Interiors: The new show apartments in the former BBC Television Centre are a lesson in how to do 70s retro decor well

Laura Ivill
The living room in 710 Helios

If you have fond memories of Saturday morning TV in the 1970s – Multi-Coloured Swap Shop and its gaggle of pop-tastic guests trailing in and out of Television Centre – then you’ll be excited to visit the Grade II-listed BBC building in White City, which has been restored and reopened as a smorgasboard of homes, shops, bars, restaurants, and even modernised TV studios.

You may not be so keen, however, to recreate the colour-saturated interiors of 1970s homes. But the West London creatives behind two upscale showhomes recently launched in the development have embraced this aesthetic and demonstrate how it can be done with confidence.

Helios apartment designers Bella Freud and Maria Speake

Say hello to Apartment 710 in the mid-century modern Helios building. Decorated by fashion designer Bella Freud and Maria Speake, of salvage specialists Retrouvius, it has all the colourful verve of a 1970s home but with a high-spec fit-out and funky art (Freud is the daughter of the late artist Lucian Freud). The styling and innovative use of colour-blocking is an exciting example of developers willing to take a risk to sell high-end in a cold property climate.

“These designers are not used by other developers, they are independent and authentic,” says Peter Allen, sales and marketing director of developer Stanhope, who commissioned Freud and Speake. “Bella has never done a home for anyone else. Her first showhome is dressed in her personal style, which makes it part-show apartment and part-fashion installation.”

The Helios building from the outside

Texture and colour-blocking are everywhere, demonstrating that luxury living doesn’t have to mean beige. “The bold colour, eclecticism and glamour of the 1970s was really our starting point for this space,” says Freud on her partnership with Speake. “I love the way colour suddenly invaded everything in the 1970s – orange, red, purple and black walls. When you look at Hockney’s paintings, it gives you a good idea of how interiors can be glamourised by colour.”

On sale as one of 20 premium apartments in Television Centre (from £2.5m to £4m), Freud and Speake have been set loose to splash angelica green, lipstick red and marigold yellow on walls and floors, and go wild with animal prints and impeccable vintage furniture. Helios 710 is one of five architectural designs for the premium apartments, called The Architects’ Series, and is a three-bedroom 2,202sqft duplex with two terraces on sale for £3.925m.

801 Crescent apartment designed by Fran Hickman

For texture, they went for understated cork and corduroy, combining this with the interior architects’ distinctly upmarket use of fluted marble in the kitchen and bathrooms. Speake says, “The world has finally caught up with corduroy, but both of us have had a corduroy obsession since forever. We chose to mix textures – glass, brass and hessian – with striking hues. The glass-topped dining table, for example, allows you to see through to the vintage Cesca chairs by Marcel Breuer.”

Over at the Crescent (the new-build element of the campus overlooking a private courtyard garden and Hammersmith Park), Apartment 801 is interior designed by Fran Hickman and on sale for £4.15m. The colour-blocking synergy with Helios 710 is startling, giving vibrancy to all the rooms – aubergine, soft pink, turquoise, deep green – along with sumptuous handpainted silk panels by Anna Glover as wall coverings. Hickman is hugely in-demand by clients, counting the new pop-up Goop store – Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand – in Westbourne Grove as one of her most recent headline-grabbing projects.

Is this colour-blocking an early 2019 West London trend? “West London is not about hipster,” Speake says, “it’s a mixture of grand and grime.”

Visit to book a viewing at Helios 710 and Crescent 801