Beirutful House by WHAT _ Architecture
The Beirutful House is owned by French-born architect and designer Annabel Karim Kassar. The house is set into the side of a hill, and is blessed with two generously sized reception rooms over two floors. The living space on the lower-ground floor backs onto a charming private garden (featured in the film Notting Hill) and has been transformed into a light-filled family room, dotted with acid-bright Knoll furniture.
Shadows dance on the walls and ceiling like an art installation courtesy of crochet-covered ‘stocking’ pendant lights by Beirut company Caï-Light. ‘Downstairs is a fairly minimalist space compared to the rest of the house, and it’s given ornamentation by the shadows,’ explains Anthony. The lights, he says, were chosen for purely aesthetic purposes rather than practicality.
Eero Saarinen Tulip Side Table is by Knoll.
Splashing lighting is also by Cai light. It is a small pattern-perforated lamp.
Handmade embroidered and printed cushions were made bespoke in Paris
This mirrored ceiling is an articulated “fractal” mirrored surface from Cai lighting.
‘Very few clients would allow us to do anything like this,’ says Anthony of the dazzling kitchen. ‘But these owners have very sophisticated tastes and believe minimalism can lead to banality.’ Unable to find a kitchen that suited their needs, Anthony started from scratch, and was drawn to the Moroccan motif thanks to the client’s love of geometry. The opulent tiles are all handmade, but were fairly inexpensive to make.
The master bedroom occupies the entire fifth floor of the house and is a unique blend of minimalist and ornate styles. A Lebanese-style bespoke wooden doorway with a gothic twist was made in France by Ateliers Perrault and separates the bedroom and dressing room areas.
The glass doors separating the walk-in wardrobe from the bedroom make it a real feature of the room. The carved wooden screen divides the areas nicely while keeping the continuity of the light, white space. The carved transom windows add decorative detail to the simple scheme.
The door frame goes really well with ethnic African boubou wax printed curtains. The dressing room leads to a TV area in the master suite, which also features a whiter-than-white carpet. ‘There’s no greater luxury than a white carpet – it’s very decadent,’ says Anthony.
An attic bedroom was created for the kids’ grandma, who is an eccentric figure. ‘It’s a quite typically French room and the bathroom has been left purposely open,’ explains Anthony. ‘It’s a very decadent room.’ Another decadent touch is the the screen, which is fabric that has been painted over by an artist.
If your budget won’t stretch to some of the bespoke solutions, such as glass doors and double-sided fireplaces, a freestanding screen can look amazing for a modest sum. Scour second-hand shops and vintage fairs for something a bit different and link it with your bedroom scheme. Choose a carved wooden fretwork screen for a Mediterranean or Moroccan look, a white-painted screen for a Scandi or New England space, or an elegant Victorian tapestry for a traditional room. They can also be given a new lease of life with new fabric or by wallpapering wooden panels.
‘We obtained permission to open up this window and make alterations,’ says Anthony. The client is a big fan of traditional English-style panelling and wanted to incorporate it throughout the house. In the distance is the communal garden – a feature of many Notting Hill homes – views of which can be enjoyed from the Turkish-style chaise longue.
Bespoke throne toilet built from Moroccan tiles with “Zellige” pattern, hand – printed on top them by a French artist.
Annabel Kassar in her apartment.