Name: Laura Burkitt and Ben Sarner
Location: Queen’s Park, London
Size: 1,229 square feet
Years Lived In: 18 months, owned
Laura Burkitt, a lifestyle and event stylist, bought this two-bedroom flat in Queens Park, London with her boyfriend a year and a half ago. “We bought the apartment as we wanted a garden flat, and decided to do an extension and renovation to make more of the space.” Laura left the magazine world to go freelance 18 months ago, so this was a perfect job for her to focus on at the time.
Having written travel reviews for Conde Nast Traveller and also worked on styling jobs like rebranding Giraffe Manor in Kenya, it’s no wonder Laura’s drawn a lot of her inspiration from her travels. “The flat includes a lot of knick-knacks I have picked up from antique markets, work and my travels. We always bring one thing back from every holiday. I think it’s important to surround yourself with happy memories.” Laura’s also inspired by hotel and restaurant design, especially if it’s Art Deco.
Laura and Ben have similar tastes and both loved designing everything themselves. After a few months of hard work, the couple finally created the perfect apartment of their dreams. The living room is an urban cool New York loft apartment meets London garden flat, with its exposed brick wall, steel Crittall windows and micro-cement floor. The bedrooms are completely different though. Laura tells me, “I wanted a calm space with lots of storage space, where I could really relax. We mixed lots of tonal greys, with a few interesting pieces such as all the different cupboard knobs from Anthropologie and the Jonathan Adler bedside lamps. I didn’t want a TV or mirror opposite the bed, so had a lift-out dressing table mirror built in.”
So what was the most frustrating part in this process I asked Laura? “Hmm, decisions making,” she tells me. “Plug sockets, hand rails… it’s hard imagining how things are going to look when you haven’t even started the room.” There were so many decisions that when it came to the bathroom, the couple each chose what really mattered to them. “My boyfriend wanted the biggest rainfall shower heads possible, and I wanted pretty tiles. The ones in the shower room are from Fired Earth and the hexagons on the ensuite floor are from Mandarin Stone (inspired by Soho House in Miami).” Seems like a perfect compromise.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Bright, vintage Bohemia meets urban cool
Inspiration: We had in mind a New York loft apartment in a London garden, so chose industrial details such as the exposed brick wall, steel Crittall windows and micro-cement floor, then softened the look with lots of bright decor, antique wooden furniture and tactile fabrics.
Favorite Element: I love the Cole & Son palm wallpaper in the hallway. I knew the tropical thing had been done A LOT, but the blue was a little different and it was actually the only colour we could both agree on. We painted one side of the door yellow so you always feel happy when leaving for the day.
Biggest Challenge: We created an office building at the bottom of the garden, which meant removing tons of rubble. There was a raised patio there before so it was a huge job clearing it. But it’s great to have a separate space to work from and store all my props. The walk through the garden isn’t a bad commute! The garden feels like a seamless extension of the living space as the flowers reflect all the pops of bright colour.
What Friends Say: Everyone who walks into the living room for the first time says WOW. The room is south facing, and it really is spectacular when all the doors are open on a sunny day. We spent some extra money having the garden landscaped after the builders had traipsed through it for months, and we’re lucky to have such a large outdoor space in London.
Biggest Embarrassment: We have a micro-cement floor with underfloor heating, which is prone to a few hairline cracks. Since the house has settled, we’ve had these filled in but have learnt to embrace the imperfections. We purposely chose the discoloured effect but have still had a few people walk in and ask when are we having carpet put down. Not everyone understands the industrial look!
Also: The Made.com lamp in the living room was the only piece of furniture we brought from our old flat. Unfortunately, it now seems to be on every Made.com advertisement so has become quite common. Weirdly though, it is the one item that people always comment on and love!
Proudest DIY: We already had four antique raffia-seat chairs but needed four more to go with them. I found four rosewood mid-century chairs on eBay, which were covered in an ugly faded green material, and reupholstered them myself with different coloured velvets. I love them so much and we like how they are mismatched.
Biggest Indulgence: We had a steel girder put across the entire width of the living space to avoid having a pillar put in, which would have broken up the view. It was very important to have a lateral living space flooded with daylight. The steel girder and the crittal doors were a big expense, but both were totally worth it. We actually made a feature of the steel by painting the plasterwork black, which frames the room.
Best Advice: Don’t buy furniture before you’re living somewhere. We bought this beautiful mid-century chest of drawers a few months before moving in and had the hassle of collecting it and storing it…only to find it didn’t look right in the bedroom! However much you try and work out furniture with a measuring tape, it’s better to get a feel for how you will move around a space before making a purchase.
Dream Sources: Pinterest, Elle Décor, Living Etc, Instagram
Anything Wes Anderson — my dream is to be in a Wes Anderson film!
My love for antique fairs came from my parents and I frequently go with them back in Yorkshire.
PAINT & COLORS
Walls — Farrow & Ball 2005 All White
Skirting — Farrow & Ball Pavilion Grey
Doors — Farrow & Ball Cornforth White
Yellow Door — Dulux Banana Dream 2
The door handles are from a friend’s house. They were gutting it and throwing them away, so we rescued them to use here.
Console table – Sophie Conran
Wallpaper – Cole & Son
Mirror – Antique
Pendant lights – Antique art deco from Alexandra Palace Antique Fair. We bought these when we were in the depths of decision fatigue halfway through the project. We were agonizing over buying them. The seller felt so bad/tired of us that he sold them really cheaply!
Izzy chaise Sofa in blue velvet, orange velvet cushions and both footstools – Sofa.com
Geometric cushion – Jonathan Adler
Mid-century sideboard – eBay
Side marble+gold table – Oliver Bonas
The big print of the man’s head is by an artist called Dan Hillier
Hexagon shelving unit and floorlamp – Made.com
Dining table – a bespoke creation by a clever friend called Lucy Main. It is made from planks of antique/reclaimed wood in a patchwork effect.
Kitchen cupboards were sourced by the builders and painted charcoal.
Quartz surface from a local marble supplier
The shelves are old Victorian floorboards which our friend Lucy (above) stained and cut to the dimensions. We then had the iron brackets made by a local blacksmith and the hanging utensil pole is from Ikea.
Stools – Ben saw these in a local restaurant and asked if he could buy them off the owner. Luckily he had a couple spare!
Custom-made wardrobes and dressing table
Cupboard knobs – Anthropologie
Stool – IKEA (so handy!)
Super king bed – Designer Sofas with a Hypnos mattress
Bedside tables – Habitat
Bedside lamps – Jonathan Adler
Suede curtains – Laura Ashley
Etchings opposite bed are by an artist in Rye called Marina Kim
I made the artwork above the bed (polaroids of sunsets and pretty skies from various holidays we’ve had) and the matchbox frame. I have always collected matchboxes, it’s a shame a lot of places don’t do them anymore!
Sofa bed – Made.com
Mid-century Chest of Drawers – Ebay (as described above)
Bedside table – George Home (bargain!)
Bedside lamp – Jonathan Adler
The purple and orange print — by Dan Hillier
Burlington bathroom suites
Fired Earth Arabesque tiles – no longer available
Mandarin Stone floor tiles — Mandarin Stone
Gold quatre foil mirror – a miracle find on eBay!
Hexagon mirror – We had this made at a local glass cutter. It was so much cheaper than buying something.