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.
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.
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.
‘Entrances to rooms had been blocked, wiring and plumbing was outdated and the hardwood floors were covered in carpet.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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’
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