Entertainment Room – Hamilton

Split personality

Kaleidoscopic colours inject freshness and vibrancy into the classic design of this sprawling home, with a focus on fun and family.

For the owners of this lavish abode – there’s no place like home

Think about what makes you happy – and don’t hold back now. You can be as simple or as lavish as you like. Is it an sun-kissed afternoon spent with family and friends? A beautiful piece of artwork you picked up on your travels? Or a particular colour that lifts or soothes your mood?

The pursuit of happiness is an age-old quest, and one that has taken many forms. For many of us, a great deal of comfort is found in the privacy of our own home. And why not? It’s where we cook and enjoy a late Sunday breakfast, raise our families, and spend time relaxing with friends. As is the case for the owners of this lavish abode – there’s no place like home.

“We wanted to be surrounded by beauty, happiness and lots of love” explain the owners. Heavily influenced by the psychology of colour, they wanted to combine bright colours and contemporary furnishings, alongside elegant formal areas to create a magnificent personal space – one that combines formality with family-friendliness. To do so, they wanted to enlist the expertise of an interior designer, to help bring their concept to life. The question was, who?

A fortuitous discovery was made in the pages of an interior design magazine. Bold colours leapt from the page, leaving a lasting impression on the owners. It was the unmistakable work of John Croft of John Croft Design. “He uses happy colours and that’s something we wanted in our home” they say. John, and one of his senior designers, Renee Burgess, collaborated with the owners to create a vivid and lively living space.

The home is a braid of kaleidoscopic colours, interweaving according to John’s – and the owners’ – desired effect.

Essentially, the home is split into two distinct living areas; the downstairs entertainment space or ‘playroom’, and the more formal upstairs level, which also encompasses the dining and kitchen areas.

“We love the lower level” respond the owners, when asked of their favourite area of the home. “We wanted a strong home; something stunning, but warm and modern as well. We’ve got a growing family, so we didn’t want the kind of house where you can’t sit down, or where the children aren’t allowed to touch anything!” There’s no better place for the kids – and grown-ups as well – to run amok than in this downstairs area, that boasts a media room, purple velvet billiard table, and pool.

Here, there’s lime green on one wall, bright orange opposite, and purple around the corner – and that’s not including the furnishings! With colour choices straight out of a packet of Smarties, John reveals his colour methodology. “The tonal values have got to be the same” he explains, “the same strength. You can’t start off with bright lime walls and then start going into pastels.” He pauses for a moment, reconsiders his response and adds. “Well, actually, you can go a little bit brighter if you wanted, but you can’t all of a sudden then decide on pastels. You can have a lot of colour, but it’s got to be the same strength of colour; the same blues, greens, reds, oranges, whatever. That’s the biggest mistake people make; not getting the tone right.”

He continues: “Down here the design is far more playful, contemporary, fun – to reflect the purposes of the space. However, look at it this way, if you took away all the colours and patterns, the furniture actually is very conservative. It’s just the colours that are loud.” When asked how he orchestrates such strong colours, he answers: “It’s instinctive, but it’s also controlled. Although it looks like everything’s been thrown together, the large panels of plain anchor the patterns of the scatter cushions and rugs.”

Upstairs, the foyer is a welcoming sensation of brightness. It is a joyous, festive place, which reflects the owners’ wish to make a flamboyant first impression – not only for their guests, but for themselves as the family arrives home each day. One almost expects a shower of rose petals to be unleashed from the high ceiling, on arrival. Overhead, a glimmering chandelier from the owners’ previous home refracts pretty, soft shards of sunlight into the main hall, whilst a celebratory yellow imbues the room with joy.

“I love the entry” says John. “Now why do I love the entry? I don’t know. It’s very concentrated. It makes an impact.” The designer’s voice crisply curls around his words. He speaks quickly, interrupting himself with thoughts out loud, as if he’s asking himself rhetorical questions to add emphasis to his response.

We didn’t want the kind of house where you can’t sit down, or where the children aren’t allowed to touch anything!

Further along the hallway, two decorative domes each house a delightful, dreamy trompe l’oeil, that lights up around the rim with the flick of a switch. The result is purely theatrical – where nothing has been spared in the pursuit of beauty.

Upstairs on the top level, the cohesive collaboration between formality and family-friendliness is no better exemplified. Here you’ll find the kitchen, casual sitting room, dining area and formal sitting room all within the one open-plan space. Having so many specific areas on one level does raise the question of how to tie it all together. In this case, it was the clever use of an over-sized dining table.

“In the formal sitting room, we increased the strength of the colours, to make it very vibrant” explains John. “By making it very vibrant, we also made it very rich and a little bit more fun – something you wouldn’t expect from classical furnishings.” And certainly something you wouldn’t expect from classical furnishings is a leopard print chair! “It’s one of our favourite pieces” says the owners, who like to sit and read in this area, which overlooks the panoramic view. “It’s not a sombre look by any means” says John. “It’s a fun, exciting area, which reflects who the family are; they’re a European family, and there’s lots of noise and people coming and going.”

In particular, the dining table not only divides the upstairs floor, but is suited to the needs of a large family. Covered in red ostrich leather, the chairs are stylish but “very easy to keep clean” say the owners, who add that the table is, “big enough to fit two families”. As a pause between the formal and casual sitting rooms, the table is a robust, chunky style, different to the furnishings of the formal sitting room. This helps segue the formal sitting room into the casual area.

In this home, the influence of John Croft sprawls over multiple levels. Since their first meeting, John has helped the owners refine all areas of the home, not just the interior design. “I looked at the whole plan of the house and redesigned the master ensuite, to better suit the space. For instance, the original plan had vanities down one side, but because the room is so large, I split them, so that there’s a vanity on opposite sides of the room – his and hers.”

The owners gained confidence from John’s input into their home; they had someone they could rely on for advice and guidance. “After the plans were drawn up, we asked John if he could recommend a builder” they detail. “That’s how we came across Roger Darvil. Roger’s really easy going, and was able to handle any problems quickly and without stress – he made the construction process fairly painless.” The owner’s congenial builder, coupled with John’s design refinements ensured the large, initially daunting project, was pulled off without any building nightmares.

“The process of working with John went beautifully. We had similar ideas; he was in-sync with us. Even if we didn’t like some suggestions so much, we felt comfortable to tell him that and he would suggest other ideas. The finished result is exactly what we wanted for our family.”

See this article as published in Luxury Home Design, Volume 11, No 4, 2008

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