Art Gallery or Home? Join Us on a Tour of the St. John’s Wood Iceberg Mansion

Thursday, January 31, 2019

St. John’s Wood Iceberg Mansion is part gallery, part office, part home – spread over five generous floors, two of which are below ground.

Our brief was to design a house that could accommodate our client’s art collection, their work needs and their social life without any aspect feeling compromised. Join me on a tour of this spectacular home to find out how we achieved their brief and more.


First Impressions Are Everything


New build house in St. John's Wood

As we were designing a brand new house in a conservation area, it was crucial that its appearance suited its surroundings, both in structure and materials.

We determined that a Georgian aesthetic would be most appropriate for St. John’s Wood, with sash windows, lead dormers, well-defined quoins and white timber dentils and soffits. We spent more time agonising over the right brick and mortar than any other project I’ve worked on!

The stone portico surrounding the front door matches the Georgian style while also forming a 1.2 metre canopy, which ticked off a Lifetime Homes criteria, earning us points towards the now defunct Code for Sustainable Homes assessment.

We also completely refreshed the landscaping, with help from garden designer Emma Griffin. Designing landscaping in tandem with the architecture allows the structure to sit more naturally in its site, vital for a new house which we want to look as if it had always been there.

Modern garden in St. John's Wood

Emma Griffin’s landscaping works continue in the garden, where a generous terrace joins a glass walkway leading to the rear extension, with stairs down to the first basement floor on either side.

The more modern, rectangular design of the rear extension blends with the Georgian main structure through the use of matching materials and design elements, such as the defined quoins, Flemish bond brickwork and white French doors.


The Art of Designing Around Art


Contemporary living room in St. John's Wood

Walk over the glass walkway, through the French doors and you enter the living room, flooded with natural light not only from the garden but also through the roof lights.

Above the wall-filling triptych at the back of the photo is a gallery-style track lighting system, which allows spotlights to be plugged in and moved along the track to customise lighting for each art piece.

Our client’s vast art collection was central to the design, as they would be regularly rotating the works displayed. As such, the colour palette was kept almost entirely neutral besides a few statement pieces, instead relying on the client’s art to provide colour and excitement.

Bespoke polished plaster fireplace London

Turn around and you’re immediately struck by the sculptural polished plaster fireplace – a work of art in its own right – created by the artisans at Perucchetti Studio.

At the top left of the image you can spot another track light pointed at the sculpture below, while on the top right there is a void into which the blinds have retracted, ready to roll down at the touch of a button.


There’s No Better Lighting than the Sun


Bespoke sculptural staircase in London home

Here we’re standing in entranceway’s three-storey atrium, forming a vast gallery space which makes a breathtaking first impression.

The stairwell fills a void which stretches all the way from the second basement floor to the roof, allowing natural light to reach the deepest depths of the home. At the back of the stairwell, a fire rated glass panel provides an uninterrupted view from the front door to the garden, while open treads let light shine through the staircase.

St. John's Wood private art gallery

Looking up, you can appreciate the awesome scale of this space, with room for even the largest paintings. On the left, you can see the entrance to the library and the master bedroom through the walkway above, and to the right is the monolithic stone bar.

The black stone – provided by Stone Age – was specifically chosen to match the black in the painting hanging above it, which is a favourite piece of the client.

Red artisanal polished plaster wall in London mansion

This red polished plaster wall, meanwhile, was chosen to match the red from the painting – which may be the only art piece which will not be moved.

Also created by the artisans at Perucchetti Studio, the unique texture of this wall is formed by layering plaster mixed with crushed marble and precious metals. This layering continues for a couple of weeks until it is finally polished to reveal unique patterns created by the layering process.

Bespoke joinery, bookcase and art display in London

Joinery from Living Space fills the wall of the library, with integrated illuminated art displays which are linked up to the house-wide smart lighting system.

On the right, you can make out a sliding wall, here opened up to create a continuous space through the ground floor. These sliding walls separate each section, allowing the arrangement of the floor to be customised for any occasion, from private meetings to packed parties.

This uninterrupted flow from one space to the next is completed by the use of polished silver emperador marble tiles throughout the ground and first basement floor, provided by Mandarin Stone.


Complete Bliss, Hidden Two Storeys Below Ground


Stact wine cellar in London

When designing the floor plans, the reach of natural light determined how each space would be used. Here, in the second basement floor, the limited natural light made it the perfect location for the art store, plant room and sauna and wine cellar.

Behind a fire rated glass door, the modular wine racks from Stact makes the bottles appear to float in the air. On the back wall, slips of reclaimed brick are suggestive of an an underground cellar, painted white to brighten a space which could easily have felt dull and forgotten.

Traditional Japanese bath tub in London mansion

Finally, a traditional timber and steel Japanese bath tub from Japan Garden is the highlight of the second basement floor. A normal tap would take hours to fill such a massive tub, so we used a Dornbracht MEM filler with a dedicated hot water cylinder – able to fill the tub to the brim in just 20 minutes.

Matching the red cedar of the bath tub are red cedar floorboards and a bespoke stair up into the tub, while 3D Talco tiles from Porcelain Tiles add texture to the wall. It’s the perfect place to unwind after a hard day of work, or after viewing all five storeys of our client’s incredible private art collection.

This tour revealed just a handful of the thousands of creative decisions that go into our designs. If you want us to help you turn your dream home into a reality, get in touch with us at [email protected] or 02037331071.

Michael Gwynn

Want to learn more about the St. John’s Wood Iceberg Mansion? Click here for an interview with the clients.

Suppliers for St. John’s Wood Iceberg Mansion


Garden design by Emma Griffin:

Polished plaster fireplace and wall by Perucchetti Studio:

Black stone for monolith bar provided by Stone Age:

Silver emperador marble tiles provided by Mandarin Stone:

Modular wine rack by Stact:

Japanese bath tub provided by Japan Garden:

Bath tub filler provided by Dornbracht:

3D Talco tiles provided by Porcelain Tiles: