a north oxford house

Drawing room and dining room >

In this drawing room (a proper, first floor affair) light and the huge windows are all. We wanted to create a design that played with formal traditional drawing room style, and messed about with it, adding colour and fun. A huge element of the room is the floor to ceiling shelving structure, which is constructed from ash with an ebonised hardwood that delineates and configures the structure. This was designed to house various elements including books, objects, TV and media and a stereo with space for cd's. This was a one-off item which we created for the client. It holds your attention and commands the space that it lies in. There is an almost art deco feel to it, with the dark and light woods and polished finish.

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detail of shelving

The sofas were sourced from Fran at Liscious Interiors, and re-upholstered in striking fabrics in soft brushes cotton. The colours reflected the dining space but lifted and lightened. The Chesterfield grey sofa has a purple running through it and we applied very bright violet buttons to the piece and dressed with lime accents. The lime - or chartreuse - Chesterfield was very simply dressed and as such we reversed the colour works and had predominantly purple striped cushions in a deep velvet. 

A small day bed wrapped in a defined purple inhabits a space close to the book shelves and near to the distinctive sash windows.

A  balance between privacy and letting the light through was achieved by way of full length linen curtains with a silk floral motif running through, and a sheer roman blind that drops down (colourfully) to frost out the background, again in natural linen but with colourful stripes.

We strongly felt that this huge space did not need a central ceiling light, but to light the space with

soft accent lighting at lower level would create better intimacy and harmony in an evening. The Alega glass table lamps (designed by

Vico Magistretti

in 1970) sits on Platner side tables, each a stainless steel spoke framework with a glass top created by

Warren Platne

r for Knoll in the 1960's. 

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Platner side table with Alega lamp

The beautiful carrera marble fireplace is a focal point, its gas fire supplementing the classicv column radiators (in anthracite) we put in, and the alcoves either side are wallpapered with a fantastic

Jocelyn Warner

design. Period chairs were limed and re-upholstered in a funky silk, and an

Elizabeth Blackadder

piece catches the eye above the fire.

Dining Space >

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glass table reflecting the window

Previous to its present incarnation, this was a jumbled space, cold and dark and possibly with mixed use. In its present form we decided to change shape a little. Keeping the 'hand made element' we made something a little more formal i.e  an evening dining space for guests.

Our client wanted a dark, intimate and rich palette, but with linking colour from the drawing room next door. Assisted by our client the colour we chose was a plum colour, in a proper flat matte, not cold. It sits more in the red spectrum. This gives it a deep lushness that with the addition of evening candle light, brings in a grandiose quality.

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Of the candelabra; it is hand crafted by French makers

Benoit Vieubled

and acquired through

Cameron Peters Fine Lighting

. Its artisan qualities shine out. Made from brass and copper and french glass yoghurt jars and crystals. It was further modified by myself with deft assistance by the owner, converting it from electrical to hold candles. Furthermore, it hangs by sash cord which is fixed via a pulley system and tied off near the dumb waiter. This allows the piece to be raised and lowered when necessary. Secondary lighting is via the picture lights overhanging the inherited pieces of our client.

On first entering the room from the hallway it becomes obvious that the dumb waiter is no longer functioning. Due to modifications in the past it had become a non viable restoration project. This left us with the awkward shape in the corner! As the owner wished to house some of his wine collection we decided that the best purpose of the woodwork was to turn it into a wine rack. I think this works especially well and looks rather neat and perfect as well as being architectural and fun.

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wine storage

The carrera marble fireplace needed extensive cleaning to the marble to bring it up to a gleam. The hearth was simply of limed concrete and as such was painted black. A writing bureau, hand painted by Maitre Allegre now sits in the alcove closest to the window.

A collage of mirrors that we collected from a host of places hang in a pattern above the fireplace.

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detail of candelabra with mirrors behind

Under foot, the carpet is a fine boucle in a light grey that adds a level of luxury to the rooms. It runs through the dining and lounge space and spills on through the hallway and staircase.

Below is a picture of the hallway with the dining space chimney wall framed in the antique mirror.

colourful tiles- a North Oxford house: Living room

We worked in this area along side the kitchen (see north oxford house: kitchen) area.

It is a wonderful room with lovely aspects to all sides; the double doors linking to the kitchen, a beautiful fireplace, huge windows to one wall and double glass doors to the front garden. There are privacy shutters and the light enters the room in really pleasurable way. 

lounge view with duncan grant tiles set into the fireplace

It was very exciting to continue with the themes that we set up in the kitchen and utilise them in a different way. This project was all about a modern take on the arts and crafts movement; taking traditional ideas about handcrafting and applying modern techniques and designs. We attempted to make no single item stand out, but make sure that alll the items within had uniqueness. The flooring from kitchen continued with white oil wax throughout. The application of the oil wax is a very time consuming process that requires a lot of attention and many layers are required over virgin wood. At the heart of the room is the 'Arne' sofa by BB Italia, its almost 3m long and strikingly curved. We didn't want the formality of the kitchen area to impede and direct the shape and function of the lounge and so to break free from the restraints of linear sofas (which tend to inhabit the area along a wall!) we plumped for this sofa with its gentle curves and low profile, so as not to restrict the views outside. The fireplace has vibrant hand-painted Duncan Grant tiles set in - an interesting and quirky contrast of highly traditional grand carrera marble and rustic art and crafts most likely dating from the early '20s and injecting a little bit of Charleston to the house. Around the fireplace - we constructed units that have carved panels for frontage. The images I conceived as small narratives, where nature and industry are intermingled in some way. A bird flys by electrical wires or a tree grows up through a broken, abandoned chair. The units were sprayed green to co-incide with the kitchen colours, both symbolise the power of nature to overcome industrial adversity.

In front of the sofa; a wonderful commissioned piece by Amy Kent. A handmade rug designed around lines and shadows in pavements.




the lefthand unit; 'silver birch'

sparrow about to land (detail)


A fascinating detail, the legacy of the old house were the victorian servant bell pulls, visible immediately next to the Carrera marble fireplace.

Along the line of the cornice we again brought through the Album system of lighting i.e. suspended cables that extend from one side to the other with lighting modules positioned as required.

detail of one of the light module


There was a real emphasis on lighting - whilst the suspended Album lighting was dimmable, floor and table lamps were used to create task and gentler lighting. The lamp that you see in the main image above is the Secto floor lamp by finnish designer Seppo Koho.

Shelving in the shapeof English Walnut (unplaned), still with a sawn appearance and with waney edge was used to mount the electronics. 


A mural in the reverse tonal range was created on the closing full height panels, representing helibores. We painted the mural on the walls behind the shutters, so that when they are open, the effect is somewhat abstract; when the doors are closed, the picture becomes complete.



Above one of the walnut units (left in picture) we framed a marimekko fabric image for the owner. The style slotted in rather well. More marimekko fabric appears on the sofa cushions which we created. The addition of random vintage buttons to the cushions adds extra interest.





















































All in all the scheme has some amazing features that sit well in this natural, artistic environment.