Ellen Bishop transforms bland flat into stylish and functional family home

Changing the complete layout of the apartment, Dubai-based design studio Bishop Design Residential, transformed bland flat in Oceana Residences on the Palm Jumeirah into a stylish and functional family home.

Commenting on the client brief, Ellen Bishop, managing partner at Bishop Design Residential, says that every element needed to be practical and suitable for a growing family.

“The client is a young couple who spends most of the time in Monaco. They expressed their desire for an elegant waterfront apartment that offers a practical layout with beautiful and refined materials and storage options,” explains Bishop. “In regards to design direction they pretty much left it to us, yet they were specific about the layout requirements.”

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The existing layout of the apartment did not fulfill the couple’s requirements, so essentially the designers had to start from scratch.

“We started with a kitchen at least half its current size, a living room split into zones that limited its use and the master bedroom was considerably smaller, nowhere near accommodating the requirements of a master suite. In addition there was no maid’s quarter, which left their future aspiration to have a child in a dilemma. The layout was essentially transformed into much more practical usable spaces and following their brief of a larger master bedroom, accommodating a maid’s room, a larger kitchen and one big open space for living, dining and bar,” says Bishop.

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The overall colour palette of the apartment is very soft and low-key and consistent throughout the space. The detailing of the joinery and bespoke elements are pivotal in turning the client’s brief into reality and making the space modern yet timeless and with a distinct sense of luxury.

Specific features in the apartment include the lobby area that the design team created, which helped to delay the sense of arrival as guests enter.

“The clever use of lighting in the main living space helped frame the room, we used different light fittings in glass and metal, which did not obstruct the view but provided additional ambient lighting above the living space, dining room and bar. Layers of indirect lighting in the ceiling in addition to clusters of pin lights and crystal down lights accentuated the space and allowed the client to control the mood of the room should also be included as a feature.”

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The major changes in MEP took a good portion of the budget, but this allowed the designers to re-design the ceilings and layer the lights in a way that also concealed the air-conditioning grills.

“We invested this money heavily into the main living and entertainment space to ensure it portrayed a luxurious home away from home,” she says. “We used materials that were plush and unique, such as the rare stone used on the bar, the fireplace and its cladding as well as the suede and metal panels used throughout to create the symmetry, while balancing less important elements with more cost effective materials such as lacquered timber. “

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The new design and layout took away the original storage facility, which meant that each area had to have plenty of storage built within each space.

Bishop explains: “This was at the forefront of our minds during every stage, so we designed sophisticated units in every room that gave practical solutions, while finishing them in a beautiful mix of materials to still achieve a luxurious look and feel.”

As she explains, the design team used opulent materials such as suede and mirror for the wall claddings, dark grey mirrored doors, to create a balance of symmetry through the main lobby, bar, living and dining areas.

She continues: “This is mixed with a double sided full height fireplace in the entrance, which is elegantly cladded with a backlit feature that still allows the view of the Palm to be seen. This design element also created a small entrance lobby, which was one of the client’s requirements.”

The use of the metal lines created a seamless design within the main area that allowed the design team to conceal the many doors and almost camouflage the much needed storage.

“The backlit bar created an edgy feature with the use of milky white acrylic, bronze tinted glass shelving and framed in a champagne metal, which accentuated the bar counter. The counter was then designed and built using brushed bronze ‘fins’ with indirect lighting between each and a beautiful solid black Portoro marble top,” says Bishop.

The master bedroom was furnished with a practical vanity and desk unit for the couple with warm elegant colour tones and textures dressing the walls. The master bathroom was made larger to accommodate a Jacuzzi and steam room.

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“Both guest bedroom suites needed to be approached with slightly different styles, one more feminine and one leaning towards a more masculine style. This allowed the client to utilise each space in correlation with the guests they have staying and also gave them the flexibility for a future nursery without having to make too many changes to the hard finishes used,” she adds.

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As Bishop explains, one of the most important elements of this design were the changes to the overall layout which allowed the designers to maximise each room without compromising on space. The team was tasked to create enough storage in each room.

She continues: “Keeping the storage within the main living area discreet was imperative as we didn’t want these to become focal points. We mixed layers of different materials allowing us to balance each elevation and then linked the doors, storage and walls through linear detailing in a beautiful champagne metal finish. This provided a seamless look through the main living space, which we feel was paramount in making this space work.”

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