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Extensive use of glazing and mirrors give the occupants of this penthouse apartment a sense of floating in space

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Architects use windows and mirrors for a range of purposes. They lighten dark rooms, make small spaces appear larger and blur the division between adjoining rooms.

Interior designer Benteo Gineva was asked to renovate this penthouse apartment to make it more suitable for entertaining. Although it was large, the apartment appeared cramped because of the number of small rooms it contained. To solve this problem, Benteo removed several walls to open up the small living spaces into large, open-plan areas.

The apartment is used mainly at weekends by the owners and their family.

"We decided to create a simple, clean interior style to match the modern lifestyle of people in their 20s - the age group that mostly uses the apartment. This look also captures the ambiance and atmosphere of the dining and entertainment precinct nearby," he says.

To enhance the effect of living ina penthouse, Benteo wanted to create a sense of floating within the apartment. Large windows, mirrors and internal glazing help to give this impression. The study wall, for example, has a glazed lattice effect, and in other rooms full-size mirrors cover walls or ceilings.

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"I wanted the owners to feel they were living up high, with all-round vistas and visibility. Even on interior walls, vistas are reflected in strategically placed mirrors," he says.

Glazing means views extend from the central entrance foyer through to the rest of the apartment. The foyer also separates the apartment into different zones. To the left is the dining room, wine cellar and kitchen. The two guest bedrooms are also on this side of the apartment.

On the right of the entrance foyer is the entertaining and living area with its large screen television and stereo. The study and master suite open off here also.

The reflective nature of the glazing and mirrors also helps to enrich the minimalism of the décor and make spaces appear lighter and larger. A glass wall between the living area and small study makes both appear more spacious, while glass tabletops ensure the rooms don't appear cluttered with furniture. Instead, the eye is drawn to large, dramatically patterned rugs on the floor.

As well as helping to define and separate the various areas, rugs add a powerful element of color and design to each room. Their extra-long pile also softens the effect of the marble floors. The earthy tones of the rugs with their dramatic Mondrian-style squares and checks help to marry the wood elements in the interior with the hardness of the floor.

"Our aim was to create a modern look for the apartment – simple and clean, but more comfortable and cheerful than a purely minimalist décor," he says.

Lighting is another important part of the design. Illumination is used for its decorative value and to create focal points in each room, Benteo says.

In the living area, overlapping pieces of colored glass are backlit to create an unusual feature on the ceiling and throw interesting light effects around the room. Lighting also transforms a bay window in the living room into a cosy alcove. With rectangular wall lamps on side walls and strip lights on the pelmet above, the alcove seems to float away from the room.

Benteo specified natural materials and textures to provide elements of warmth and comfort in contrast to the flat colors used on walls throughout the apartment. Richly veined marble and the grain of solid wood stand out against the whites, off-whites and creams of the walls and furnishings. In the living and dining rooms, marble helps to camouflage the original wall finish.

The apartment is lavishly furnished throughout, with most items selected for aesthetic impact.

"Each piece of furniture was chosen individually. Most are designer pieces that create a highlight in the space in the same way as art works," says Benteo.

In the lounge, for instance, neutral, milky white sofas ensure the room appears to be free of clutter, while the orange sofa in the living area was chosen for its strong shape and color. And in the dining room an elongated, rectangular glass-topped table was chosen for its clean look. Leather bucket chairs complement this theme.

First published date: 23 April 2004

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Credit List

Interior designer Benteo Gineva, Phyllis Tan, IIDA International Design
Architect Architects 61
Kitchen design and manufacture Poggenpohl
Home audio Bang and Olufsen Asia