Real Living: Cool, calm and collected
Inside...and out: Sebastian Bergne's flat is as cosy and chaotic as the next person's. But one clean, white room is his refuge. Cayte Williams reports
Sunday 21 December 1997
However, industrial designer Sebastian Bergne has found a solution. Bergne is famous for his bright bottle-brush coat hangers which have featured in every magazine from Vogue to the American style bible, Harper's Bazaar, but he's more content designing home products and lamps, which invariably come in white. His flat is a cosy, homely affair apart from one white, minimalist room - and that mostly by default.
"We moved into our flat at the height of summer four years ago and it was in such an horrendous state we ripped everything out and started again," he says. Bergne and his wife, Emmanuelle, first thought of white walls when the sun poured into the west-facing rooms.
"We're two storeys up, so when we painted the walls white, the setting sun turned them the colour of the sky, either pink or orange. Even when the sky is blue, it turns the walls blue. The shadows are very long in here, so when you leave the windows wide open on a summer's night and can hear people playing tennis on the courts below, you feel like you're actually outside."
Bergne chose soft blues, warm oranges and woody shades to complement his freshly-painted white room. Even the floor is painted white, so the coloured furniture looks like it's floating in a milky void. "The floorboards were in a terrible state," he confesses, "we had stripped them and we realised we were never going to get them back to the full wood without a huge amount of work. Now the floor looks wonderful because its texture contrasts with the smooth walls".
It's not just the colour scheme that makes this room work, but also the lack of pretension. Although Bergne's designs - a slanting standard lamp, a porcelain "torso" light and flat, domino-shaped "Lio" light - add pared- down style to the space, it gets a sense of homeliness from a well-worn family piano, a huge map of Antarctica and wooden toy trucks on the coffee table.
"The more stuff we've acquired, the less clear the room's become as a concept," explains Bergne. "It gets very busy, very quickly but it stays reasonably clean. We take care not to clutter it too much, and that's why it's important to have other rooms, because they are nice and cosy and full of books and papers."
The wall dividing the white room from cosier living quarters has two interior windows which are original Edwardian features. An array of Bergne's white stacking jars line the shelves along with some simple, original Sixties pots.
The fireplace is the focus of the room and has been restored to its original glory. They've resisted any temptation to paint it white - "we had to strip endless layers of gloss paint," remembers Bergne, "and it took us two weeks to get to the tiles."
Throughout the room are plain, square alcoves which catch the shadows cast by the sun and lamp light. In one is a white textured painting by French artist Alain Huet above a beautiful soft-blue armchair. In the far corner sits a white chair by fashion designer Ally Cappellino ("she left it there, and has never been back to collect it," he says).
"One of things I like about a white room is that you can practically put any furniture in here and it would look interesting," Bergne says. But getting a Persil-white room is not as easy as it sounds. "We decided to concentrate on four important elements: the sofa, the fireplace, the table and the map," he continues. "You can't be precious about what you put in a white room. It's best to have two or three basic things that work and not worry about the rest. It's also much better to have lamps to add texture, rather than a general central light which flattens the whole space."
The great thing about a white room is that you won't spend a fortune on expensive paints and finishes. "You get a lot of companies producing white paint with hints of pink and yellow, but I prefer regular, pure- white emulsion paint because it refects all the other colours around it," Bergne explains. Jocasta Innes, eat your heart out.
Sebastian Bergne's famous coat hangers cost pounds 14.95, the Lio lamp costs pounds 75, both from Viaduct, 1-10 Summers St, London EC1; 0171 278 8456.
Life & Style blogs
Astrological signs are almost all wrong, as movement of moon and sun throws out zodiac
McDonald’s launches clothing line using Big Mac prints
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?
Clocks change: how to make sure iPhone and smartphones automatically ‘spring forward’
Curvy model Kate Upton is returning to the big screen for the film The Layover
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest
- 1 Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
- 2 JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Jeremy Clarkson calls on trolls to leave producer Oisin Tymon alone: 'None of this is his fault'
£50000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued business growt...
£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established and expanding ...