This Holiday Rental in London is a Treasure Trove of 1970s and ’80s Furniture

Have you ever found the perfect piece of furniture, only to realize that you can’t fit it into your apartment because the pass-throughs are too narrow? (This has happened to me multiple times, including one that led to an emergency visit from the sofa surgeon.) For Hollie Bowden, access was particularly problematic during her renovation of a one-bedroom holiday rental apartment in London, which is located on the fifth and sixth floors of a Victorian building and reached via a narrow and winding staircase. Which items could she bring up safely, without having to first hack them to bits? Luckily, she found a modular leather ’70s-era sofa bed by De Sede, which was designed to split into two parts, and worked out a way to bring up all the joinery pieces for the kitchen and living room built-ins and assemble them on site. Others items were either svelte enough, or easy to unscrew and then re-form once installed. 

The sunny, yellow-hued apartment is located in the Seven Dials area of Covent Garden, in the heart of London’s West End and shopping area, and required a fair amount of upgrading to make it suitable for renting guests. A variety of comfy seating options were placed in the living room, and the team added storage and bookshelves with a hidden pull-down screen for the ceiling-mounted projector. The mezzanine bedroom, which overlooks the kitchen and dining area, features Zebrano veneer-clad sliding panels that can be “opened for a more open-plan feel or closed for privacy and coziness,” Bowden said, while a skylight over the staircase brings more light to the top floor. The tight bathroom was fully overhauled, replacing the bath with a walk-in shower and adding a wall-to-wall mirror over the sink. Yellow mosaic tiles cover the majority of the surfaces, and new cabinetry matches the bedroom doors.

The De Sede sofa bed, which allows more than two guests to stay, was one of many vintage finds from the ’70s and ’80s that give the space a retro feel, including a pair of Amanta armchairs by Mario Bellini; a Gae Aulenti “table with wheels”; and a Danish mid-century rosewood dining table with aluminum base, encircled by corrugated metal Sing Sing dining chairs by Shiro Kuramata. Bowden also chose stainless steel for the kitchen backsplash and a new tubular extractor in the same material to add to the retro-futurist vibe; the steel pairs nicely with the paint color, evoking what we’re calling High-Tech Country Kitchen. Erotic photography from late Chinese photographer Ren Hang’s “Wild” series, and a pair of abstract female figure sculptures hung on the windows add a slightly louche finishing touch.