FCDO Services »Latest »Securing your property »Refreshing Islamabad

Refreshing Islamabad

The High Commissioner’s residence in Islamabad was built in the seventies and filled with furniture from the closed residence in Karachi, the old capital. It has remained largely unchanged since due to lack of budget.

Outdated furniture, aging curtain treatments and faded carpets did not reflect the modern, innovative and professional service of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. FCDO Services were asked to bring the residence up to date with a minimal budget.


After visiting the residence, designs were developed in London by our dedicated team, using a combination of bespoke pieces and off-the-shelf items from trusted UK suppliers.

It was important for design elements to reflect our relationship with the host country and in doing so we were able to use special pieces provided by the UK Crafts Council, including a crafted bowl made by British-Pakistani artist Halima Cassell.

The main entertaining room was designed with a large modular sofa, capable of being re-arranged into different configurations, with breakout areas of seating at each end of the room. All three areas sit on custom-made rugs featuring a modern graphic interpretation of Mughal-era fretwork.

Local motifs

In the entrance hall, we designed a special circular rug, inspired by motifs in the Pakistani flag. An ornamental chest from northern Swat region reinforces the cultural selection and a mix of modern shapes and local motifs was achieved with careful selection of fabrics and furniture.

The colour scheme was kept subtle to create a sense of calm, and a new lighting plan uses cordless light boxes and dimmable LED downlights to cater for evening diplomatic events.

…most importantly we now have a Residence that befits the UK’s second biggest diplomatic mission in the network – and projects a professional, contemporary and inspiring image to the thousands of visitors who pass through our doors every year. Our thanks to all who worked on this project. It really has been transformational.

Tom Drew, British High Commissioner to Pakistan, and his wife Joanna Roper, FCDO Special Envoy for Gender Equality

The project was received by all as a fresh, modern transformation to what had been a neglected space, providing the High Commission with a whole new suite of stylish reception rooms, fit to host all types of events and coinciding with celebrations to mark 70 years of UK-Pakistani relations.