Character Building23 March 2020
For some designers, it would be a pretty daunting task to renovate and restore a stunning yet run-down five-storey Grade II listed townhouse in London’s Mayfair. But for Lisa Schiller and the team at Schiller Beynon Interior Design its beautiful original features and the history behind them were all the incentives they needed. ‘The house required a substantial makeover,’ explains Lisa. ‘Having not been lived in for many years, our task was to prepare it ready for the rental market.’
Working closely with Shape London Architects the Schiller Beynon team began by completely reconfiguring the floor plans to modernise the property while preserving the impressive formal rooms and a listed sweeping staircase that wound its way up and over three of the five floors. New additions included a roof terrace with wide-reaching rooftop views of London as well as a rear courtyard decked in Artisans of Devizes’ Wychwood stone.
In fact, Lisa and her team chose Artisans of Devizes for the stone and tile in the kitchen and bathrooms too. ‘The brief was to completely renovate the house,’ adds Lisa. ‘To create a home with the feel of understated luxury. Our client was keen to embrace the original features in the formal rooms and make other spaces, such as the lower ground and upper floors, more contemporary in layout and design to meet the needs of modern life.’
This included creating an open-plan kitchen along with a large, spacious master bathroom suite. They also reconfigured a series of awkward attic rooms to create usable spaces with en-suites. ‘Ultimately the client was looking for a timeless design that would embrace natural yet luxurious features, creating the wow factor for potential tenants,’ says Lisa.
The obvious choice was to be natural stone throughout. Lisa and her team were keen to make sure the flooring and materials they used carried provenance and history, giving the impression of being laid many years ago rather than offering a brand new look. ‘Arguably some of the most impressive stonework was featured in the new master bathroom,” reveals Lisa, ‘where we worked closely with Artisans of Devizes to clad the walls and floor with book-matched natural marble stone slabs and create a bespoke vanity cabinet. We took the marble slabs to three quarters of the height of the room and finished it with a bronze trim and paint above. We worked together to manage edge finishes and the start and stop points for the natural stone patterns and successfully created something totally luxurious.’
In the kitchen, the team used Zofia limestone for the flooring but rather than laying standard tiles, Lisa worked with Artisans of Devizes to create slim formats that could be laid in a herringbone design, adding both interest and an on-trend look.
For the lower ground floor, hallways were furnished with Concordia and Domus marbles. Again, Lisa and her team worked with Artisans of Devizes to create an inset slim border using the darker Domus marble, a striking contrast to the polished Concordia marble used for the main part of the floor.
‘Elsewhere in the property we selected some of Artisans of Devizes’ more intricate marbles to create a point of interest,’ says Lisa. ‘One of our favourites was Tokyo Lattice marble mosaic, an interesting marble design for the floor featuring dark warm tones that worked beautifully as a contrast against our near black textured wallpaper on the walls. The intricate design and depth of colours gave the small space impact.’
Last but not least, the new loft bathrooms feature Waldorf Papyrus limestone tiles. In one of the rooms, they applied the tiles in a herringbone format with the natural lines and markings in the stone creating interest.
‘Artisans of Devizes were true artisans and worked over every detail with us,’ adds Lisa. ‘Even on such a large project with so much interest on every surface, the eye still picks out small details such as the edge profiles on vanity surfaces. It’s these details that make a difference and really matter.’
It certainly is a challenge, renovating a Grade II listed property, as you not only need to preserve its original features but you must also balance that with the needs of modern living, which in this case included installing air conditioning and integrated sound systems with full height panelling. Yet it is always the floor and wall finish that remain key aspects of any renovation project. ‘Paint, paper and soft furnishings will normally be updated long before a stone floor is replaced,’ explains Lisa. ‘These are the all-important foundations for any scheme. We have been sourcing stone from Artisans of Devizes for years because the products are great quality and there is an interesting and substantial range of natural stone products. Increasingly we are looking at their porcelain and other ranges too. The team always endeavour to help as much as able, caring about the finished product as much as we do.’
It is this care and attention from each and every expert who has worked on the stunning five-storey property, that has given it back its heritage while turning this house into a home.