1820 meets 2018: Take a peek inside Paula Foulser’s stunning period house restoration

Restored to its original glory, this period terrace was given a subtle makeover. The result? A modern space that allows the light-filled Georgian grandeur to shine through.

Cushions from Katherine Fraser, katherinefraser.co.uk. Image: Brent Darby

Paula Foulser, who is marketing manager at Petersham Nurseries, lives in a Grade I-listed Georgian house in Bath with her husband Stephen, daughters Ella, Pia and Darcey, and Pandora the dog. Paula’s eldest daughter Ella works with her in the marketing team at Petersham Nurseries. ‘The girls often buy me a piece of glass for my birthday – I’m a massive collector,’ says Paula.

The mirror, fireguard and candlesticks are all from Petersham Nurseries. Working there gives Paula access to a ready stock of one-off accessories. Image: Brent Darby

Renovating a period home is often about taking away years of bad decorating decisions to uncover the original property beneath. ‘When we bought this house, it had been lived in by the same family for more than 40 years,’ explains Paula.

This is where guests at Paula’s Sion Hill Place Supper Club enjoy seasonal feasts. ‘People arrive a little bit shy and by the end of the evening everyone is chatting, like at the best dinner party. It’s the magic of food,’ says Paula. A vintage Arco lamp lights the scene. Image: Brent Darby

‘Entrances to rooms had been blocked, wiring and plumbing was outdated and the hardwood floors were covered in carpet. We simply tried to return it to its authentic state. At one point, I worried we’d gone too far, turning a worn but warm family home into a barren space. But luckily I think we got the balance right.’

Paula reopened the arch between the kitchen and dining room to connect the two spaces, although the L-shaped floor unit helps to maintain a natural divide. The kitchen is from Sustainable Kitchens (sustainablekitchens.co.uk) and the rug is from Liberty. Image: Brent Darby

The house is part of a historic terrace in Bath, and was built in 1820. Paula and her husband Stephen moved here in 2015 after returning from Milan, where he had been working for a major fashion retailer.

‘We had a temporary place in London and Stephen was commuting each week to a new job in Bath. We soon realised that for the price of a postage stamp-sized property in London, we could buy this beautiful home in a wonderful city, so we packed up and headed to the West Country,’ says Paula.

The bespoke cabinet, by Sustainable Kitchens, has a ladder for reaching higher shelves. Image: Brent Darby

In reality, the move wasn’t that simple. Paula had joined Petersham Nurseries as marketing manager, helping to oversee its transition from chic-but-boutique plant centre and restaurant in Southwest London to an international brand with a destination lifestyle store in Covent Garden. ‘In order to do my job, I have a bolthole in London that I stay in from Monday to Thursday, then I head to Bath for the weekend,’ she says.

‘I didn’t want the kitchen to look like a kitchen, so I kept the walls clear of units and put up paintings instead,’ says Paula, who has hung a Dutch still life, found in an antiques shop, above the hob. Image: Brent Darby

Paula has created a stunning home to return to. The original stone hallway and wooden floors have been restored, new bathrooms installed and rooms painted in Cornforth White and Wevet by Farrow & Ball. ‘I used cotton and linen, marble and brass to add simple layers to the décor,’ says Paula.

The Paradisa wallpaper by House of Hackney (houseofhackney.com) adds warmth to Paula’s bedroom. ‘I love it – but it’s so different to the rest of the house. I like that this room has a boutique-hotel feel,’ she says. The bed and chest of drawers are from And So To Bed (andsotobed.co.uk) Image: Brent Darby

Colour ranges from the translucent gleam of her glassware collection in the living room to the full-on blowsy wallpaper in the master bedroom, but her favourite space is the kitchen, with its deep-blue china cabinet and L-shaped run of stainless-steel units. ‘I’m passionate about food and entertaining, so this room had to be right,’ she says.

The bath was in the basement of the house and looked as though it had come from a prison camp. We had it restored and moved upstairs,’ says Paula. The floor tiles are from Fired Earth (firedearth.com) and the shower curtain rail is from Just Shower Rails (justshowerrails.co.uk). Image: Brent Darby

It’s now the venue for a pop-up supper club that Paula hosts with chef Alex Dome. ‘My daughter Ella wanted me to cook dinner for 25 friends for her 21st birthday. Alex works in the Petersham Nurseries restaurant, so I asked him to help. As we prepped the meal, the idea for Sion Hill Place Supper Club was born. People raise their eyebrows when I say we invite strangers into our home but Stephen and I would love to open a boutique hotel one day.’

In Ella’s bedroom, buttercup yellow is given definition with aged brass on the upholstered headboard and an antique lamp – a gift to Paula on her 30th birthday. The bed is from Loaf (loaf.com) and the bedding is from Toast (toast.uk). Image: Brent Darby

No doubt it would have the blend of modern, easy elegance the couple has perfected here. ‘Stephen adds the contemporary feel and I’m drawn to old things,’ Paula says. ‘Everyone seems to like it. Whenever we have new people round, someone always asks for a tour of the house.’

Feature by Angela Childs