Interior designer Orla Collins reveals her glamorous apartment

Creating inspiring and timeless interiors is second nature to designer Orla Collins. The ex-model turned interior designer has worked her magic on her West London flat. She has transformed what was once a dingy, rundown apartment into a chic, glamorous one-bed pad. Take a look here...

To begin with, Orla gutted the place, knocking through walls and tearing down false ceilings, until the bones of it began to emerge and the serious decorating could begin. Her redesign created a sitting room that opens onto the kitchen and a shower room that opens onto the bedroom. Aside from a separate bathroom and some built-in cupboards in the front hall, that’s it. It’s a neat, streamlined solution, which cleverly cracks the small-space problem. It’s also deeply luxurious, comfortable and sexy.

Once you’ve taken in the stunning furnishings, the statement lighting and the mushroom and purple colour scheme, it’s the attention to detail that strikes you. Orla is a perfectionist and she’s proud of it. ‘Everything from the skirting boards to the lampshades has been carefully thought through,’ she says.

Her bedroom is just three metres squared, but even so, it delivers quite an impact. ‘It started with the wallpaper, which I think looks a million dollars,’ she says. The carved four-poster bed, strewn with silk cushions is pretty imposing too, filling almost the entire room. There’s just enough space for a pair of bedside tables, on top of which are two lamps with theatrically feathered shades. ‘Don’t you just love them!’ she laughs.

Leading out of the bedroom is a wide hallway, which houses the tiny en-suite shower room. Here glass mosaic tiles cover the walls and a Perspex coffee table, with a hole cut into it, makes a unique stand for the small purple basin.

The living room is a lesson in chic boutique-hotel style, with sofas covered in seal-coloured linen, reproduction art-deco armchairs and a centrepiece chandelier. Next to the fireplace three tall vases, each sporting a purple hydrangea stand sentry. ‘The three flowers have become my signature, along with the colour purple, of course,’ she explains.

Meticulous attention to detail has gone into Orla’s redesign. Custom cornices and skirting boards were made, extra-tall doors were installed, and sleek, made-to-measure kitchen storage has been fitted. Orla admits that she never cooks, so it was important for the space to be as un-kitchen-like as possible. The sink and hob are hidden away when not in use, leaving the surfaces completely flush. A splash of aubergine under the island unit and a chandelier within a metallic drum shade add colour and a touch of drama.

Orla has fitted down-lighters in strategic positions around the flat to create different moods. ‘In the kitchen alone, I have four light circuits: a set of three skim-light the cupboards, a middle set highlights the worktop and another set throws light onto the blinds.’ In the sitting room, a tiny ceiling lamp throws a single point of light onto the coffee table, which creates a soothing ambiance, especially in the evening. ‘Lighting has to be decorative as well as functional. That’s very important.’

A cream vinyl floor runs between the rooms. ‘I’d love to have had parquet, but it would have smashed my budget, and this stuff is fantastic quality, feels great underfoot, and it has really good acoustic qualities, which is important in a flat,’ she says.

Designing luxury spaces comes second nature to Orla. Her company, Purple Design creates dynamic interiors with a subtle sense of glamour and a strong sense of individuality. ‘Having your own creative identity is essential in this business. I absolutely do not follow trends. If there’s a rule to be broken, I’ll break it.’ It’s a principle that clearly works.

Orla's top 5 tips for luxury living in a small space

1. Don’t assume that white is the answer to living in a small space. Dramatic wallpaper and big pieces of furniture can work well and stop the space from looking sterile.

2. Cornicing and skirting boards are as important as the furniture. If you can’t afford custom made, buy the very best you can afford off the shelf.

3. I love verticality and have used tall openings and high doors between rooms, This creates lovely views from one room into another and opens up the white space.

4. Using the same floor covering throughout creates unity, whether its parquet or cheap-as-chips vinyl.

5. Well-planned lighting will turn a bland space into something special. Use down-lighters and dimmers as well as one-off ceiling fixtures.

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Ruth Corbett, Guest Editor

View all posts by Ruth Corbett, Guest Editor