By Geor­gian!

When prop­erty de­vel­oper Ly­dia Fay found her Bath home, it was a mess. Now, painstak­ingly re­stored pe­riod fea­tures are com­bined with mod­ern flair. Words and pho­to­graphs by Hunt­ley Hed­worth

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - NEWS -

Ren­o­vat­ing a beau­ti­ful Bath house

IN A QUIET QUAR­TER of Bath, a short stroll across Vic­to­ria Park from the city cen­tre, stands West­field House, a vi­sion of Geor­gian splen­dour. One of a row of im­pos­ing Bath-stone vil­las, its el­e­gant façade is matched by a smart con­tem­po­rary in­te­rior. But when its owner, in­te­rior de­signer and prop­erty de­vel­oper Ly­dia Fay, first spot­ted it three years ago, it was a dif­fer­ent story.

The house had been oc­cu­pied since the 1940s by the same fam­ily, the last mem­ber of which had re­cently moved out, and it was, by this point, a scruffy mess. The pre­vi­ous own­ers had par­ti­tioned off some ar­eas to make bed­sits and it had be­come, ac­cord­ing to Fay, ‘some­thing like a room­ing house’. Yet it was a rare find – a de­tached Geor­gian prop­erty with a se­cluded rear gar­den, ‘so [you] feel away from ev­ery­thing, even though it’s so close to the cen­tre’. It had also re­mained ar­chi­tec­turally in­tact, its orig­i­nal fit­tings unloved but largely un­touched, if ac­com­pa­nied by un­wel­come mod­ern ad­di­tions.

For­tu­nately, Fay was just the per­son for this par­tic­u­lar job. With a de­gree in art his­tory and de­sign ex­pe­ri­ence with fur­ni­ture brand Oggetti, she has both an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for clas­si­cal grandeur and an eye for mod­ern de­sign. She spe­cialises in do­ing up listed Geor­gian

build­ings, over­see­ing ev­ery­thing from ren­o­va­tion to dec­o­ra­tion. ‘It’s very per­sonal; I’m emo­tion­ally in­volved with the whole process,’ she says.

In the case of West­field House, Fay started by re­con­fig­ur­ing the in­te­rior, tak­ing down par­ti­tion walls and re­turn­ing the house to its pe­riod pro­por­tions. Each of the seven bed­rooms had a wash­basin, s o an­other task was to re­move these, along with the ac­com­pa­ny­ing waste pipes on the back of the house, all of which drained di­rectly into the back gar­den. Fay also re­ju­ve­nated the al­most- derelict base­ment into a se­ries of guest rooms and a den.

‘Paint-en­crusted blobs’ in the hall­way were re­vealed to be lion-head cor­bels

The orig­i­nal shut­ters were present but pretty in­cor­rect; firmly painted in, they had to be chis­elled out. Cor­nices and mar­ble fire­places were stripped, cleaned and brought back to their for­mer glory, and what Fay de­scribes as ‘paint-en­crusted blobs’ in the hall­way were re­vealed to be lion-head cor­bels.

Af­ter she had dealt with the ba­sics, Fay got to work on the dec­o­ra­tion. ‘We had great fun shop­ping at House of Hack­ney in Shored­itch, but I like to get as much as pos­si­ble in Bath, in­clud­ing wall­pa­pers and fabrics from Ros­siters depart­ment store,’ she says. ‘Bath also has Fired Earth and Far­row & Ball,

which we hit hard for tiles and paint.’

Fay ’s choice of paint colours and wall­pa­pers has trans­formed the house from a warren of white and mag­no­lia ba­nal­ity into a so­phis­ti­cated but char­ac­ter­ful in­te­rior. ‘If I had to choose my favourite in­flu­ences, they’d be [mod­ernist ar­chi­tect] Mies van der Rohe and the in­te­ri­ors at Knole in Kent,’ she says, and in­deed the most strik­ing el­e­ment of her scheme is the con­trast between cool neu­tral­ity and vi­brant pat­tern and colour. This is ex­em­pli­fied as soon as you ar­rive through the back door. The hall has pale wooden floor­boards, while the stair­case and pan­elling are painted a deep grey. A door leads down to the base­ment, the stair­well greet­ing you with a green-gold blast of in­tense colour and print: Seraphina wall­pa­per by De­sign­ers Guild. To­wards the front of the house, the din­ing room is a riot of House of Hack­ney flam­boy­ance on one side, while in the kitchen op­po­site, the clut­ter of the dresser is bal­anced by an is­land in gran­ite and re­claimed wood.

In the sit­ting room, Fay has in­dulged her love of Mu­rano glass with spe­cially com­mis­sioned chan­de­liers. But her favourite space is the most serene: the break­fast room, in­spired by the muted calm of Jim Ede’s Ket­tle’s Yard house in Cam­bridge. ‘It looks straight out on to the mag­no­lia tree in the gar­den, so it’s a great room to sit in and get ideas,’ she says. ‘I feel cre­ative at that ta­ble.’

She and her boyfriend have lived in the house for two years, ‘ac­tu­ally quite a long time for me’, notes Fay. ‘In my line of work I’m al­ways trav­el­ling and see­ing dif­fer­ent houses, but this is a beau­ti­ful, very calm place. It’s a won­der­ful con­stant, to which I love re­turn­ing.’

Left In the din­ing room, the colours of House of Hack­ney’s Artemis wall­pa­per are picked up in din­ing chairs by Hay. Below Ly­dia Fay

Left to right The bath­room is fur­nished with a pair of mir­rors spe­cially made in Mu­rano and a spec­tac­u­lar chan­de­lier; House of Hack­ney’s Palmeral print lines the walls and win­dows of one bed­room; the ex­te­rior of the Geor­gian house

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