Throughout my career whatever job I was doing I always had a reputation for ‘getting stuff done’. And as an interior designer I continue to focus on doing things right, doing them on time, and always on or under budget. I am also a tad competitive (possibly the worlds greatest understatement…) So when the owner of the John Dalton Building in Cockermouth set me the challenge of turning one of their new apartments into a show home in just 4 weeks I set myself the goal of doing it in 3, and I did. So who is up for an exclusive sneak preview before open house this weekend?
The Show Home Design Brief
This was simple. This is your budget. Do it quickly. Make it look spot on, which is Cumbrian for great. My kinda brief.
My customer has built ten 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments in the centre of Cockermouth. They’re on a back street very handy for The Coffee Kitchen (delicious coffee and brownies), and away from any noise from traffic or rowdy locals leaving the pub on a Friday night. They’re really spacious, and the best bit is they’re on two floors so they feel like houses not flats. The price, size and location means they should appeal to a wide audience – singles, couples or families, professionals or retirees, and they’d make great holiday lets too. Which creates a bit of a quandary from a design perspective – what look do you go for?
If I’m out and about and see a new development I often go for a nosy around the show home just out of professional curiosity. But I nearly always leave thinking they look nice but wondering who the look is going to appeal to.
Obviously whatever look you go for, you will have people that love it and people that don’t. So I decided just to pick what I thought was the most likely buying group, young professionals, and focus on designing a show home that would appeal to them.
The style is simple but smart, and contemporary without being too in your face bang on trend. The living/dining space has a midcentury slightly retro feel to it, with the bedrooms being a little more luxurious. Although I’ve used grey as the primary colour throughout there are pops of colour in every room that makes each one unique.
The Final Reveal
So wipe your feet and come on in…..
The entrance hall
When I arrived this apartment was magnolia central. So we started by repainting everywhere one colour, Chic Shadow by Dulux. Grey is a much more contemporary neutral that goes with just about everything. And although using different colours is a great way to break up a space using predominantly one colour throughout makes this space flow. I’ve used Chic Shadow a few times as it’s dark enough enough to be noticeable but not too dark to put off anyone who likes lighter interiors.
The Living Dining Space
The open plan living dining room and the kitchen are on the first floor. There are bigger apartments than this in the building but this room is 6m long and 4m wide which is big. There’s a 3-seater sofa and you can still walk all the way around it, and there is a wide gap between the sofa and the dining table.
It’s a 2-bedroom apartment so both the dining table and the sofa and armchair comfortably sit 4 people.
I like to use a lot of different lighting in open plan spaces so you can light up each area individually. So in addition to the ceiling lights we have floor lamps over the armchair and dining table, and table lamps on the sideboard and media unit.
Picking artwork is hard enough for individual customers never mind a whole market and I had a budget to watch so couldn’t spend a lot in this area if I wanted to get good quality furniture. So I decided to use vintage movie posters throughout, and chose large framed prints that featured the accent colours so that they complimented the decor.
Burnt orange obviously has an autumnal feel but it’s a colour that works in all seasons and is a great warm colour for living and dining rooms. I was careful where I used it though so someone could change the scheme easily if they wanted to buy the flat but didn’t like the colour. For the same reason I also avoided bold patterns and used wood and different textures to create warmth and interest.
The kitchen had already been fitted when I arrived so we just added these antique mirror tiles behind the hob and sink and a few accessories. It was important not to clutter the space as although it has plenty of storage and counter space a U-shaped can quickly look cramped if you go overboard.
The Master Bedroom
Both of the bedrooms are on the ground floor, and I think this is my favourite because of the mustard and charcoal grey wallpaper. It definitely isn’t a boys room but it does have a more masculine feel to it which was intentional. Although people are trying to introduce equality in all industries the fact is that the engineering industry is still dominated by males, and the biggest employer in West Cumbria is Sellafield. So I needed to ensure that the decor wasn’t too feminine.
There is actually room for a kingsize bed but I wanted to leave enough space for people to wander around the bed when they’re viewing the apartment.
I added a large wardrobe in the corner, and there would be room for a large set of drawers I just left them out for the same reason I didn’t add a kingsize bed.
The Second Bedroom
I did introduce a more feminine look in the second bedroom though. The soft pinks and greys, and all the wool and velvet in the soft furnishings practically makes me want to lie down the minute I go in this room.
It’s definitely a very pretty room but it’s also big enough to function as a main bedroom not just a guest bedroom. I asked the joiners to build a wardrobe in the corner with two rails to provide the same hanging space as a double wardrobe. And like the master bedroom, there is room for a kingsize bed and a set of drawers but I wanted there to be enough space for people to walk around the room during viewings.
All the rooms have these large sash windows so there is lots of natural light. And they’re really well insulated. There wasn’t any heating on when I was working in the apartment and the rooms were still warm.
The bathroom is also on the ground floor next to the bedrooms which is much more convenient for late night bathroom visits. It had already been fitted and the walls tiled when I arrived but I added new lighting, the cabinet, mirror, shelf and towel rails etc, as you need all those things in a working bathroom.
I also asked them to tile the floor and the side of the bath to match the walls. I have an aversion to acrylic bath panels…
So that’s the tour over. I’d love to know what you think? And if you fancy a nosy around and/or a chat about anything interiors I’ll be at the show home on Saturday from 10am – 4pm and on Sunday from 10am – 1pm. The apartments are on Challoner Street behind The Globe Hotel, but just follow the smell of coffee and brownies and you’ll find us…..