley
• Lamp: Next
• Bed, side tables, chest of drawers: The Pier
• Chair: Next
• Lamps: Porta Romana
• Painting: Caroline Ashwood
• Wardrobes: Bespoke, by The Closet Company
• Fittings: Hansgrohe and Duravit
• Tiles: Urban Chic
Images: Eleanor Büsing
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