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HomeLifestyleGabrielle Omar's glam family apartment in Canary Wharf skyscraper

Gabrielle Omar’s glam family apartment in Canary Wharf skyscraper

Gabrielle Omar, who was on The Apprentice in 2012, in her flat – with her cute cat (Picture: Daniel Lynch)

Gabrielle Omar has come from living above a London fish and chip shop to living high above most of the rest of the capital.

Architect Gabrielle, who starred on The Apprentice ten years ago and has gone on to run a successful architecture and interior design company, Spot This Space, before appearing on DIY SOS, lives on the 24th floor of Wardian, a residential tower development overlooking Canary Wharf.

With the sun bouncing off the surrounding skyscrapers and lighting up the property throughout the day, it has elements of Gordon Gekko-style urban living.

But Gabrielle, her husband John Holloway and daughters Aya, aged four, and Ava, two, have made it very much a home in the sky, not a chrome and Lucite, Wall Street-style palace.

Having grown up in a small flat above the family business (Captains Cabin in Burnt Oak – decent cod and chips), then moved to a converted Shadwell pub with frosted windows, Gabrielle is used to life in quirky urban spaces.

She and John bought their Wardian flat five years ago off-plan and didn’t see it until they got the keys. ‘We high-fived each other as we walked in,’ she laughs.

Gabrielle shares this spacious open-plan flat with her husband, two daughters, and their cat (Picture: Daniel Lynch)
The contrast between light and dark, and modern and natural, gives the flat depth (Picture: Daniel Lynch)

Wardian consists of two towers of 55 and 50 storeys. Inspired by the love of nature, the scheme is anything but urban, using lush greenery to combine indoor and outdoor living. Exotic botanicals feature throughout its design and unlike many inner-city homes, Gabrielle’s has generous outdoor space in the form of a 400sq ft balcony.

The entrance to the block has exotic gardens in giant glass cases that shout ‘nature’ to all who arrive. And Gabrielle extended the greenery theme to her home.

The tower’s entrance brings in elements of the outdoors (Picture: Daniel Lynch)

‘I wanted the journey to continue from the front of the building into the apartment,’ she says. ‘Our home has so many plants it takes me an hour-and-a-half to water them all.’

The flat is contemporary and uniform, the straight edges of the giant balcony doors lining up with the towers outside. But it is also cosy and earthy, with a pragmatic elegance to the detailing. Wood, marble and organic hues make it feel warm and welcoming – the John Lewis sofa was handpicked in a lush Dark Evergreen to match the Forest Green kitchen cabinets.

The kitchen cupboards are a deep green… (Picture: Daniel Lynch)
…which matches the colour of the sofa (Picture: Daniel Lynch)

The study area is done in robust walnut with black veneer surround. Ola dining chairs from Liang & Eimil come covered in black-and-white tropical print linen. ‘I didn’t want it to feel like an office, so we went with bold, strong colours,’ Gabrielle explains. ‘It’s a really light space, the sun sets on all the buildings around, so we are constantly getting different shadows and reflections in the apartment.

‘Inside there is a whole emphasis on green. It makes you feel like you are in touch with nature. The huge balcony space is the biggest outside space I have ever had in my life. We set up little tents and do paintings on the balcony.’

Large shelves are filled with books on furniture and architecture but it’s easy to forget that this is a cutting-edge, new-build home. It is clutter-free, thanks to the large storage area designed by Gabrielle at the front door. Yet it doesn’t feel overly sanitised or like a luxurious show home. The feel is of a family home that just happens to ‘float in the sky’.

Gabrielle chilling in her astroturfed balcony 24 floors high (Picture: Daniel Lynch
The monochrome bathroom with chevron pattern floor tiles (Picture: Daniel Lynch)

There are personal items everywhere, from well-used vegan and hot sauce cookbooks to a parrot ornament that was bought to remind the kids of their hysterical laughter when parrots in Colombia repeatedly swooped on Gabrielle’s head.

‘Even though I wanted it to be clutter-free and clean I wanted it to be my home and relaxed,’ she says. ‘I wanted my children to be happy. If you put colour and texture it hides the marks and the worn, torn parts that have been jumped on.’

On a bookcase is an ornate piece of driftwood, found on a beach in Bournemouth, where the couple commissioned a local glass blower to make the beautiful, bespoke glass plant bowl that sits atop it. An animal skull mounted on a stand in the main bedroom was a charity shop find from Sloane Square in Chelsea. Geometric shields from South Africa stand guard near the front door.

The parrot ornament reminds the family of their travels to Colombia (Picture: Daniel Lynch)
Textured brass light dimmers give an additional touch of class to the interiors (Picture: Daniel Lynch)

Gabrielle changed lighting switches and sockets to Buster + Punch items. ‘Something as small as that, even in a bare room, can make the world of difference and make it feel a bit more glam.’

The children’s room is serene, but Ark Parchment wallpaper from Andrew Martin, inspired by Natural History Museum exhibits, gives it a wild side.

The children’s bedroom (Picture: Daniel Lynch)
The wild animal-themed wallpaper on the children’s bedroom walls (Picture: Daniel Lynch)

For Gabrielle, this home is at the same time a passion and a reflection of how far she has come. As a child she was fascinated by Canary Wharf when it was just One Canada Square, the flashing red light blinking on top of a pyramid roof.

Now, as an architect, she is still inspired by the new building in the area. ‘This home is the pinnacle of what I’ve achieved,’ she smiles. ‘It’s pretty amazing.’

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