When Ivan and Diana Rihoy purchased Morley School, they bought a renovated property which, whilst large and spacious, lacked that missing ingredient. They commissioned Dunnell Robertson Partnership to come up with an interior design to solve their problem.
The previous renovation works had retained the original truss roof which, whilst being a feature, was dark and overbearing as the trusses had a century or so of dark staining on them. The challenge was to create a design which, whilst respecting the original features, would introduce a contemporary element to the property, blending the old with the new.
First to go was the mock timber panelling and Tudor style fireplace which Ivan and Diana both agreed was not their style. Next was the staircase and balustrading to the gallery which dominated the living space and killed the natural light to the room. A kitchen had been installed at ground floor level during the refurbishment, however, I felt that a great opportunity had been missed to create a modern living space at first floor level incorporating the kitchen, dining and living areas.
When the staircase was dismantled, we discovered two steel columns which supported the gallery and had to be retained, less than ideal, however, for each problem encountered, there is always a design solution, provided sufficient time is given to consider all the options.
It was agreed that the best way to lose the columns would be to incorporate them into the kitchen design and, after a variety of kitchen layouts were considered, the columns were incorporated into the breakfast bar and clad in a Corona finish to match the bar top.
The style of the kitchen had to be strong in colour and texture as it needed to create the visual impact that I was hoping to achieve. A number of sample doors were shipped to the Island to ensure the correct shade was chosen, one that would be dramatic without being overpowering.
The spiral staircase was manufactured from glass and stainless steel in Italy and installed by local craftsmen who also installed the glass balustrading.
Hours were patiently spent rubbing down the existing trusses until a light honey finish was achieved which retained the character of the wood whilst adding a warm element to the room.
Care was taken selecting the floor finishes, with large format travertine tiles being laid to the kitchen area which were both practical and also provided a warm finish, with a neutral shade single colour textured carpet being laid elsewhere. The wall finishes and fabrics also retained a natural colour to respect the contemporary design.
Ivan and Diana now feel their home has that missing ingredient, that "wow factor", even if it is only at first floor level. The ground floor is the next challenge!