Rebekah Caudwell imbues her designs with spirit and soul and founded her design practice in 2009. Based in London & NYC, she consistently has projects running simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic with clients who covet her personal, warm and expressive style. Her design work is mainly residential, a primary focus being mainly on Greenwich Village townhouses and she is unafraid of taking risks with both colour and pattern, frequently referring to herself as a maximalist. Rebekah was the design force behind the 2015 Apprentice home that the entrepreneurial hopefuls stayed for the duration of the challenges, here she discusses the design project in detail…
Project name: John Street Townhouse – London
Floor Area: 6262 sq ft
Project time taken: 18 months
Completion of Project: originally September 2014 with further additional furniture and accessories selected and added in August 2015
The design brief was to give some youth, energy and a slightly more contemporary feel to a beautiful and well proportioned, but rather serious house. As colour is always my starting point, I knew a very effective way of changing the feel of the house was to use some unexpected and fun colours. I love to have a unifying colour either subtly or boldly iterated through a house or project, and blues are one of my favourites! It creates a visual link through the property that people often unconsciously respond to. It makes the home hang together.
What was the creation / planning process?
Arriving at the front door of the flat fronted, brick façade, you have a pre-conception of what will be inside. So I wanted to play with people’s expectations and subvert them totally.
How did the project go?
The most important thing for me about interior (or exterior) design is that it makes people happy, that it brings a smile. Your home should be a haven, somewhere you enjoy returning to, and a place that makes you feel great just by virtue of walking through the door. The end result of this project was just what I wanted. A rather patrician façade concealing an unexpected bright jewel.
What was your favourite room or part of the project and why?
The Drawing room, which only receives direct sunlight for around two hours a day in the afternoon so I wanted to make it sunnier with the use of yellow, and I combined it with turquoise, one of my favourite colours. I also brought in some graphic and geometric patterns for additional impact and to give the room a more contemporary feel. That combined with various textures and hard surfaces – velvet, wool, wood, lacquer, brass and marble – give the room diversity and lift. I love architectural history and this house has historical detail in abundance, so it is lovely to play these games of combining our own time with the craftsmanship and detail of the past.
Were there any issues or problems you encountered during the project?
People often think that space needs to be filled, but negative space (if you have enough square footage for it!) can be very luxurious. The blue and cream rug by Martin Lawrence Bullard in the master bedroom is so beautiful with its blue singing silk that I wanted to allow it its own floor space, as you would give a painting its own wall space. It has become one of the main focal points of the room. Keeping the rug clear of furniture also makes the bedroom feel even more expansive and spacious. This room measures 27 foot x 14 foot wide with 11 foot high ceilings and the amazing original plasterwork on the ceiling dates back to the 1750s.
A small patio leads to spiral stairs to the garden, which you can also reach directly through the drawing room above. Here, the verdant, vibrant lawn is actually artificial grass. The sun doesn’t quite reach all corners of the garden as it is overshadowed by nearby buildings (a common city complaint) so the grass is both a fun and practical solution. And being able to see that amazing green in the depths of a long, grey winter is like a promise of better things to come. The colourful contemporary garden chairs and tables add to the somewhat Alice in Wonderland feel of this space. Everything, including the heightened colour, is a little larger than life. This garden is not at all serious. It is joyful, and has a feel of childhood for the adult about it.