Interior designer Omar Bhatti’s east London modern home is a testament to the transformative effects of a well considered renovation that has lifted it out of the ordinary.
Design Director of Space Shack (opens in new tab) Interior Design Studio, Omar's loft-style new build apartment on an island near Docklands, east London, features an open plan kitchen/living area, a main bedroom with an ensuite plus a guest bedroom and bathroom.
‘Did I push myself out of my comfort zone?’ Omar considers this question about the revamp of his own industrial-meets-chic home and replies: ‘It’s difficult to say, as this is what I do for a living and I’m always looking to push boundaries. But it was actually more challenging making decisions for myself, so I guess the answer is ‘yes’!
He gave himself extra pressure, he says, to make bold decisions and to bring it out of the ordinary. Like creating a focal point curved feature wall in the living room, flipping the shower room to make a larger main bedroom and replacing the wooden kitchen table with a show-stopping marble.
From the outset, Omar knew that he wanted to better the bones of the space by adding quality chevron engineered oak flooring and a new color palette in muted shades of pale pink, mushroom and green. Let's take a look inside...
Although a new build, the apartment with its lofty vibe with tall ceilings and metal windows was ripe for welcoming a new personality. Rather than emphasising the industrial elements, Omar chose to give the space a less obvious twist by decorating its shell with swishy curtains, sumptuous textiles, tactile surfaces and dashes of glamor and luxe.
The apartment was at the top end of developer homes and came with a well designed modern kitchen with concrete finishes with a wooden table built into the counter top. It was good, but Omar lifted it to another level, substituting plain glass for ribbed in the cabinets and replacing the table with statement marble. It’s these, comparatively small adjustments, that make the home sing, rather than simply speak.
‘I wanted to use the existing kitchen but remove the wooden dining table and create a bespoke version in marble which really anchors the design scheme,’ the designer says. 'I inherited the developer’s bright blue kitchen which I’m thinking of changing to matt black to better go with the rest of the scheme.’
‘The basics were all planned out and ready to go the day I completed on the flat,’ Omar says, which meant the work was done and he moved into his new home in a record two months. However he says: ‘You still have to leave room for your initial design ideas to evolve, as inevitably your requirements change and develop as you progress in the design process.’
A case in point is the fabulous feature wall in the living room. ‘I had planned to paint it in a khaki green lime washed paint but the raw plaster looked so beautiful I simply sealed it and left it as it was,’ he says. ‘Bringing in some greenery helped soften the space and makes it feel fresh and alive.’
The initial inspiration for the living room in this small apartment was a large, dramatic, graphic rug in black and cream. ‘I fell in love with it and designed the furniture and furnishings around it,’ he says ‘but then it was out of stock so I substituted with a muted pale version - which I grew to live with, then actually thought I preferred,’ he says.
But when the original rug came back into stock he tried it out and his initial instincts were confirmed. ‘It makes a statement and lifts the space out of the ordinary, tying everything together and adding gravitas,’ he says. Proof that initial instincts are often right. ‘I wanted a relaxed, elegant vibe here to contrast with the industrial bones of the apartment.’
‘I deliberately kept this space simple and calm to create a breather between the living and sleeping areas.’
Omar's bedroom, with a padded statement headboard idea that stretches the width of the room, and adjoining marble-clad ensuite ooze hotel chic at it’s best. ‘It was important that this space provides a sense of calm making it easy to relax and unwind in after a busy day,’ he says. ‘I wanted to wake up and go to sleep feeling zen, and the color pallet and choice of materials has really allowed this to happen’
Any tips Omar can share from his experience? ‘It’s what I say to clients: don’t try to do everything at once; get the messy building works done and take your time with furnishings as when you live in a home, that’s when you really get to know it.’
‘I chose simplicity and clean lines to appeal across the board to a different guests in this spare bedroom.’
’This is the first home I have owned and I wanted it to be a true reflection of my personality and style. ’It was fun to be the client for a change, and really understand the process I put them through,' he says. ‘Anyone who knows me well, gets that I am obsessed with fragrances! I had to have a dedicated bathroom cabinet idea for this.’
A legendary houses editor, Mary Weaver held the job of Homes Editor on Livingetc for over a decade. She set the aesthetic for which the brand has become known. She is now a freelance stylist, art director and writer, regularly contributing to Livingetc and overseeing the brand's successful House Tours franchises of live and webinar events.
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