A library in Bath transformed into a bright and beautiful room to think, play the piano and just enjoy the view

Nicola Harding and Christopher Howe joined forces to transform this first-floor library into a serenely elegant sitting room. Arabella Youens explains more.

Set on a crescent, overlooking Bath, this Grade I-listed house benefits from not only outstanding views, but also a beautiful quality of light. It was previously owned by the University of Bath and the first aim was to restore the room to its original layout, by dropping windowsills and using lime plaster instead of plasterboard, which lends softness to the space. The walls were subsequently painted in Farrow & Ball’s Shaded White.

The client’s brief was for a room in which he could think, play the piano and enjoy the view as well as entertain. Curtains were eschewed in favour of recessed shutters to maximise the views, both during the day and at night.

One of the biggest challenges was making the large space feel cosy and inviting. ‘We overcame this by mixing furniture and objects that have patina and are worn, so that nothing felt too precious,’ explains Nicola Harding of Harding & Read (hardingandread.com).

‘Combining different patterns and periods creates depth and stops the room from feeling too formal.’

Designer's room - Nicola Harding and Christopher Howe

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Another technique employed was to position sculpture and books at table height to bring the focus downwards and inwards, something that distracts from the scale of the room.

Responding to the client’s request for pieces that would stand the test of time, Nicola turned to Christopher Howe (howelondon.com) and his ‘peculiar alchemy of successfully combining pieces from different places, eras and price points’.

From him, she sourced a 19th-century Persian carpet and the two lampstands, as well as a Weimaraner sofa and Gainsborough stool from his own-label collection. The artwork was bought through Robin Katz Fine Art.