Inside the London designer’s 18th century apartment that’s become a lab for interior treatments
You won’t just be impressed by the way Ben Pentreath decorated his flat, you’ll also be struck by the way he secured the property
Flick through the pages of Inside, and you’ll find yourself asking, time and time again, ‘how did they do that?’ The book collects together pictures of the homes of sixty celebrated contemporary global designers and decorators. The dwellings vary a huge amount; there are seaside retreats, country piles, and perfectly formed big city pied-à-terres; yet in each case, these houses and apartments are the places where all the knowledge and decorating expertise these pros have perfected can be seen in their fullest expression.
However, you may also be taken aback by the ways these designers have managed to secure such incredible plots of real estate, in such coveted locations. The London home of Ben Pentreath demonstrates this well. His cheerful home lies in Bloomsbury, a coveted, cultured neighbourhood in the heart of the British capital.
Pentreath, the Duchess of Cambridge’s designer of choice, first put down roots in this part of the city via his shop, Pentreath & Hall, which is, as our new book explains, is close to London’s historic Art Workers’ Guild building, which dates from around 1720. “Founded in the 1880s by followers of William Morris—a favourite of Pentreath—the guild relocated to the Georgian house in 1914 and converted its upper floors into Apartments.
“Fast-forward to the summer of 2012: Pentreath. received a call from his friend, who worked at the guild, letting him know the top-floor flat was available. With great bones but in dire need of a renovation, Pentreath convinced the guild to let him live there for an extended, rent-free period in exchange for financing the refurbishment cost.”
“A few years later, Pentreath took over the flat downstairs, significantly expanding his home, but the living room remains his most frequented perch. ‘It’s the perfect London nest,’ he says.
”Over time, Pentreath has used the home to experiment with new ideas, explains Inside. “Throughout the space, layers of patterns and prints meet an eclectic mix of antique and contemporary furnishings. United by their exuberant, often quirky personalities, mismatched objects and ephemera with origins across eras, live in endearing harmony.
“In the sitting room, walls covered in pale grey grass cloth provide a foil for the bold textiles, upholstery, and accessories. Several pieces, including a mint-green armchair and Marianna Kennedy’s translucent candy-coloured Spring lamps, which are featured throughout the flat, come from Pentreath’s shop. Adorned with stacks of books, a vibrant coral ottoman with a green-and-white Greek meander trim sits in front of a stone fireplace with a black Japanned surround. To its side is a Hans J. Wegner chair. Vibrant cushions collected during trips to Stockholm, Paris, and New York dot every surface.
“At the opposite side of the sitting room is a gallery wall with twenty-four frames, which form John Rocque’s eighteenth-century map of London and Westminster. Having owned this work prior to moving into the flat, it was serendipitous that the frames filled the wall perfectly. ‘If we’ve given birth to a design cliché, it’s one I’m proud of, says Pentreath. ‘There is nothing more beautiful than this astonishing map.’”
And that's coming from someone who doesn't need a grid reference to understand the value of a great location.
To see further pictures of this exquisitely conceived, perfectly placed home, as well as many others, order a copy of Inside here.