Interior design: how to create an inspirational apartment

Interior design: how to create an inspirational apartment

One of the most exciting elements when moving house is being able to inject your style onto a blank canvas. Lisa Preece hears how a Wiltshire-based interior design company helped turn a new-build apartment into the perfect home. 

Emma Barber, a design enthusiast, rekindled her love for interiors after starting a family. In her university days, Emma studied interior architecture and design before going on to work with high-profile clients. She couldn’t shake the thought of starting her own interior design company, so in 2014, she created EB Interiors. Designs are generated by combining trends in the industry with practicalities. Emma is keen to combine the old and the new, using favourite objects and family mementoes as inspiration. These are used in her designs to add character, originality and a sense of family and history.

She was recently approached by a professional who wanted her expertise to help him put his own style into a new build in Bristol’s Wapping Wharf development. Being faced with a blank canvas is daunting, but Emma was able to devise a comprehensive plan for the apartment before it was even built. 

Luckily, the client had lots of ideas. “He wanted an uncluttered industrial-style space with an injection of colour. He had a few lovely pieces of furniture, including a floor lamp, some artwork and photographs, two beautiful trunks and a handcrafted dining table. This helped to give a clear view of his style and was a great starting point for design inspiration,” says Emma.

It wasn’t all simple, though. Designing the interiors for an apartment that hasn’t been built provides challenges, and Emma found herself constantly on the phone with the suppliers checking exact measurements to ensure her vision could fit into the space once built.  

Lounge and dining room

The open plan lounge and dining space was a shell of white walls, oak flooring and charcoal grey aluminium windows, with similar patio doors leading to the balcony. This blank canvas worked well for Emma. 

“As it was an open plan space, I wanted to use furniture and other pieces to define each area, but still keep it open,” she says. “The key pieces to inject colour included the gallery wall in the dining area and the rug in the lounge. The gallery wall is an evolving wall that can be filled with bright, colourful prints then changed with ease when desired. I picked out certain colours in the gallery wall and used them throughout the space, from yellow curtains to the jade green in the custom-painted industrial-style dresser. They acted as focal points and framed each area. With injections of colour against the white walls, this room brought together the individual elements my client required and tied them in with the new elements that were added.” 

Entrance Hall

Adding colour and personalisation without clutter was the main challenge in the hallway. 

“By following the lines of the entrance way, I used a kilim-style floor runner to draw the eye towards the photo wall and industrial style circular mirror,” explains Emma. “On the adjacent wall, a series of natural oak Muuto dot hooks have been hung, which are both beautiful and functional, and tie in with the wooden elements in the entrance hall. In order to hit my client’s brief and inject colour, without cluttering the space, I used an industrial-style chair, which is the perfect place to leave a work bag after a long day.”

Master bedroom 

Emma wanted to give the bedroom a unique touch, with a piece of bespoke furniture to make the bed the centre-point of the room. 

“The existing built-in wardrobe meant that a lot of furniture pieces were not needed. Instead, the bed was the largest piece in the room. I felt it needed to be centre stage, so I used a few pieces of furniture and accessories to complement it and turn it into a focal point,” says Emma. “We commissioned a local company, Flotsam, to create a bespoke, industrial-style, multi-textured headboard that took up all of the wall space, both in height and width. We used the main colours of teal, blue, grey, white, and black that feature within the apartment and brought in the warmth of copper, which is present in little details in the room, such as the alarm clock. A grey chunky knit throw, tan leather stool, teal industrial pendant, navy blue full-length curtains and yellow cushions bring the colours together and create a unique, relaxing master bedroom.”

Design feature: Bespoke furniture 

“The apartment is made up of a lot of bespoke pieces, which are original to this apartment,” says Emma. 

Flotsam were commissioned to create more than just the headboard. They customised an off-the-shelf, industrial-style dresser to add some vital storage to the lounge. 

The client’s own dining table was also treated to customisation. It was brought back to life by painting the legs in jade green and sanding and oiling the top. 

The gallery wall features four bespoke shelves painted white to blend with the wall. They showcase a number of pieces, including locally inspired prints by Bristol artists.

Design feature: Colour 

“I did not want the colours to be fighting in each room. Instead, I wanted each room to be complementary and tie in seamlessly. This has been achieved by using the same base colours and materials, in this case blue and teal, white and oak, and then subtly introducing a variety of other colours to create a subtle change and individuality in each room,” says Emma.

The colour schemes for each room are: 

Teal/blue, green, pink, and yellow in the lounge and dining room

Teal/blue, red and green in the guest bedroom

Teal/blue, black and copper in the master room

For more information on EB Interiors, visit

13th Jan 2017

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