Source: Leon Chew

Interior Design

How to Give Your Home the Feel of a Posh London Social Club

The duo behind two of the city’s most exclusive private enclaves has opened offices in America, bringing a dash of British exclusivity across the Atlantic.

Designers Elliot March and James White share a similar, casual approach to achieving elegance. To make a room into a gentlemanly, club-like retreat, they start by dividing it into intimate spaces, they find ways to use hints of metal and leather throughout, and they incorporate soft, but durable furniture. 

Their firm, March & White, has built a reputation designing stunning interiors for two of London’s most private clubs, the Devonshire and Club Café Royal, along with several private yachts and residential projects. They know their lounges.

Eliot March, left, and James White.
Source: Leon Chew

The duo has also earned the business of such clients as Simon Cowell, whom they’re helping to design a “monochromatic, contemporary home with an art-deco twist,” according to White. Although they typically work with clients of this stature and budget, much of their design sensibility is accessible to those who want to bring a piece of these trademark clubs into their personal space. 

“There’s room for everything in our projects—elements you will buy from a store or online, plus artisan elements. It’s about working in detail where you can,” White says.

As the duo launches two American offices—one in New York City and one in Los Angeles—we spoke with them to gather their insight on transporting design from the Devonshire and Club Café Royal into a residence.

How to Balance Masculine and Feminine Energy in a Room

The cocktail lounge at the Devonshire.
Source: Leon Chew

“For us, it’s in the pops,” March says, referring to the bespoke carpet and cushioning that’s in the Devonshire’s cocktail lounge. Vibrant furniture pieces can go a long way at either end of the spectrum, as shown by this “Flamingo” lamp. It echoes the flowing feathers of the creature, while playing off the tones of other fixtures in the lounge. “There’s a balance in the energy and materials,” he says.

Bring the Outdoors Indoors With Plants 

The Garden Room at the Devonshire club.
Source: Leon Chew

The Devonshire’s Garden Room is a striking example of overlapping nature while remaining true to the club’s roots. “We wanted to bring that English Garden feel inside,” White says. A foundation of grays and greens in the carpet and furniture help set the tone for palms and pinks closer to eye level. “Plenty of people come in and feel like they’ve been transported somewhere else,” March says.

Use Bookshelves and Screens to Achieve Balance 

The library bar at the Devonshire.
Source: Leon Chew

In much of their work, bookshelves provide an illusion of division as much as they balance the overall feel. “When you think about clubs, it’s generally about privacy: zones and private spaces,” White says. “When you bring it into the home, a bookcase can be a screen—especially behind a console to add division,” White says. 

Tastefully Use Leathers and Metals 

Bar stools by March & White. 
Source: Leon Chew

Leathers and metals define London private clubs. These materials provide largely the same feel as they did when the first clubs opened 100 to 150 years ago. “[In residential projects] we tend to use flashes of it—i.e., incorporating metalwork through a coffee table or a thread of materials that runs through a whole home,” March says. “Joinery or other pieces of furniture may have some nickel trim, and we may use that instead of adding extra colors,” White adds.

Create an Inviting Lounge Space

The Library Bar at Club Café Royal.
Source: Leon Chew

Café Royal’s Library Bar is an intimate drinking venue in London’s Soho neighborhood with a gorgeous curved marble bar.  “We started to bring in palettes of leathers, metals, and wood with a special-effects finish to create that bar front,” White says. “You could bring some of that into the home, especially the kitchen, where it would almost turn it into a party space.” March adds that leatherwork can make a space more intimate and softer, as it does at Library Bar. (Lighting should be gentle, and at a low level.) March noted they’re using more handbag and designer leathers to achieve this kind of feel, especially for female clients.

Remember: Appeal Can Be Timeless

The dining room at Club Cafe Royal.
Source: Cafe Royal

“You only know something becomes timeless over time,” March says. “It’s very hard to pin down what timeless is.” Each of their projects incorporates a standard of elegance that comes through the duo’s methodical approach. “We choose quality base materials,” White says, speaking about the foundation of their work. “Then we’ll look into things we can bring in as layers (patterns, colors, fabrics). We’ve found that approach works really well,” White says.

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