Situated a stone’s throw from Hyde Park in London is a 19th century flat which has been owned by a Kuwaiti family since 1972. Most recently, London-based interior design firm Nebihe Cihan Studio has revamped the pied-à-terre while preserving the original architraves, the crown moldings and corniches. The result? A seamless marriage between classic Victorian architecture and vibrant Parisian influences. “It was imperative to me, that I respected the history of the apartment and retained its charm,” says founder of the eponymous studio, Nebihe Cihan.
“When I first saw the apartment, I fell in love with the original parts and wanted to keep those elements and merge the old with the new. The hallway had so much potential so I really wanted to keep the old windows and the glass, whilst highlighting the area through the furnishings.”
The heritage of the space has been preserved while introducing modern elements, intertwining a chic vintage aesthetic with a contemporary twist. “In terms of design, I am not guided by trends but prefer a more modern yet classic style that transcends time,” explains Cihan. “However, it is still important to incorporate edgy elements, to elevate the timeless design.”
The space is home to an array of art pieces which have been sourced in collaboration with London-based art advisor-cum-curator Lawrence Van Hagen. “I love to use artwork to elevate the project and bring a different perspective,” expresses Cihan. “Lawrence has a very well-trained eye, and as a result, was immediately able to curate the right pieces.” Works by American artist Jules Olitski, Swiss artist Claudia Comte, LA-based Sterling Ruby and American artist Loie Hollowell are adorned on the walls.
Having always been passionate about vintage architecture, Cihan explains that for her, “old is gold. As soon as I walked in the flat, I fell in love with the old elements and character. I knew from the outset that I wanted to preserve the old architecture and the integrity.” Italian charm has been introduced through sleek Minotti furniture, with sophistication and functionality at its core.
“I like the modern look of Minotti furniture because it has a timeless elegance and is functional in terms of comfort, which is always pivotal for me,” says Cihan. “There is no point designing beautiful interiors, if they are not functional or the client cannot engage with them.” The mid-century modern furniture in jewel tones complements the gold, textured Namban design wallpaper by De Gournay displayed at the entrance. Italian marble has been custom-designed for the apartment, a testament to the family’s love for the material.
The coffee table is made using Macchia Vecchia, the dining table with Nero Marquina and the console table at the entryway with Paonazzo. “When I am designing, it is important to me that the décor also reflects the personality and the life of the client.”
The marble slabs have been handpicked from Verona and the woodwork has been executed in a factory in Bergamo, Italy. “For the centrepiece, I designed a custom console in Italian Paonazzo marble,” explains Cihan. “The idea was to keep the design feminine, therefore I used curvy lines and rounded edges when I designed the furniture.”
A highlight of the living room is the Poliedri glass chandelier in smokey grey and an emerald green Minotti sofa, which is complemented by the grey muted palette in the dining area. Noting inspiration from the owner’s travels and rich love for la Ville Lumière, the studio has furnished the space with French brands by the likes of Pierre Frey and Nobilis, featuring rich fabrics and traditional designs.
A warm colour palette has been introduced to permeate joy throughout the space and evoke memories. “I believe that warm colours evoke feelings of happiness, energy and optimism,” shares Cihan.
“I also think that some of the colours are more uplifting than others. Usually my design aesthetic revolves around neutral colours, however this was one of the first projects I designed where I experimented with a lot of colours. I firmly believe that colours can define one’s personality and mood, and therefore you have to be very thoughtful [about] how you use them. Having spent so much in the apartment throughout the project, I also studied the lighting. I was careful to choose a palette that was warm and calm, even when it is really grey outside, as is often the case with London!”
An interior view of the twin bedroom
Paying homage to the surrounding subdued London landscape, the bedrooms feature muted greys and taupes, with a De Gournay wallpaper comprising a Wisteria design and Murano purple table lamps, which Cihan collected from a vintage store in Brussels.
“I was really inspired by the client’s energy and her lifestyle when I was designing this project,” shares Cihan. “It is important that I achieve sophistication and an elegance in each project that I design.”
Images courtesy of Stephan Julliard