A PLace of my own - Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts' high-ceilinged home bursting with character and doubles as her photo studio.
Three years ago, Nikki Roberts moved into her spacious, Gaudí-esque apartment with her husband and two daughters. Initially the apartment was run-down and derelict, with a thick layer of dust camouflaging its features. Nikki saw the potential, however, and after a good cleaning and a few handyman-type home improvements, unveiled the wonders of the space. The gorgeous Modernista tiles, which narrate the history of the apartment, while keeping the floors cool in the hot Barcelona summers, differ from room to room. Pink with blooming white flowers. Pale yellow with grey snowflakes. A swirling, organic design of moss green, burnt orange and pansy purple. If the tiles alone aren’t enough to make this the perfect home, then factor in the high ceilings and the light that fills up the space where there isn’t a retro knick-knack, and you’ll want to pack your bags and move in. “I love to wake up in my bedroom in the morning,”said Nikki, “The ceilings are so high, I feel like it opens up a world of possibility. Nothing is weighing me down and the creative thinking begins immediately, the second I open my eyes and take it all in.”
Although the apartment is still not perfect, that’s what works about it. The clever architectural design merges with the idiosyncrasies to create a place bursting with character and soul. Looking around, pointing out little details a first-time guest would likely miss, a huge smile spread across Nikki’s face. “I just love that my apartment has cracks and blemishes, tiles that aren’t perfect and mismatched door handles. In a world where everyone is striving for modernity, I want my kids to grow up surrounded by quality products from past decades, things that represent where we came from. I want them to grow up in a home that has roots.” And so, Nikki is always on the lookout for timeless, old-school pieces to add to the apartment’s decor.
Recently, she found a vintage hair salon hair dryer that was turned into a lamp at an antique market in Sant Cugat. It’s beyond fabulous. The part where ladies cocooned their heads in circulating hot air is painted a faded orange, and it came with the powder blue, hourglass-shaped stool the ladies would have sat on as their new dos dried. This new addition to the apartment’s furnishings actually inspired her daughter Maya’s 10th birthday party: a 1950’s theme. Nikki also collects cameras and has them displayed in the living room in wooden shadow boxes. Among her collection is a working projector from the seventies. There is a Fritz Kuhla upright piano that sits, sleek and black, in the corner of the dining room. Although it contrasts with the earthy feel of the long, light wood dining room table and the flowering terrace, it allows Nikki’s older daughter, Isabella, to utilise the great acoustics that the apartment has and serenade her family with her talent.
When asked what influences her decorating, her work, and her life in general, Nikki said, “I’m inspired by people that are inspiring.” She literally surrounds herself with artists that motivate her to be imaginative. Books and framed magazine covers are perched on a shelf above the cushiony sofa in the living room: Barcelona 1000 Graffiti, Guy Bourdin Polaroids, The Big Butt Book and Madonna on the cover of Fanfair all hover directly over Nikki’s head when she’s lounging on the couch, just waiting to be picked up to foster an idea.
It’s not hard to see why Nikki, Creative Director of Velvet Cuts, never needs to find locations for her Boudoir Clips, a photographic venture by her company that allows clients to celebrate themselves as women, capturing them at their best and most sexy selves. No matter what time of day, Nikki can find the perfect spot in the apartment to shoot. After moving a few things around, relocating a piece of furniture, Nikki transforms her cosy family home into a suggestive photography set. No matter where she shoots—through the bedroom shutters, in the full-length mirror in her bedroom, against one of the solid white dining room walls, or on the giant, white, leather daybed—when looking at the photos, no one would ever realise the shots are taken in Nikki’s apartment. Nikki knows how to make the most out of a space. It takes an innovative, energetic, daring person to turn an apartment into a 1950s sock hop, equipped with popcorn and milkshake machines one day, and an intimate, playful environment where women can become sultry sirens in front of the camera the next.