Miriam Frowein transformed an office into an intuitively elegant home. Step inside, says Tessa Dunthorne.
Miriam Frowein’s Redesign Of A Commercial Office – Into An Intuitively Elegant Home
‘It began life as an office building – for a tea company,’ interior designer Miriam Frowein explains about her rather unconventional Belgravia home. ‘Which means it’s got a very unusual layout.’
The house spans two floors, each hosting two equally huge rooms, with echoey high ceilings and a curious number of fireplaces. But Miriam and her family weren’t looking to modify this space; rather the goal was to create a home that complemented the quirks of such a layout. ‘But it was a challenge to bring in some warmth and cosiness,’ admits the interior designer.
To create a sense of warmth, Miriam experimented with layering textures and materials. She tells me she is often drawn to tiles in her work – for all their different effects. Huge slabs, for example, would not have worked in this space, as they create what she deems a ‘colder look’. Instead, the kitchen is given some energy with bright terrazzo tiles, which are both hardwearing and practical for this functional space, all the while still allowing the room a character of its own. Other materials help combat the sort of neutrality you’d tend to find in a previously commercial space. Oak, she says, and cream coloured bouclés were her go-to. The fabric was sourced from Schumacher, where her brother-in-law is the European CEO.
Miriam suggests that within a daunting space – such as hers, with high ceilings and large, unconventional rooms – careful use of colour is also key. ‘I think colours, and art, really help. In the living and dining rooms, I have tapestries on the wall: they help with the echoing and bring in warmth,’ she explains. Pieces from her family collection are dotted throughout, including enormous 3D fabric sculptures, which work to visually shrink too-big rooms. Lighting, too, can make a room feel that touch smaller, with suspended ceiling lights reducing the sense of dauntingly high ceilings.
Creating a home for yourself (especially when your bread and butter is creating such spaces for others) is a curious pressure, Miriam concludes. ‘In any case you don’t want to make mistakes – and because you see more of what’s going on in this industry, you almost find it more difficult to then make decisions for yourself,’ she says. ‘And because it’s your own space, you have a different insight: I know the flow of how I will use it, so my whole process became more intuitive. I know how my little girls will walk around the space, that they will be careful and look after furniture, so I can make different decisions [like choose a cream sofa from Julian Chichester].’
And it certainly is intuitive. In the face of an otherwise challenging space, Miriam has created a real sense of home.