A blank canvas

18 June 2012
Ben Pentreath

But really what is on my mind at the moment is this. I am moving flat. Not very far; about 2 minutes up the road, to Queen Square… which will have the effect of tripling my commute; from a one minute walk to work, to three. (I think a good thing – you can in fact be too close to work).

I’ve been in my tiny flat on Great Ormond Street for 8 years now, and I love it. I wasn’t even thinking of moving. But when my friend Mo called me up to tell me about the upper flat that was coming up on the top floor of the building where she works, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss, not only to have a bit more space, and a (tiny) spare bedroom, but also a roof terrace… Woohoo. Outside space in London.

And if you recall a posting I made some time ago, A tight fit, it is probably clear to you that things were getting a bit full up. Someone wise wrote in that comment section about my Fornasetti chest of drawers: “While your flat is marvelous, you will not be in it forever, and the chest will find a suitable home in some new Ben Abode”.  How prescient. Oh and how flattering… hehe.

At the moment I am debating paint colours. Hmmmmm. Why is it always much easier to pick for other people than yourself?  Questions like, do I want another pink sitting room in my life, or is it time for a change? I can’t quite decide. I suspect one or two readers will be happy to give me some advice!

But what’s really special about the new flat is the big room at the front, overlooking Queen Square. Here it is, taking shape. The whole place needed a bit of tender care, which is partly a case, at the moment, of creating quite a lot of mayhem before putting it all back as if nothing has happened.

A blank canvas can be an exciting thing. Watch this space!

24 comments on this post

Margaret Powlingsays:

Pink with a hint of grey so that it takes the Barbie-ness out of it! Pink, as you know, is an historic paint colour – think Wilton and the corridor painted by John Fowler, or the amazingly pink hall at Ragley Hall! Not that you’d want that particular shade in your flat, of course! But it’s a beautiful colour if the ‘right’ shade and with the ‘right’ furnishings.

A lovely new space with amazing light! I can’t wait to see the color you pick. I loved the pink walls in your other flat. And I’m trying to pick a new color for a room in my house too!

wow what a great space! cant wait to see what you do with it… love that fireplace – i would pick a color to compliment that fabulous marble mantelpiece.

did you buy it so that you are making all these structural changes?

looking forward to seeing the rest too… looks like a kitchen makeover is in progress as well!

I want to see photos of the roof terrace…..before pics please!


Stunning flat…and what a smart address! And wow that view!
I knew you’d instantly get rid of those funny (albeit utilitarian) cupboards under the windows. As for paint colours, I like the greeny grey fourth from the right. Will be a shame to loose the sense of amplitude from the white though. How about dado rails, and try two colours. The rails might give some height to the room too. Not that you need any design advice from anyone….
Watching this all unfold will be a real treat.

Our study is painted in pelt – it’s an amazing colour. I recommend! Also similar and very striking is Zoffany’s Victorian Purple. Both seem to go with everything.


Okay, here’s my two pence:

I’m always a fan of bringing the outdoors in, which makes everything inside symbiotic, and seems to enlarge the space. Mirror those gorgeous colors outside and when cooler, and the trees have shed, your’e still left with the warmth of the green.

I think the pea green, perhaps a few shades lighter, because of its intensity would be so modern and yet classic. I would think it would really make the artwork pop!


Whatever you do will be as unpredictable, unprentious , un’decorated’ and comfortable as we have come to expect from you…… I being to oily?

Wow, what a great space! Windows, fireplace! Looking forward to seeing what you do with this blank slate. Great bones.

Oh, exciting! I can’t wait to see which of those paint colors you choose, and how you combine them. Looks like some dramatic renovations are going on (that broken bath tub in the middle of the floor). Hope you show us lots more before and afters!


it’s fantastic!! those windows!
can’t wait to see it finished. please keep the pictures coming.

Oh my goodness, are they going to fix the floors for you? Or do you simply have to step around the gaps? And surely that mess – that half bath and what appears to be a dishwasher and a toilet with the bowl cut off (?) isn’t yours? I can’t imagine Ben Petreath would treat his beautiful things like that… In Australia, that would be called “a tear-down job”! But I suspect it’s merely a small design challenge for someone with as much talent as you. I shall wait to see what magic you sprinkle over this neglected number. So exciting! I’m sure it’s going to look like Ralph Lauren’s Rhinelander mansion when you’ve finished! (Only with your aesthetic, of course.)
Janelle McCulloch | Library of Design


It’s a very smart room. What about a sophisticated grey such as Elephant’s Breath? – would look good with your prints. I love the pinks but when there is so much choice you should have some fun and try something new. Tricky but lots of fun!

Louise Reasays:

Wow! Is that room as big as it looks! What you can do with that space, cant wait to see it. Love the pink, but if you were to go in a new direction, Im a green girl – duck egg or olive, not fussy! Although navy/ink has been sneaking into my dreams recently, but thats not there…he he. cant wait to see it develop.


What wonderful windows!! That would have sold me on the place, right there!

Hi Ben

Great flat! I like the duck-egg blue, slate green, and of course the pink, which looks great against the navy blue. I think the pink drawing room should definitely get a reincarnation (no pun intended with the carnation!)

Emily (from your Corimona days, hee hee!!!)

Great space looks like a lot of hard work. Guess you will still not have room for a billiard table though
Good wishes and good luck with the transformation
Cilla Rule.

look forward to seeing your new space take shape. congratulations.

Hello Ben, I’m a real fan of your blog- I loved that story about your client who asked you what you wanted to do with your life.
You have inspired me to start my own blog-
I am renovating an old schoolmasters house in a remote Australian country town. Hope you have a chance to check it out, all the best,

Cant read your flat at all, what period is it? What a really perculiar ( and slightly monstrous fireplace, its almost 1930s, please explain. Anyway it is a very good looking space and a great find. Watching with real interest to see your choices.

Incredibly exciting, what good bones she has your new flat!,
I cannot wait to see the Pentreath magic transform her

How very exciting, it looks a wonderful flat. Nosy person here, therefore eagerly waiting to see the result of all the hard work.

Those windows! That fireplace! What an amazing space! (hopefully this isn’t a stupid question, but did you change the floors as well?!) Can’t wait to see what you do with it all!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *