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Glittering highlights, textures and rich tonal themes make this apartment a welcome sanctuary from inner-city life

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Creating a welcoming home environment comes down to knowing what works and what doesn't. Elements of décor have specific effects, and understanding these is the essence of interior design.

When fitting out his own apartment, interior designer Leroy Belle combined a love of classic crystal and a penchant for furniture design with his knowledge of what contributes to making an effective décor. The result is an elegant and comfortable interior that maximizes space and indulges the eye.

"Unifying motifs for the apartment include Art Deco pieces, reflections, a strong use of textures and color themes to echo the times of day when the rooms are most in use," says Belle.

To soften the apartment's abrupt entrance into a narrow hallway, the designer employed glass and gold mosaic tiles together with artwork reflected in mirrors to capture visitors' attention and achieve a sense of arrival. The entrance also features a mirrored wall. Using mirrors in a modest-sized apartment creates a sense of doubled volume and can suggest further room by reflecting space from one room into the next.

The designer also maximized space with carefully designed furniture. Belle did much of this design himself, both to further the Art Deco theme and, as in the sideboards, to provide dedicated storage. Optimizing storage and employing easily moved pieces, including a dining table on castors, makes the home's 1400sq ft seem more expansive.

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Surfaces and materials also played an important part in the home's living and dining areas.

"Soft furnishings can be seen in terms of day and night, and also in terms of summer and winter," says Belle. "It's important to determine whether a space is used most during the day or at night. The living and dining area here are primarily for evening use and the décor reflects this. A quieter evening décor complements the nightscape beyond the windows without overwhelming it. An evening room is usually simpler, with a greater emphasis on texture."

In this living area the walls are painted inbattleship gray. Touches such as purple satin sofa cushions and crinkled stainless-steel-and-silk curtains provide textural and tonal highlights.

Together with the neutral tones of the walls, larger soft furnishings are also chosen for subtle colors and, again, for texture. In the living room a large gray and black Hermes cashmere rug is draped over the sleek black contemporary sofa, which was also designed by Belle.

A daytime room, Belle says, should feature more patterns and colors to match the diversity and vibrancy of life outside, as seen under daylight.

Belle sees a home's soft furnishings in seasonal terms, too. In the living and dining area are the décor's darker winter highlights. When summer comes the neutral-toned walls are highlighted with splashes of brighter aqua and turquoise cushions and drapes.

With the den-cum-office in use both day and evening, the designer again chose neutral tones, punctuated with reflections and eye-catching objects. This time the neutral backdrop is in warmer browns, with the idea of creating a professional office environment that's also earthy and welcoming for the designer and his clients.

From the silk-covered chair and shot silk taffeta curtains to the Charles Eames leather chair, the visual and tactile impact of texture remains a high priority in the office. The principal splash of color and pattern is provided by the silk tartan chair covering.

"The colors in this material pick up on subtle colorations elsewhere in the room," says Belle. "This is an easy décor solution, selecting one element that draws the room's tones together."

Naturally, the bedroom is seen as a night-time room and its décor of unpatterned materials supports this. An exception is the spotted Mulberry silk throw, which continues a subtle theme of circles in this room. The throw also acts as a broad band of color falling across the bed, which the designer says reflects a European trend.

Allowance is also made in the bedroom for the changing seasons. The bed-head covering in madrigal linen is removable and replaced in summer with a covering in cooler summer tones.

First published date: 24 August 2003

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Credit List

Interior designer Leroy Belle, Leroy Belle Interior Design
Architect Harry Siedler
Window treatments Stainless steel and silk Boyac curtains (living area), brown silk taffeta curtains (office/study), cream silk curtains (bedroom)
Flooring Hali rugs (living area and den/office); Wilton wool carpet (living area and bedroom); antique kilim (bedroom) sourced by designer
Wallcoverings, entry Gold mosaics
Paints Dulux
Furniture Custom designed by Leroy Belle
Upholstery fabrics Boyac
Accessories Lalique crystal collection (living area and study), sourced in Paris by Leroy Belle
Artwork Reproduction of Adam and Eve by Art Deco painter Tamara DeLempica (hallway), gold frieze by Malcolm Belle (living area), architectural pages (den)