Project of the Month – February 2023

Refurbishment of a Knightsbridge Apartment

In 2019, Georgie Baker, a multi-trade property maintenance and refurbishment specialist based in Witham, Essex, was contacted by a client who found his details on the Dulux Decorator site. The client’s project was based in Knightsbridge, West London, and involved a complete overhaul of a property built in 1870. After months of planning, conversations, and site meetings, the project finally commenced.

The client was heavily involved in the process, which was quite unusual for a job of this scale. Despite initial reservations, Georgie agreed to work with the client closely. The two developed a good friendship throughout the project, with the client even attending Georgie’s wedding. However, there were times when they fell out over differences in opinions, tastes, and what was realistically achievable. Nonetheless, both shared a desire for the apartment to be a showstopper.

The scope of work involved a full electrical rewire and installation of an alarm system, a new central heating system with underfloor heating, and a full bathroom refurbishment with large-format marble, bespoke limed oak furniture, and new sanitary ware. The existing kitchen was also upgraded and refitted with soft closers, porcelain worktops, and new appliances. Joinery work included the installation of panelling to the lounge and hall, bespoke French doors to the hall/lounge, and the refurbishment of existing wardrobes with new interior lighting, leather inserts, drawers, rails, and handles. Bespoke fluted TV units were also installed, and the floors and walls were insulated with Rockwall RWA45 insulation where possible. Other work included the installation of a STAS picture rail system, the refurbishment of a fireplace, decorative cornice repairs, and redecoration of all ceilings, walls, and woodwork. The doors were also Venetian plastered, and the kitchen and bathroom were fibreglass meshed.

The client and Georgie approached the project as if it were an artistic collaboration. New ideas were added as the project progressed, and they even designed uplighters for the lounge, which were made from 6mm marble cut into isosceles triangles and fittings from John Lewis bent and cut to hold them into place. 

The project took approximately 14 months to complete, spread over a 2.5-year period. One of the challenges Georgie faced was the client’s perfectionism, as in a property built in 1870’s perfection is an almost impossible task. The project also faced logistical challenges due to the pandemic. Items such as marble for the bathroom, porcelain for the kitchen, and leather for the wardrobes were being imported directly from Italy, which caused delays due to the lack of materials available in the country and the lockdowns. However, the fortunate thing was that the property was void, which allowed Georgie and the team to keep busy.

All paint used on the project was from the Paint & Paper Library on a monochromatic scheme, specified for its RIBA accreditation. All ceilings were painted clean white in pure flat matt. The wall colour is Leather 1 throughout the apartment in pure flat matt and woodwork and Kitchen and bathroom walls are also painted in Leather 1 in architects eggshell.

Most of the job was spray finished, with the exception of brush finishing the kitchen, bathroom walls and hand painting the cornice details.

Some of Georgie’s favourite elements of the job were what he deemed the ‘unchartered territory tasks’ that involved some techniques and products that he had never done before. For example, he used Giorgio Graesan pietra spaccata verticale to finish the doors, finished in Gioia and vetro naturale, and added paint effect vein to create more depth of finish. They are truly unique in their appearance and feel and are extremely reminiscent to slabs of travertine. The client was also keen to create ‘texture’ to the bathroom and kitchen walls, and Baker experimented with a way to apply fibreglass mesh to the walls without affecting the paint finish.

Finally, the refurbishment of the fireplace involved using Mirka abralon and polarshine products on the marble, fitting a new quartz hearth and surround, repointing the brickwork, and coating it with Blackfriars high heat black fire retardant paint. 

The biggest disaster during the job was the delivery of marble, with the first shipment arriving completely smashed. Georgie had to deliver the heartbreaking news to the client, who was in Greece attending business. Some panels had to be replaced, but the second shipment was successful, and the bathroom was completed some weeks later.

In conclusion, the refurbishment of the Knightsbridge apartment was a complete success. Georgie and the client worked together to create a stunning space that exceeded everyone’s expectations. The project is an example of how collaboration, creativity, and expertise can come together to achieve amazing results. 

Georgie Baker is the owner of Baker’s Property Maintenance, a multi-award winning business in Witham, Essex, specialising in property maintenance and refurbishment for the past ten years. Georgie’s background is multi-trade with a variety of qualifications in multiple finishing trades. A strong passion for art has always pushed Georgie to favour decorating over all skills. He’s heavily involved with Dulux Select Decorators and outside of his business, he has been a panel member for the past 6 years, mental health ambassador for the scheme and more recently was invited to join the Dulux Academy team as an associate member meaning he will be delivering courses to the decorating industry in the not too distant future. Career highlights include appearing on Changing Rooms, The Great Interiors Design Battle, and winning multiple awards throughout his career. To date Georgie has been shortlisted for 10 awards, won 4 and received 2 highly commended.

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