Purity in the West
As Featured in Tatler Interiors Magazine
If we accept that the starting ingredients for a successful interior include earliest possible involvement of an interior designer and a fluid communication with a client, then this house in the west of the province got off to a very good start. Annan Interiors were consulted well prior to planning application enabling their overview input to help evolve the actual room relationships in terms of the interior. This was aided by the fact that as interior designers they had a previous working relationship with both the client and award-winning architects Keys and Monaghan, Quantity Surveying by Stanley McFarland. The house of beautiful fabrics and iPad controlled heating and lighting was a long way away at that stage but a continual consultative process had begun which proved to be vital in achieving a very personal family home which had to take on board busy lives, hobbies and pets not to mention a taste for a very pure, restrained interior. The fact of the matter is an interior which holds to an ethos of simplicity and restraint is very unforgiving when it comes to architectural and interior detailing and requires good builders and trades people to give justice to such a design. The pursuit of the right companies and people can only come to fruition if the budget can withstand it and the key players exercise good management. This coming together worked very well on this project and daily site visits by the client (whose previous home was nearby) helped reduce any potential friction over interpretation on how things were to be done.
The flow of spaces and room use
Upon entering the front doors through a glazed lobby one is greeted by the double height space of the entrance hall which is also the dining area and a powerful axis is set up with the centre of the tiles aligning with the centre of the double doors and centre of the 2.2 metre diameter dining table. The basis of the simple plan is that this area is at the bottom of a ‘U’ shape; – kitchen, utility, breakfast room and family to the right with bedrooms above and living, garden room and cinema room to the left with bedrooms above. This then encloses in the middle an exterior rear courtyard which on a practical day could be airing clothes and on a socialising day be shelter for a BBQ. The main impact of this layout plan though is that throughout the home one is always near natural light – at times viewable all the way through and highlighted by the fact that almost every window including those on the first floor is to floor level. This very European light and airy feel is a key backdrop for the type of interior favoured by the client and mastered by Annan Interiors.
Selections and Implementation of the Interiors
A lighting design layout by the interior designers which ratified the basic interior plan was the first move on the finally agreed space plan. A series of visits was then set up to review the very best on offer of sanitary ware and tiles and Beggs & Partners and David Scott Tiles were chosen respectively. Premier Windows’ hi-spec De Carlo Windows did have an influence of warmth in that the interior side was of Natural Oak.
A house of this size most certainly warranted home automation of at least some level and Future Control were selected from the many available, initially for a cinema room but ultimately their control systems were successfully installed to plan for lighting dimming, heating, alarm and exterior camera control.
The steady hand of main contractor T Chambers & Sons brought with them Thomas Hanna & Co as plumbers who offered Jaga Trench recessed flush with floor radiators to the larger glazed screens of the garden and breakfast rooms as well as colour co-ordinated space-saving Zehnder RZ vertical radiators throughout the first floors. Needless to say ceramic tiles which are throughout most of the ground floor are a perfect conductor for the Uponor under floor heating. This was supported by inconspicuously positioned adjustable Kingspan Solar panels. Architects Keys & Monaghan also specified all exterior walls to have additional insulation and plasterboard affixed to the interior side to increase efficiency – and to frustrate picture hangers!
An engineered wide board Nat Oak flooring from Trunk Flooring matching the window frames was installed in the garden room and first floor guest bedroom since walking in from the outdoor garden and balcony in these locations will be highly likely. There were of course other major building elements which would have a big influence on the interior such as the doors prior to the ‘nice bit’ of soft furnishing and furniture selections. In the past doors which had contrasting grain directions of vertical styles to main body would have been totally custom but now an excellent selection of ‘La Puerta’ contemporary doors like this is readily available from Doorways (Moffett & Thallon) Belfast, with compatible non-fussy stainless steel iron-mongery.
The architect and interior designer worked together on a stairs design which resulted in an opportunity for tiler Ryan Hosick to excel – which he did. The glazed guarding to the stairs was minimal and together with the steel structure was expertly produced and installed by Top-Glass who also provided the unframed glazed guarding to the first floor exterior balconies to the main and guest bedrooms as well as the bespoke large frosted screen behind the bath denoting the wet room.
The double height space of the back wall at the main stairs is made even more dynamic by strip mosaic full height tiling cut from the Marmi Di Rex Porcelain tile from David Scott in colour finish marble grey. The floor tile was also used all the way round on the risers and treads of the stairs giving a solid marble block effect. The 60 x 60 cm Rex tile was then continued on the first floor landing and halls right to the bedroom doors where the most beautiful double-weave mushroomy-grey Munster carpet took over as floor covering.
This change of flooring was replicated by a change of heating to radiators from under floor which is naturally not as efficient when trying to operate through carpet. All five bedrooms on the first floor have ensuites but only the main bedroom has a bath which was actually a client decision as a result of merging an en-suite and separate bathroom at the planning stage.
The resultant larger scale en-suite to the main bedroom gave justice to the Napoli bath highlighted by both in-floor uplighters and the backdrop of the frosted shower screen.
