‘I was looking for an unconventional space with artistic potential,’ says wellness entrepreneur, sustainability advocate and writer Marie-Cassandre Bultheel. When she first stepped into this two-storey apartment in London’s Earl’s Court Square, however, what greeted her was, she admits, ‘an open-plan cube without any charm.’ That didn’t stop her from seeing the vast potential here.
‘I just had to find a person capable of understanding my vision,’ explains Marie-Cassandre, who teamed up with Russian-born, London-based interior designer Olga Ashby.
Together, after 10 months of hard work, they have created a home that reflects not only Marie-Cassandre’s way of life, but also her values – since founding her company, Sustainable Humanity, in 2019, her mission has been to ‘shake the world, in a gentle way’ by supporting grassroots projects and government initiatives.
‘Mother nature is the best inspiration,’ says Olga, who began this apartment’s redesign by focusing on the curve of the mezzanine and the living area’s three windows. ‘They were a bit too short for the space,’ she recalls, explaining how she added circular mirrors above to better suit the five-metre-high ceilings and bounce light into this home’s upper level, which contains the main bedroom, as well as a bathroom and study.
‘The curves and textures seem to dance together to calm my mind, which can sometimes be too busy,’ says Marie-Cassandre. ‘I love the fluidity. It’s a mix of sophistication and simplicity.’
To increase the feeling of this being an inner-city sanctuary, the pair selected an earthy, neutral colour palette that blends with natural materials, including wood sourced from sustainable forests, linen and micro-cement.
Arches and niches were added behind the kitchen to balance the apartment’s existing curves and create storage space for Marie-Cassandre’s many vintage books and artefacts collected on her travels. From a handmade African stool to an Indian candlestick, every piece has its place, as does every single item of furniture, the positioning of which was overseen by a feng shui expert, entrusted to ensure this home’s harmony and balance.
There’s a seamless flow to designs like the sinuous vintage sofa, purchased from the Stefania Gastaldo gallery in Italy, and the bespoke micro-cement coffee table by Olga that makes entering this central London retreat feel like an invitation to slow down.
‘When I come back after a trip, I have the feeling of arriving in a refuge,’ says Marie-Cassandre. ‘Like the world stands still and your troubles disappear,’ agrees Olga. In our stressful modern times, this is true luxury. olgaashby.com; sustainable-humanity.com