Project: contemporary apartment design

Almost a year ago I was asked to help design an open plan apartment in contemporary vibe. It was one of my Room Design – my online interior design service projects so today I want to walk you through the stages and my final proposal. Let’s start with the concept.

So the brief was to design open plan kitchen, dining and living area in neutral tones for a young professional couple. I asked my client to send me some images from Houzz so I could see what style and colour palette she was after. These were my starting points (including the one above).

I had completely clean slate with the design. The apartment at that time wasn’t even built yet. I had only these plans as my guide.

Contemporary apartment plan karolina barnes studio


I started with the floor plan to define each area and functional zoning. The requirements were a corner sofa, a bubble hanging chair and contemporary features with a little bit of glam.

Open plan living floorplan


I started my design based on the kitchen which was already selected by my client. This is how it was looking in the showroom. Clean modern lines with LED integrated lighting and glass cabinets with gloss finish frame. There would be an island dividing the kitchen area from the dining area.

Open plan kitchen karolina barnes studio

From the images I got sent I got the feeling that they wanted to make the fireplace wall as the main feature. I included LED lighting and proposed to cover the wall in metallic iron tiles. For storage we decided that wall hung high gloss units on either side of the fireplace would be the best option.  We discussed the flooring and it was a case of deciding between polished marble tiles or walnut engineered wood. The walls I kept in neutral and we settled on Farrow & Ball Skimming Stone. Here’s my first design with marble flooring as option.

Open plan contemporary living room

And here’s option 2 with walnut engineered wood flooring.




I introduced the glam feminine features through the wall lights and table lamps. To define the living area from the dining area I decided to put a transparent modern console table behind the corner sofa.

Moodboard living area


transparent bubble chair


Glass console table

Now the dining area…

Open plan dining room karolina barnes studio


I chose the dining furniture from Bo Concept. The collection is called Ottawa and is designed by Karim Rashid.  Take a closer look.


BoConcept Ottawa chair


The sideboard comes in various finishes and endless options in terms of the width, depth, drawers and materials. I chose white high gloss with natural wood drawers.

The table is also high gloss in white with very contemporary shape and size.


The lighting features and the mirror were the main elements through which I got the feminine and glam feel into the space. Murano glass Sputnik (in the kitchen area which you can’t see) and Porta Romana Luca chandelier above the dining table were the main players and  the”look at me” guys. I tried to balance the materials with glass, metals and ceramics.


I really like the table lamps on the sideboard. They are in dusty pink with white silk shades. They are also from Porta Romana. Their showroom is in Chelsea Harbour Design Centre in London and the prices were for around £750 each,in case you wondered. There are made to order and it can take up to 8 weeks for delivery. So include that into your planning stage.

Porta Romana table lamp

The sofa I chose was in white Italian leather so we needed to dress it with some fun and cool cushions. I mixed geometric patterns in velvet and glazed linen. Curtains would be in wool silk fabric from Mark Alexander. If they wanted more texture in the apartment I also chose a grasscloth wallpaper from Phillip Jeffries instead of the Farrow & Ball paint.

Contemporary open plan living fabrics

So there you have it. What do you think guys? I’m hoping to have final photos for you soon. Happy to source any products featured in this project.  Hope you’re having a great day so far.

Resource list: Metallic tiles from Fired Earth / wall hung storage units from Ikea / corner sofa from Dwell /bubble chair from Made in Design/ floor lamp from Heals / all other lighting from Porta Romana /glass console table Marks & Spencer / dining table, chairs and sideboard from Bo Concept. Fabrics and wallpaper: Romo, Clarke & Clarke,  Phillip Jeffries.

Karolina Barnes Studio


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