Polishing the Jewel

by Lili Li
03 Sep 2020

Luxury interior designer Katharine Pooley puts a London lateral apartment under bright lights.

Lateral flats are maintaining their popularity among buyers in the US and Europe. The reasons are quite obvious: As these units do away with stairs, landings, and corridors, they save space, improve, accessibility, and traffic. They also open up the entire area to views, light, and ventilation with their typical open-plan layouts.

Lateral flats often have the footprint of multi-storey townhouses, yet the square-footage spans just one level. Although they were often the result of tearing down walls between contiguous units, and redesigning them as one, a growing demand is seeing more newbuilds coming onto the market.

Such demand fuels an increase in prices, which in turn make them even more desirable.

This lateral apartment in London was designed by Katharine Pooley, one of the most sought-after interior designers in the UK today. It overlooks Hyde Park and perfectly illustrates how to make the most of a compact living space.

To create a spacious feel, Pooley added large light coloured artworks, polished nickel curtain poles, a pair of mirrors, and Murano glass and nickel chandeliers for a fresh contemporary interior.

The foyer is elegantly furnished with a twin console tables in mat finish. A pair of sleek sconces are mounted above these tables, echoing the Art Deco style glass and metal lamp at the centre of the room. Gleaming white floor, walls, and ceiling make the space appear larger and airier – thanks in part to the high ceiling.

A gleaming white corridor is lit up with a series of pin lights and decorated with a bold painting in a black frame. This last element is echoed in the inlay that traces the length of the floor space.

A portion of the living area features commodious furniture upholstered in pastel hues that are also present in the artwork above the fireplace, draperies, carpets, and pillows. Shiny metallic touches are introduced in the chandelier with glass globes, the legs of the coffee table, and the frames of pear-shaped mirrors flanking the fireplace.

Another grouping on the other side of the same room benefits from the tall windows that Pooley accentuated with columns of plush draperies. The same application of harmonious pastels pulls the room together and gives it a calm ambience.

Although the dining room is long and narrow, the absence of unnecessary furniture and furnishings gives it a lightness. On the wall is a large hexagonal mirror, which reflects the abstract painting on the opposite wall. Between this is a dining table for eight, with legs that are finished in demi-gloss. The window treatment – grey fabric columns — give the room an illusion of height, training the eyes upwards to the elegant suspended central lighting. Closer to the window, above a two-legged console table is a sculptural sconce light, its sharp geometric elements an intriguing contract to the spindly table legs.

For a smaller kitchen, Pooley kept all finishes chromatically similar by adding details and interest with architectural ironmongery such as bronze linear handles. She also added elongated furniture shapes with slender legs to add form without bulk in a narrow dining room. Polished plaster for walls, such as the use of white Italian stucco, are perfect for giving the feeling of more generous space.

The sleek, modern kitchen is dominated by an island that also serves as a breakfast table. Above the hob is a bank of wall hanging cabinets with clear glass doors that provide interest and depth to the space. A window above the sink is a source of natural light and views. There is ample storage all around in the cabinets fronted with doors fitted with long metal handles.

To create a spacious bedroom and pleasing symmetry to the eye, Pooley used a combination of crystal lamps and wall mirrors hung above each bedside table. Adding small details, including cushions, accessories in light colours, and reflective finishes in a bedroom can make a big difference.

An inviting king-size bed is installed in the bedroom. Its tufted headboard and matched stool at the foot of the bed pull together the assemblage of pale grey, pearl, and faint mauve accents all around. The symmetrical placement of a couple of night tables with pearlised drawers, and the whimsical octagonal mirrors above them anchor the entire room.

Pooley selected textured wallpaper over plain paint finishes for a petite guest bedroom as a silk wallpaper adds warmth and the subtle sheen will move the light around the space.

Pooley believes that a bijou apartment can seem wonderfully generous with the utmost care applied to its design.