The main bedroom en-suite wall tiling was a fabulous 120 x 60 cm Pallisandro Marble tile punctuated with mosaic skirting and wet-room floor cut from the same tile. Wall mounted taps over matching twin Napoli basins on a Natural Oak bench provided practicality. Crucially, down time in the bath could be enjoyed with only LED floor uplighting. Dinner guests using the ground floor bathroom will experience not only glass floor mosaic but a useful bench top and a perfectly illuminated mirror. The restrainment in the scheme generally throughout the house was given the right backdrop with unifying antique white painted walls, architraves and skirting with the same carpet in all the bedrooms and only critically selected coloured walls as accents.
Beggs & Partners technical support proved essential in providing advance information for crucial dimensions of wall mounted wash-basins with storage since no two were the same and they also provided a template for the bath enabling precise positioning of floor lights to highlight it, all avoiding unplanned tile patching. They also facilitated later timing for the ordering of all wet room shower screens so that the drain gullies, floor falls and tiling could be completed first, allowing optimum sizes for screens to be established in reality.
Supplied by Annan Interiors to their own plan the lighting not only had an effective choice of circuits for mood setting but had an inspiring variety in the combination of down lighting, wall lighting and feature pendants all dimmable (including the LED and other low energy fittings) via the touch panel located where a normal light switch would be at the entrance of each room. Only after the bedside lockers were positioned could the cigar-like Foscarini pendants be positioned over them in the main bedroom and these were complimented by an Artemide wall and centre pendant.
All down lights were 9W LED crucially in warm white and the extravagance of Halogen was permitted for the feature pendant in the entrance hall which is truly a modern-day chandelier with its twists of clear glass in a 115 cm sphere.
A slightly more formal look in the living room was achieved with Sedap Plaster wall and centre uplighters, whereas the kitchen was illuminated with Deltalight frameless recessed Grid-In triple spot lamps providing maximum adjustment since they are both rotatable and tiltable. Just a little LED highlighting was added here which when switched on alone was perfect for making a quick coffee or passing through.
Supplied and fitted by McGovern Kitchens, Derrylin, this was for a client who is a prolific cook and baker and was not going to be whood by ‘flashy’ exuberant details. A bank of ovens, micro, steam oven and warming drawers were backed by a walnut panel and along with strong walnut verticals flanking the fridge and larder contrasted and warmed the grey handleless fronts of the main drawers. A bold off-white Corian top to a very plain island provided cleanliness in colour and form to a practical centrepiece. The extractor by Guntmann is completely flush and silent due to the wall-cavity mounted motor. A bespoke frosted glass top mounted to the wall at the corner where breakfast room meets the kitchen forms a perfect merge from working kitchen to social space.
Arrival at this point in the project was most certainly not going to be a rushed experience of arbitrary shopping, indeed the client has had substantial experience with very considered choices for their previous home and was very clued-in to what would work well within the architecture and subdued palette of the now already purist interior.
The wealth of experience of Annan Interiors in this area combined with its very strong contacts with the cream of Europe’s design-led brands made this journey one of clear direction – really an extension of the convictions which had already advised and selected the tiling, sanitary ware and lighting.
Positive previous experiences of Interlubke wardrobes and beds by the client took the lead in this area and to the millimetre wardrobes were planned in with each family member’s requirements taken into account in terms of wardrobe interiors or boldness or calmness of colour respectively.
Apart from illuminated interior shelves, tie racks and mirrors the storage resolution in the main bedroom included a multi-purpose unit in a shallower depth to suit a reveal behind the door and it contained shoe racks, pegs, open shelving and a full height dressing mirror all in one compact functional unit.
As a sister company to Interlubke the German company Cor was chosen for a high quality solution to seating throughout the family room, breakfast room and living room where the Conseta programme allowed tweaking of sizes to suit. A pair of Cor Circo chairs in green fabric is an attractive retreat in the garden room.
In that the dining hall demanded a more grand if not avant-garde style of furniture Giorgetti of Italy was a strong answer in walnut with a special size 2.2 metre diameter Ivi table. This was supported by the Giorgetti low sideboard for all things necessary for fine dining and a Giorgetti Nyn corner cabinet reminiscent of an architectural building. In the living room a large Giorgetti wall cabinet with glass shelves and integral lighting is a grand yet practical backdrop to the writing desk, Cor sofas and armchairs.
The result of the combinations provide a wood touchy-feely warmth and boldness in the hall and living room and in general very simple, more calm forms in the bedrooms. The main bedroom however interestingly combines a rich Bordeaux lacquer clad in fine walnut surrounds for the bedside units and large chest of drawers all with touch-opening drawers. A deep purply-brown colour was used on the cinema room walls taken from curtains of the same colour and together with the heavy bass of 3-D sound adds to the drama.
Day-time privacy can be achieved with the 1-way vision of the Silent Gliss Triscreen Roller blinds of large proportions to suit the breakfast room and garden room windows. These blinds also prevent ‘bleaching’ of the wooden floor and upholstery in the garden room. Having only lived in the home for a few months the family are of course still responding to gaps in accessorising and in some cases furnishing as the need arises – perhaps almost as if they don’t want their journey of design to end.