It was nearly ten years ago that property developer Rhys Cole bought his ground-floor two-bedroom apartment in a 1920s-built mansion block in Chelsea. One day a couple of years ago, he heard a whisper that the flat below might be for sale. ‘I knew immediately that the two apartments combined had the potential to become a spacious home, and one that felt more like a proper house,’ says Rhys.

Eventually successful in his bid to buy the lower ground level flat, Rhys set about converting the two apartments into one. Following up a recommendation from a friend, he called on the expertise of designer Thomas Griem of TG Studio to plan how to combine the properties. ‘It made sense to convert the ground floor into a large lateral living, dining and kitchen space, with three bedrooms and bathrooms on the lower level,’ explains Rhys.

With a large family and lots of friends, Rhys chose to devote one half of the ground floor to the kitchen-dining room, with a brief to Thomas to create a space geared towards his love of cooking and entertaining. ‘It was important to me that there would be enough space for all the family to congregate, with room for a large, circular dining table,’ he says. ‘When I was growing up, my mum would drive me mad by ringing round restaurants to find one with a round table – and only then would she make a booking. But now I understand why, because it is a great way to bring everyone together.’

‘Beyond the request for the table, I left pretty much everything else up to Thomas and his team, because I was excited to see what they would come up with,’ continues Rhys. Now he says he appreciates the distinct ‘zones’ of the room, especially since he will have guests for dinner or drinks five nights out of seven. ‘I can be getting on with cooking at the hob while chatting to friends sitting on the stools, then we can move over to the table, next to the bar,’ he says. ‘It’s great for entertaining, but it is also a space that is beautifully peaceful for coffee and the papers at breakfast.’

Q&A with Thomas Griem, founder and director, TG Studio

How did you begin the project?
The first task was to totally re-organise the layout to combine the apartments, and to break open the floor to put in a new staircase. When it came to the kitchen-dining room, Rhys was very clear that he wanted a fantastic, large space for entertaining, so we began to develop a design with cooking, preparation, socialising and dining areas, in a way that respects the building in which the room sits and maximises the sense of expansive light and space.

How did you do this?
To accentuate the very high ceiling, we repaired and added more of the original stucco and cornice work. Then we created a layout which makes the most of the beautiful natural light, with the dining table positioned in front of the bay window. Tall wall cabinets conceal a bar with a wine fridge, positioned close to the dining table, with the cooking area and built-in ovens close to the island, with its sink and preparation surface. Friends can sit on bar stools and talk to Rhys while he is cooking, without getting in his way.

Can you tell us about the materials and finishes?
The tall cupboards are veneered in dark walnut which adds both warmth and definition to the space, contrasting with the central section in crisp white lacquer. The island is designed to look like a large piece of stone, a dramatic feature in the centre of the room, with cupboard doors in a tactile, concrete-effect finish.

Clean, crisp lines give this bespoke kitchen a contemporary feel, while dark wood and textured surfaces introduce warmth and character. Sleek built-in appliances echo the streamlined design, and a statement ceramic-wrapped island introduces a note of theatre.

TG Studio
10 Rathbone Place, London, W1T 1HP.
Tel 020 7636 3838.


H6860 oven, £3,849; H6400 BM combination microwave, £2,325; ESW6214 warming drawer, £1,125; similar induction hob, KM 6629, £2,449; KFN37692 iDE integrated fridge-freezer, £2,899; similar wine conditioning unit, KWT6322 UG, £3,199; G6260 SCVi fully integrated dishwasher, £1,299; Miele. Cache 1100 built-in extractor, from £930, Westin.

Kitchen furniture Bespoke in walnut veneer, white matt lacquer and grey concrete-effect, with ceramic worktops and splashback, kitchen prices from £25,000, Gemini Design. Fusion Square combination boiling water and mixer tap, £1,150, Quooker. Clearwater Stereo under-mounted stainless steel sinks STE65, £564, and STE40, £390, Sterling. Auber engineered European oak flooring, priced to order, Hakwood. Monmouth bar stools, priced to order, Alter London, covered in Genova Azul Claro G5063-019, £118.40 per m, Gaston y Daniela. Desalto Clay dining table, from £2,895, Chaplins. Similar dining chairs, SMA Armonia, from £320 each, Go Modern. Clear glass 15-branch chandelier, priced to order, RV Astley. Bird paintings, set of 12, £265, OKA. Eclat RM 631 94 wallcovering, £494.20 per roll, Elitis. Blinds in Portofino linen, £105.60 per m, Pierre Frey. Entrance hall Louis eight-light chandelier, priced to order, RV Astley. Finsbury ottoman, priced to order, Alter London, in Odeon Bottle Green velvet, £150m, Holland & Sherry. Capri textile 65-1380 wallcovering, priced to order, Stereo Interiors.

All prices correct at time of publication

Photos by: Jake Fitzjones

Article by: Amelia Thorpe