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A refurbished basement apartment is tastefully transformed

Driven by a highly refined taste and a love for plants and flowers, a TV producer has radically refurbished a basement apartment

“I really wanted to create a space that felt completely separate from the bustling city outside,” says Rosie Rockel, who works in the entertainment industry as a television producer, when asked about her fully renovated apartment on the ground floor of a late Victorian mansion house split into five flats. It was an absolutely successful undertaking, so much so that those who enter Rosie’s home are won over by the quiet atmosphere, emphasised by the harmonious colour combinations and the proliferation of potted plants and flowers. Not to be forgotten is the lucky orientation of the house, helping to create a clear separation between urban and domestic life.

As Rosie points out, “Most of the windows look out on the private garden, which has high walls and feels calm and still.”

The building itself was built around 1870 and was converted – badly – into flats in the 1990s. When Rosie renovated the flat in 2018, her intentions were very clear: to revolutionise the interiors without regrets, with the specific aim of creating a greater sense of space, optimising natural light and emphasising the connection with the internal garden.

“The building itself is late Victorian, but since my flat would originally have been a cellar or scullery, it had no original features to speak of. When I renovated, I had no compunction about going for a more modernist look,” Rosie explains, rightly proud of the result obtained thanks to her design audacity. “Had there been original fireplaces and cornicings I probably would have gone for a more classical aesthetic, but as I effectively had a clean slate I was happy to start from scratch.”

At around 70sqm, the flat is quite small. “You enter through a small hallway, which opens out onto a large living room,” says Rosie. “There are three bedrooms and a bathroom. When I renovated the flat I built a kitchen extension with a glass roof off the living room, which looks out onto the garden”.

Yes, the kitchen makes a wonderful surprise, because it is so bright and so happily inhabited by plants of all kinds, that one has the feeling of being in a sun-kissed Mediterranean garden. Rosie thinks so too: “The kitchen is probably the best feature and these days is where I mostly work. Due to the pandemic, I have spent more time in there than I have ever imagined and I can assure you it is truly a lovely space to be, sunny and tranquil. The conservatory roof means indoor plants thrive and the full-width window looks straight out to the flower beds outside, so the overall impression is of a lot of greenery.”

The furniture and chromatic choices help too, she says. “I chose a pale pink for the kitchen. It’s a colour that’s a lovely soft shade to live with. The countertop is a white quartz composite and the flooring is cork from Portugal, which is used throughout the flat.

I absolutely love cooking and having friends over, I must say the spaciousness, light and the windows out to the garden makes my kitchen a delight to entertain in.”

As for the other rooms, the mood is the same: relaxed, cozy, intimate. Rosie personally took care of the interior decoration, trusting her refined taste and good instinct. “Nearly all of the furniture is secondhand – some inherited, some bought. I tend to buy secondhand because things used to be better made than they are now and you can buy quality for less.

“It’s also far more eco friendly. I love hunting for treasures online and at antique fairs – it always feels like more of a prize when you find a one-off piece.” Such as the lamp in the kitchen, an original piece designed by Hans Due for Fog and Morup in the ’70s. “An absolute steal. It was listed on eBay as a ‘retro lamp’ by someone who didn’t know what it was!”

And then there are the paintings, many of them: “You can see the floral watercolours by my paternal grandmother and the smoke painting by my artist friend Guy Haddon Grant.” Rosie has created a space of great serenity, no doubt about it.

Words by: Marzia Nicolini. Photography by: Malcolm Menzies /Living Inside.

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