A penthouse apartment in a converted brewery building in Chiswick, west London. A foyer leads up to the first floor, with a daughter’s bedroom suite and a guest bedroom. The second floor is all open-plan, with a living room, kitchen, dining area and home gym, plus WC. There is a bridge/mezzanine third floor and the master suite is on the top floor.
Marie Soliman, her partner Albin Berglund, and Marie’s daughter, live in a penthouse apartment in a converted brewery in west London. For the couple, who co-run interior design studio Bergman Interiors, its location was a bonus. ‘Lofts come up more often in east London, which historically had more factories, so this place felt like a rare opportunity,’ says Marie. She immediately loved its open-plan levels, criss-crossed by metal beams and bolt-studded joists.
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The open-plan layout of this home also provided Marie with the impetus to come up with flexible design ideas. ‘There are so many ways that you can tailor a large space so that it works for you and your lifestyle,’ she says. A case in point is their bespoke dining table, which transforms into a billiards table after hours. ‘Once everyone has finished eating at a dinner party, we can clear the table, slide the top off and have some fun,’ smiles Marie.
Then there’s Marie’s smart solution to kitchen cabinets. With no walls to screen the white kitchen off, the couple wanted it to feel more like a bar area. To emphasise this ‘unkitcheney’ mood, artworks can be displayed against the panels that slide over the kitchen storage and appliances.
‘We suspended a slim metal rail above the cabinets to hang art from, almost like an update of the Victorian picture rail,’ Marie explains. It’s a design trick she has also used in clients’ homes. ‘If people want to hide the TV when it’s not in use an artwork can be hung over it, suspended from a thin metal wire or rail,’ she adds.
‘We love the height of the space – eight metres in places,’ says Marie. A statement pendant suspended from the beams illuminates both this area and the floor below.
Family life is lived in the open and without dividing walls. ‘We have our home gym in one corner of our big living space, and our en suite is only screened off from the dressing area and bedroom by a fabric curtain,’ Marie says. That sense of openness is aided by expanses of Crittal-style glazing, meaning that sunrise, sunset and every nuanced version of natural light in between, are part and parcel of life here.
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‘It has the dynamic of a loft space with very few internal walls and we wanted to embrace its industrial past. There was never any question of disguising these elements,’ she says. The clanky metal staircase is all part of the aesthetic – even with Brookman the Doberman in the house. ‘When he runs down them, he sounds like a horse in full gallop!’ she jokes.
For Marie, this also brings a softer side in the apartment’s character to the fore. ‘Up here, you can sit and watch blue skies gently fade into the peachy pinks of the golden hour.’ Then there’s the birdsong. ‘The sounds of waterfowl on the river below drift up to us and London parakeets visit early in the morning.’
The apartment’s metal beams are perfect for a hanging chair.
Marie is particularly attuned to the effects of natural light because, as well as being an interior designer, she is an artist and several of her works hang in their home. The couple are also keen collectors, with work by Michele Lamy, Rick Owens, Heather Day and Megan Doyle on display.
‘A lot of our art complements the way that natural light flows in here, but in an abstract way,’ Marie explains. Even my daughter gets in on the art act, with a mini KAWS figure beside her bed. ‘I’m a believer that art should be enjoyed on a day-to-day basis,’ Marie adds.
A palette of gentle pastels takes the edge off the metal frame.
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Mirrored wardrobes make the most of the light in this former rooftop office, which has spectacular views across the city.
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When the weather is good, Marie heads up to the apartment’s rooftop space for her morning workout, where she can stretch, flex and twist while taking in the 360 degree views across London. But, she says, making the trip up there isn’t always necessary. ‘To be honest, this home is so flooded with light that it feels as if you’re open to the sky all year round,’ she smiles.
This truly is a home of two halves: gritty industrial on the one hand and light and ethereal on the other. But, for Marie, contrasts are what bring a design to life. ‘I think you always need layers of interest in a space,’ she says. ‘For example, Albin is more into monochrome minimalism and I love texture, gleam and vibrance, so we’ve found ways to merge our two design languages. It’s like gin and tonic – you can’t have the one without the other…’
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See more of Marie and Albin’s interior design work at bergmaninteriors.com
Photography / Anna Stathaki