How to create a warm and inviting library to read and relax.

The project: Formerly the stables of The Hunting Lodge in in Hampshire, this library is warm and inviting.

The designer: There can’t be many who could match Nicky Haslam (www.nh-design.co.uk; 020–7730 0808) on the colourful nature of his career. After leaving Eton in 1957, 
he shared a flat with David Bailey, worked on Vogue and bred horses in Arizona, before turning 
to interiors from the early 1970s, eventually launching NH Design. Described as an ‘all-round life-enchancer’, his client list, ranges from Mick Jagger and Ringo Starr to the aristocracy. And, last year, he released 
a debut album, Let’s Do It. He has filled his country house with, in his words,
 a ‘hodgepodge 
of things’ that are ‘mostly just rubbish’. He lives between Hampshire and London, where his practice is based.

library design

Nicky Haslam says: The library was formerly the stables and is a warm and inviting space. One wall is taken over by bookshelves, which are a complete muddle with stacks of old copies of Country Life. It’s painted in a deep, dark ochre/pink from top to bottom—including the ceilings.

The scheme I entirely believe in chucking everything in and then weeding things out. The point is to get a general colour scheme going, which, in this room, is basically red. And overscaling is important; much too much furniture always helps. Everything should almost touch: humans need very little room to move around.

The furniture is quite a mishmash, some inherited, some bought. Dark-wooden furniture works well in a dark room, but I think most furniture should be painted. Houses that are trapped in a certain period have a kind of soullessness. You want to overlay the original period with layers of the next one. I also love souvenirs and things that have stories.

Light isn’t so vital. Everyone gets obsessed that you must have lots of light, but in some rooms that get very little, there’s no point in trying to brighten things up: electric lights work perfectly well.

Humour is so important in decor—show things off as being slightly hideous in a funny way. It’s about creating something that makes you smile when you walk into a room and you don’t really know why.

How to get the look:

Sofa
Try Dudgeon (020–7589 1910; www.dudgeonsofas.com) or Pimpernel and Partners (020–7731 2448; www.pimpernelandpartners.co.uk). The covering is a cotton version of a velvet-ribbed material that he ‘longed for but couldn’t afford’. For an alternative, try Rossini by Zoffany (0844 543 4600; www.zoffany.com)

William IV cane armchair
Online antique shops such as www.1stdibs.com, www.lillieroad.co.uk or, for something else, try OKA (including the Nicky Haslam collection; www.okadirect.com)

Lamps
Vaughan (020–7349 4600; www.vaughandesigns.com) or Phillips & Wood (020–8222 8117; www.phillipsandwood.co.uk)

Paint
Edward Bulmer (01544 388535; www.edwardbulmer.co.uk)

Carpet
Blenheim Carpets (020–7823 3040; www.blenheim-carpets.com)

** See more interiors ideas from Country Life