A private cinema and leather floor for a residential project


This commission from a private client for their Surrey home threw up a number of challenges that highlight the flexibility and open-minded approach that the team brings to every project.

Set within the basement of the property, the small, luxurious cinema room is reached via an entrance space / hallway. The client wanted to make an impression here, and opted for a semi-aniline leather flooring, dyed dark brown and laid in individually made square panels over a natural felt underlay. Very rich in appearance, these panels have a uniform look that one wouldn’t necessarily associate with hand-worked leather. But the beauty with leather is that it adds character and depth over time, as we explained to the client.

‘He wanted it to look very perfect,’ explains Ned Ingham, our Head of Design. ‘We can do that! We can start perfect, but if you’re going to expect it to remain the same forever, that’s just not going to happen. But we can limit the amount of natural ageing by using dyes, so we started with a leather that’s very dark in colour.’

While it may age, leather is incredibly durable. Any signs of wear are most likely to appear at the stress points – for instance, where there is a join. In this instance, the hand stitching between each of the panels was the area of least resistance, with the threads more likely to become worn than the leather panels themselves. To counteract this, we used a recessed stitching process derived from saddlery and shoemaking.

‘This is another technique born from experimentation,’ says Ned. ‘If heels scrape across the surface, the thread can fray, so you cut a little track or V-groove in the leather, that you then stitch into – so when you’re walking around on the floor, you never actually touch the stitching.’

For the cinema itself, we designed and made the seating – consisting of five bespoke side armchairs, two double-width two-seater armchair sofas, and two ottomans. The armchairs are in silk velvet, while the ottomans are in leather, with bespoke drink trays in lacquer (a good, easily wipeable material where spills are likely to occur). We also designed three small island units that sit between the seats, made in timber with bespoke brass cup holders set into them.

The seating is traditionally upholstered, and sprung on coiled springs. This is a far better option than expanded foam – both in terms of sustainability and the longevity of the product. ‘Expanded foams are very bad for the environment, they’re derived from oil and degrade very quickly and end up in the food chain – whereas we try to use horsehair, natural latexes and wools wherever possible,’ explains Ned. ‘If it’s traditionally upholstered with springs rather than relying on the foam itself for that spring effect, you get something that doesn’t simply degrade over time – it can be re-sprung without wasting all the other materials that go with it. So it’s something that lasts longer but is also repairable, so it’s infinitely better.’

Date Completed: 2021

Client Private