Peter Mikic’s projects have been the fake homes for many a famous face making them some of the most enviously fashionable interiors in the industry. Kate Moss reclined against an electric blue curved sectional sofa for LIU JO’s Fall 2012 collection and Cate Blanchett colour-coordinated with a gold Peter Mikic living room as she lounged around for a 2014 Vogue shoot.
The Australian-born, London-based designer’s projects are recognisable by their plush urbane aesthetic which appeals to the fashion mind. (Peter spent 15 years in the sartorial industry, in fact, before cutting his design teeth on a commission by Candy & Candy, designing uniforms and upholstery for a luxury yacht.) Their refined eclecticism epitomises a new kind of townhouse sophistication.
Ten years on from that first commission, Peter’s recently completed Dawson Place project cleverly updates classic pieces and pairs them with confident design choices, giving the space a mature but equally current feel.
“We completely stripped the house back to its bare bones,” Peter reveals of the redesign. The townhouse was previously divided into five flats during the 60s but, when the owners approached Peter, the brief was to combine the existing units and restore it to its former state – a singular family home.
“The clients have very outgoing and colourful personalities,” Peter explains, “They wanted a house where they could entertain in style and [which was] relaxed enough for comfortable family living.”
Translating this ultimate purpose into a style-conscious, elegant design, Peter incorporated multi-functional spaces, ample storage and an updated mid-century modern aesthetic with a sophisticated twist.
This trio is most apparent in the parquet-floored living room. A predominantly neutral space of champagne silk wallpaper, off-white upholstery and grey touches, Peter says its high ceilings offered a “luxury of volume” which gives the room “the grandeur and light from both ends.”
The room’s smart colour scheme is given a timeless richness through the use of warm woods – a change from the popular ashen woods of late. “They had several Art Deco pieces of furniture and sculptures, which worked well in the design scheme,” Peter notes in reference to a ginger-hued custom TV cabinet and travellers chest bureau. Unlikely companions, perhaps, to a 1960s cloud-like Murano pendant light (which Peter describes as a “perfect focal point in the room”) and two Marco Zanuso Senior lounge chairs but apparently not in the world of Peter Mikic. “Interior design is about knowing how to curate the right vintage and contemporary pieces two-dimensionally,” the designer explains. Not only does the unique combination work, the inclusion of such venerable pieces into the scheme elevates the room resulting the ultimate trade-off.
“The artwork in the main reception room really stood out for me,” Peter reveals of the home’s collection which skews towards Cubism, “I loved the colours and Art Deco style. We managed to incorporate some of that depth in the rug and cushions as well as the style of the bespoke sofas. We wanted a harmony between the old, the new, colours and styles.”
Separated only from the living room by careful furniture arrangements (the edge of a tram-line-patterned custom rug denotes an invisible boundary), the room’s alternative function is indicated by an elegant cabriole-legged desk and Streamline Modernesque sideboard which echoes the warm tones of the living area’s furniture.
“We had a nook in the reception room which made it perfect for their beautiful antique desk,” Peter mentions, “and how nice to be able to sit there and view the entire room and look out onto the garden. The desk area feels defined with the Fontana pendant light like an exclamation mark!” Carefully placed design exclamation marks seem to be a trademark of Peter’s designs – nothing is permitted to become too expected.
The informal sitting area develops the living room’s handsome aesthetic, taking on a Mad Men vibe with wood panelled walls, 1960s-inspired double wall sconces and Slim Aarons “Verbier Vacation” from Jonathan Adler. In keeping with the mid-century modern design, a blue fret rug anchors a modular sofa and large upholstered coffee table.
In the dining room, Peter almost entirely waives the usual formal dining look by dressing down the marble fireplace with an edgy monochrome rug, an understated oak dining table with hand-moulded solid bronze legs and an inverted brass and pleated silk chandelier. Only “almost entirely” though because the in the opposite corner a baby grand piano and a full-on grand bar cabinet sit, like something from a Gatsby movie.
A second dining area, even more suited than this dining room to the family life it is to be the stage for, is found in the kitchen diner on the lower ground floor which leads out onto the terraced garden. Like most London townhouses, the home makes the most of its space, including its height, hence these important subterranean spaces.
Connecting these with the rest of the property is a newly created pièce de résistance – a ribbon-like staircase which winds throughout the entire property. The replacement of the “decrepit pine staircase that twisted at all angles”, the design showcases a thoroughly modern form and use of materials (wood panelling combined with stark white walls) with traditional iron bannister. The effect is a celestial light shaft in the middle of what might have naturally been a typically darkened stairwell.
Finishing off the tour, the first-floor master bedroom (as featured in our round up of bedroom colour schemes) is a softly masculine space of luxurious proportions. A smart, pale grey leather bed with high gloss macassar ebony bedside tables; a custom Art Deco rug (crafted from New Zealand wool and silk) with contemporary lighting; and a sinuous chaise upholstered in a monochrome bamboo print – the texture and pattern contrasts are just noticeable enough to keep things interesting.
It seems texture was an important part of the design overall. Of his inspirations for the project, Peter states “rich textures and bright colours except [in] the master bedroom where we used soft greys and beige.” As this space (and the rest of the home) would testify, bright colours or not, Peter’s touch is like magic dust.