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Beata Heuman brings her signature cocktail of ideas to an expansive London apartment

By cleverly reconfiguring the space and adding in a harmonious blend of new and vintage furniture, Beata Heuman and her team offer a masterclass in enlivening a blank canvas

By House & Garden | April 19, 2022 | Architecture

The element of surprise is an underrated quality in an interior; it can be exhilarating to walk into a room and be confronted with novel ideas, witty additions and unusual details. The houses of Swedish-born interior designer Beata Heuman have this quality in spades. It’s impressive that you can usually identify a Beata project on sight, as the designer herself confesses to drawing on a vast range of inspiration, from the 18th century to the 1980s, or as Beata calls it ‘really just any olden times, but also contemporary things too. Some people are much more strict with where they get inspiration from and that might be more restrained and sophisticated, but I can’t help myself’. There may not be any single calling card that marks out a project by Beata and her team, but the overall look is unquestionably hers.

Photograph: Simon Brown

This London flat is perhaps one of the best examples, as it was an opportunity for Beata and her team – she worked primarily with senior designer Caroline Barker – to test out some ideas they had been wanting to do for a while. ‘There wasn’t very much the client didn’t like,’ Beata explains, ‘so it was a very joyful process. We were really inspired and really excited to be able to add in some details that other clients might not go for.’ One such example is the pink floor that hits you as soon as you open the front door. It is ‘quite surprising for a residential project,’ as Caroline notes. Even for this enthusiastic client, the floor was a small sticking point for a while: ‘The first time we did a test, it was quite pink as it hadn’t been knocked back yet, so the clients were a little bit anxious about it.’ However, they had placed their faith in Beata’s particular cocktail of ideas and pressed on, and of course, they were utterly thrilled with the finished product.

Photograph: Simon Brown

Aside from having a notably receptive client, this house was a departure from their normal projects for Beata and her team in other ways too. The space itself was new for Beata, as ‘we’ve never worked on a big lateral open plan space before. It’s not very common to get that in London,’ she says. ‘It can be a challenge though,’ Beata continues ‘and it’s really important to make sure it’s all used and you don’t have any rooms that are abandoned.’ The clients are a young professional couple, with no children and so the four-bedroom flat became a two-bedroom flat, with the other two rooms used as a cork-walled study and an incredibly enviable dressing room.

The incredibly enviable dressing room. Photograph: Simon Brown

The amount of space was a luxury for Beata, as the addition of a separate study meant that she could use the open plan kitchen, living and dining room to its full potential. In order to achieve this, the first thing that the team needed to do was rework the staircase, which leads from the central hallway up to the kitchen (the bedrooms are on the floor below, where you enter the flat). ‘The staircase was coming quite a long way into the entrance hall,’ Caroline details, ‘so we pushed it back and stole some floorspace from the second floor to make it less steep, while making it more of a swooping structure too.’ It lands in the middle of the open plan room, turning it into an L-shape, with the kitchen as the short end, the dining space adjoining and the sitting room down the length.

Photograph: Simon Brown
Photograph: Simon Brown

‘As it’s a large space,’ says Beata, ‘it was better to keep it neutral but add in colour elsewhere, for example on the radiators. It’s a bit like doing a painting; you just add little bits that will enhance the rest in some way and create tension, balance and contrast. We didn’t want it to be too harmonious, so the red radiator breaks it up.’ The colour of the radiators may seem like the most insignificant detail, but it’s these thoughts that take an interior to the next level. ‘Because there’s not much furniture around the perimeter of the room’ Beata continues, ‘it felt quite empty, so the radiator added interest to an empty space. It draws attention away from the windows themselves’.

The dining room with bright coloured radiator. Photograph: Simon Brown

The furniture was also a chance to add colour to the room, and Beata and her team sourced it from far and wide. There are IKEA pieces, antiques, Pinch sofas, Beata’s own designs and high street finds all mingling together in perfect harmony. The team did not have very long for the project, pulling the whole thing together in a mere four months, but as Caroline enthuses, ‘it had a good effect because we looked to source more vintage items than we normally would, which helped create a sense of character in a building without the architectural features that make it feel old.’

Where does the flat go from here? For Beata, ‘it’s so unrealistic to think that it’s going to stay how it is, so we offer schemes that have lots of different styles combined so they can naturally add to it and new things will look at home. By doing that, you get more of a sense that it’s been built over time. It was a very good fit with us and them so I have every confidence that they’ll make it look even better. It’s exciting to see what they’ll add.’

Photograph: Simon Brown
Photograph: Simon Brown
Photograph: Simon Brown
Photograph: Simon Brown

Photograph: Simon Brown
Photograph: Simon Brown
Photograph: Simon Brown
Photograph: Simon Brown
Photograph: Simon Brown
Photograph: Simon Brown;
Photograph: Simon Brown

Words by Simon Brown

This article originally appeared on House & Garden UK

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