Turning penthouse living inside out: Tara Bernerd on creatin­­­g interiors that stand the test of time

Melissa York
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One the Elephant features some of the largest garden terraces in London

If you’re the sort of person who forks out on a luxury penthouse at the top of a London skyscraper, then it’s safe to say you’ve got a lot of cash to splash. It’s probably not your only home either, rather one of many, but etiquette dictates that you have to furnish it with a veneer of modesty. Interior designer Tara Bernerd calls this styling “informal luxury” and it’s what she does best.

The Belgravia-based firm is increasingly spreading its brand of understated glamour around the globe, having worked on projects in the US, China and Switzerland. Closer to home, the team has kitted out the private members clubs at The Heron near Liverpool Street Station and Raffles on the King’s Road in Chelsea.

Bernerd used industrial finishes like the smoked wood floorboards throughout the apartments

But for her most recent challenge, Bernerd had to completely rethink the way she approached design. The Skyscape collection at One the Elephant – a 37-storey landmark tower in Elephant and Castle – claims to turn “penthouse living inside out”. They feature some of the largest garden terraces in London, coming in at around 900sqft, which is bigger than most studio apartments. Bernerd was asked to design three of the uppermost penthouses, which have three or four terraces each.
To her, the abundance of space meant she could create “zones” within these vast open spaces that sectioned off areas for living, while still remaining flexible so buyers could easily turn a dining room into a home office if they chose. “We wanted to keep everything open-plan, while giving real consideration to the different areas one might demand out of everyday living, which was very much about the light,” says Bernerd.
To create a continuous flow between the large terraces and indoor space, she used industrial finishes that worked inside and out, like the smoked wood floorboards throughout the apartments, steel doors and wide glass panels. “We are bringing a very modern, edgy building with a huge amount of character to an area that offers significant potential for buyers. The developer Lend Lease really allowed us to explore, creating the best layouts and then trusting us to refine a very handsome, but informal luxury,” says Bernerd.

Bernerd wanted to create a continuous flow between the large terraces and indoor space

Potential is an understatement in itself as One The Elephant will house 284 out of 3,000 new homes being built on what many consider to be the last undeveloped site in Zone 1. Over the next 10 years, the area will also see a revamped shopping centre, over 50 new shops and the construction of central London’s biggest new park in 70 years.
The large outdoor spaces are not the tower’s only green credentials either; it’s the tallest completed building to meet Level 4 of the government’s Code of Sustainable Homes for energy efficiency. It’s Bernerd’s job to ensure the interiors aren’t overshadowed by the exterior, but she says she’s more than capable of meeting the challenge. The furnishings are key to “creating a feel of authenticity with the area and to the people who will make this their home, and to produce something with a stamp of its own that stands the test of time.”
Prices for the penthouses at One The Elephant start at £2.5m. Visit onetheelephant.com for more information.

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