A stone’s throw away from Hyde Park in London sits a historic 19th-century building, owned by a Kuwaiti family since 1972. After a minor touch-up in 1990, it was left untouched until they approached Nebihe Cihan Studio to carry out a full renovation in the fall of 2019.
Having always been passionate about vintage architecture, Nebihe Cihan explains that for her, old is gold. “When I first saw the apartment, I fell in love with the original parts and wanted to merge those elements with the new.” She continues, “my client told me she had very nice memories in this apartment, which was one of the reasons behind preserving the old elements and thus, her memories. It was imperative to me that I respected the history of the apartment and retained its charm.” Scroll through the gallery below (Photography: Stephan Julliard; Production: Emily Leung) to find out more:
Although the family has homes all around the world, from Kuwait, to Spain, Switzerland and the USA, the lady of the house has a special affinity for Paris. The main objective then was to imbue the Victorian architecture with a Parisian influence, which Cihan did by layering luxurious fabrics from Pierre Frey and Nobilis throughout the home. Italian sophistication is also introduced to complement the Parisian charm, with functionality at its core.
Interior designer Nebihe Cihan has achieved the artful balance of mixing heritage and history with edgy elements throughout this stunning home. In the dining and living rooms, her layered style pervades.
“I am not guided by design 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.”
Each Italian marble slab in the apartment has been handpicked from Verona and custom-made in Bergamo, a testament to the family’s love for the material. The coffee table was made using Macchia Vecchia, the dining table with Nero Marquina and the console table at the entryway with Paonazzo.
Inspired by the client’s uplifting energy, a warm colour palette has been introduced to permeate joy throughout the space and evoke memories. For the entrance area, Cihan chose an exquisite textured gold Namban wallpaper by de Gournay to inspire awe in visitors. “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,” the designer shares. “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!”
The highlight of the living room is the emerald green Minotti sofa, which the client specifically requested for as green is her favourite colour. “We went through 100 varying shades of green fabric to pick the correct one,” Cihan laughs. She went on to use the same green velvet fabric on the two armchairs that she custom-designed, with added long gold fringe to make the silhouette more romantic and dramatic.
The space is also home to an array of art pieces, 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,” says 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 adorn the walls.
The bedrooms are more muted in comparison, paying homage to the surrounding subdued London landscape. Greys and taupes dominate, with added a touch of colour from the Wysteria wallpaper by de Gournay, complemented beautifully by the purple vintage Murano lamps. “I was really inspired by the client’s energy and her lifestyle when I was designing this project. She is vibrant, positive and above all, glamorous,” concludes Cihan. “When I am designing, it is important to me that the décor also reflects the personality of the client.”