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June 1, 2020 – Published in Design & Decor Spring 2012 issue

Designer insight

Words: Deana Luchia

Photography: Alan Carville

The owner of this property approached interior designer James Dimech when it was still in shell form. The property is a lower penthouse that forms part of a block (owned in its entirety by the owner) in Żonqor Point, Wied Il-Għajn.

The owner wanted to keep the property for himself and to furnish it in a contemporary style. And, since this man is an expert in Light Technology he wanted to combine a contemporary design with some of the latest lighting technology.

‘This fusion worked pretty well,’ explains James. ‘And as a designer I learned a lot, especially through working hand in hand with such a flexible client who also has a keen eye for detail and a good sense of design.’

Like most modern apartments, the main door of this property opens directly onto an open plan kitchen, living and dining area. ‘One of the key issues with the design was considering how to conceal this main door from the inside, to have it blend in with the interior. We also needed to decide on the furniture layout, including the kitchen with its small breakfast island, and a fireplace which we wanted to have as a focal point. Other items needing to be perfectly positioned included a large LED TV, a home theatre projector with a big screen, comfortable seating and a dining table with six chairs.’

Considering the space this was no easy task. There were additional factors to take into consideration too, such as a functional concealed type air conditioning system, proper ceiling lights and ceiling speakers.

James began by choosing the flooring: a ceramic 40x60 greyish tile with a hint of green, from Satariano. ‘When choosing the floor tile I already had it in my mind that I would keep using the same tile in the main bathroom and the ensuite,’ says James. ‘However I introduced two types of marble in the main bathroom: Bianco Zebrino Marble used as a wall feature in the walk-in shower and behind the toilet and Grigio Bilemi Marble as a shower tray and supporting base to a particular cubic wash hand basin. While I used the same Grigio Bilemi Marble for the ensuite shower tray, I introduced a pebbled tile as a backdrop to the shower mixer just to obtain a more casual yet elegant style.’ The marble was sourced from Halmann Vella.

In the open plan a high gloss Bordeaux combined with black appliances and a black glass top was used for the kitchen units. ‘Although this may seem to be a pretty daring choice when seen together with the walnut wall lining and furniture trimmings used in the living/dining area, the Bordeaux was just the colour I needed,’ notes James.

For the dining area, James wanted to create an elegant room, hence the backdrop of walnut panels combined with a pretty chandelier. ‘The walnut panel also helped to conceal the main door from the inside,’ says James, detailing his appealing design. ‘The big mirror may seem to be just an aesthetic feature but that was the cherry on the cake as apart from giving depth to the dining area, the frame also hides the home theatre which projects onto a big screen hidden under a gypsum pelmet.’

In all three bedrooms James used wallpaper as a feature. ‘In the spare bedrooms I built a colour scheme and also a design concept around the wallpaper designs. In both rooms the furniture is very basic so in the small room I created a concept using a two-tone wallpaper featuring important cities around the word and adding three wall clocks in white, red and blue. This matched the soft furnishings which I designed myself combining plain fabrics with a striped and a patterned one.

The large spare bedroom has green and red as its main colours and once again I combined the design of the wall mounted pigeon-hole shelves to match the design motive on the wall paper.’

This main bedroom has a custom designed bed constructed and upholstered by James’ business partner Mark Tufigno. ‘The best part of this room cannot be seen,’ says James. ‘It may look spacious and home a good sized wardrobe too but there is more to it than that: the angled corner unit leads to another small room. It’s like going into a walk-in wardrobe from the actual wardrobe.’

Another interesting feature in the main bedroom is the door of the ensuite. ‘When this door opens from the bedroom it closes the toilet area giving privacy to the person using the toilet while someone else is showering or using the hand basin. Apart from this particular function I also designed all the doors in the apartment and in this case I introduced three slabs of fused glass into a clean walnut face. Day and night, the fused glass creates a nice effect in the corridor which is dressed with some original paintings from my client’s collection.’

The hi-tech gadgetry is one of the apartment’s many features, including state of the art lighting, switches, dimmers and speakers. ‘A new range of switches and dimmers by AVE Touch is completely hidden behind a glass front plate, all sensitive to a simple touch,’ says James. ‘And thanks to a soft LED, the light shines from the back of the front plate and is also immediately visible in the dark. Three stripes on the front plate surface signals the point where you have to touch, while a light “tick” confirms whether it’s on or off.’

The apartment’s illumination is provided entirely by Megaman LED lamps, a true low energy replacement for halogen and incandescent lamps. A variety of reflectors and lamp sizes were installed to achieve various degrees of ambience and intense gradients of illumination.

Ceiling mounted flush speakers provide stereo sound from a multi-room audio system where you can control what rooms you want music in with keypads and touchscreens. ‘You can play Strawberry Fields in the bathroom from an ipod, opera in the kitchen from a multi-changing CD and tune in to your favourite radio station on the balcony all at the same time.’

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