Denville’s Article in July’s edition of Essential Magazine Gibraltar


Link. Essential Magazine Gibraltar

The Sails, by Denville Designs

When Meme Fairbank of Denville Designs has her first consultation with a client, her aim is to really get to know them; to understand their ideas, their requirements and their vision, and to translate that into the furnishings, fittings and fabrics which will then come together to complete the home of their dreams. Careful consideration will go into everything from their personal preferences regarding style, right down to where they rest their wine glass. In short, she ensures she is going to deliver a look and functionality that is quite literally made for them. When the time came to have this conversation concerning the £2 million penthouse at The Sails however, she was given but one brief: simply, to ‘wow’.

It was the bonus ball of blank canvases. The Sails is the latest luxury development to be completed in the exclusive environs of Queensway Quay, keeping good company with the equally prestigious properties of The Island and a short walk away, Kings Wharf. In this prime location, the spacious, three-bedroom penthouse looks out over the Strait to the south, the Rock to the east, and delightfully down on to the boats bobbing about in the upmarket marina below. Covering a capacious 236m2, the three-bedroom penthouse is a pretty impressive property to work with.

Such is the open plan layout of The Sails, that when you step through the front door you’re immediately met with sunlight that has made its unobstructed way in through the large glass doors from the terrace, across the expanse of lounge area and on to fill the hall in which you find yourself. A few steps further (or rather strides, given the size of the hall, which not only has a bathroom coming off it, but also a sizeable store room) and you’re in the open, breezy body of the property.

It is an airy space with modern, wood floors, white walls and a scattering of spotlights across the ceiling. The furniture is select, but the limited number of pieces there are are big, and they all make their own necessary statement in such a large space. The sweeping sofa is cream leather and its contours match those of the large, circular mirrored coffee table underneath which a bold black rug neatly defines the seating area while breaking up the expanse of floor surrounding it. There are more windows than there is wall space, and the sense is truly that the outside is brought in. The organic curves continue in the dining area where a simple, circular, glass dining table with a single, central support is attended by six cream leather chairs. The open plan, designer kitchen is fitted with clean, cream fronted cupboards, Silestone worktops, Bosch appliances and a central island which also serves as a breakfast bar, complete with tall chairs matching those of the dining table, plus under-counter lighting. Why you need your knees illuminated I’m not sure, but the effect from afar is extremely elegant.

While the clean, natural colours of the penthouse are in keeping with the modern style which is very much in demand, Meme, who learned the art of design from top designers in the UK as well as from her own mother who established Denville Designs in 1990, has thrown in a couple of creative curve balls.

The wallpaper which forms the backdrop for the dining table, for example, has a holographic, metallic finish which closely resembles corrugated iron in its deceptive appearance, and almost has to be touched to be believed. It was quite the talking point when contractors were coming and going at the property Meme tells me, but she defended her choice and not only has it proved to work as a real feature, but she was truly vindicated when the same wallpaper, designed by Osborne & Little, went on to win an award at a design show in Chelsea shortly afterwards. The wallpaper in the hall is eye-catching too. With something of a 3D ‘magic eye’ effect to it, you wonder what image would appear if you were to stare at it for long enough. It’s fine for fleeting moments as you enter or leave the property, but Meme tells me she noticed that one local law firm had actually used it in their boardroom. That might be a little too much on the eyes.

Meme has thrown in splashes of colour such as quirky cushions from the Picture Show range by Andrew Martin to break up the big sofa, and she has also introduced a number of feature lamps by RV Astley, two of which stand on mirror-finish tables either side of the wallpapered area in the dining room, their bases formed by what looks like a tumbling tower of bronze building blocks. And in a strikingly similar pose to that of Rodin’s ‘Thinker’, the figure of a lady covered in a surface of mirrored mosaic sits in the corner of the lounge. When the sunlight catches her or the spotlights are on, I’m told, the glitterball effect it produces is truly disco.

All three bedrooms, in line with the rest of the apartment, are light-filled, sizeable and spacious, but it is the master bedroom with its en suite which is simply stunning. The enormity of the bedroom is further exaggerated by the minimal furniture to be found in it. A chest of drawers, mirrored like much of the furniture in the main living room, stands in one corner, and a simple armchair in the other. Two bedside tables, also sporting feature RV Astley lamps, complete the furniture count. It is an absolutely minimal arrangement. And why? Because the master bedroom has a walk-in wardrobe about the same size as a small bedroom, therefore negating the need for free-standing wardrobes or storage of any kind in the bedroom itself. It allows the bedroom space to remain clean, uncluttered and conducive to rest.

A feature of each of the bedrooms are the huge headboards which Meme has chosen for the rooms. Almost pieces of art in themselves, they occupy a large part of the wall behind the beds; they are big and bold, and installed in order to complement the angles of the architecture.

On to the en suite, and central to this room is a free-standing bath from which, as you soak, you can take in the views across the Strait and on to Africa. Should your schedule not allow for drifting away to other continents however, a sizeable shower will see you through your ablutions even more efficiently. A further bathroom is shared by bedrooms two and three, and all are the only rooms in the apartment where the timber floor finishes, and ceramic tiles take its place.

And rather than conceal itself in a kitchen cupboard as is quite often the case in apartments where space is in short supply, even the washing machine has its own room. Hardly high on the ‘to decorate’ list, but a fair-sized room nonetheless, and it keeps the utilities away from the living areas where the emphasis really is on relaxation.

Leaving the interior of the apartment, via any one of a number of doors leading out from the lounge, dining room, master bedroom or its en suite, and you arrive on the large, fully-decked, south-facing terrace. With outdoor living a key requirement in a Mediterranean climate, Meme has made sure that this outdoor space is every bit as comfortable as inside, with a large percentage of the budget, she says, spent on the tables, chairs, sofas and loungers which make up the outdoor furniture. But that’s because there is a lot of terrace to cover. Following the terrace around the periphery of the apartment to the west-facing area and, at the end, bubbling away overlooking the Bay is instant relaxation in the form of a hot tub. I notice that out on the water, one of Gibraltar’s rowing clubs is practising its strokes. When the hot tub is occupied, I imagine, it would be only fitting to raise a glass of fizz to them to applaud their efforts… The terrace stops at the tub, meaning the only aspect that can’t be enjoyed from outside is that facing north. Already having the Bay, the Strait and the Rock to choose from however, it’s not a cause for concern.

The Sails penthouse is every bit the show home. It is open and airy, yet cosy and comfortable. Smart and slick, it captures the zeitgeist of modern, luxury living, but with Meme’s expert and tasteful touches it has elements of fun, colour and flair. In a word? Wow.