A formal country house library with sympathetic new touches

Interior designer Flora Soames has mixed old and new to revive a historic house in Northumberland. She spoke to Amelia Thorpe.

This is the library of a country house that designer Flora Soames has brought to life for a new generation. ‘I was asked to open up the rooms, re-arrange the astonishing collection of art and furniture and make it sing again,’ she explains. ‘The aim was to maintain the sense of grandeur, but not make it too precious.’

Her approach was to bridge the gap between the rigid formality of the bookcases and the soft lines of the silk curtains that frame the tall sash windows.

To achieve this, Miss Soames upholstered a Regency-style sofa by Max Rollitt in a rich blue velvet. ‘Blue is not an obvious colour for an English country house, but it lends the room a sense of formality.’

“I had an extraordinary canvas to work with and the job was simply to enhance and embellish it.”

Married with the sofa is a pair of Howard armchairs in Shalimar, a faded floral by Bennison. In the centre is an ottoman covered in a geometric print by Guy Goodfellow.

This rich mix of colours are set against a subdued striped wallpaper that was already in situ. ‘My approach to any interior is not about imposing one’s signature stamp, but working with what’s already there. In this case, I had an extraordinary canvas to work with and the job was simply to enhance and embellish it.’

Flora Soames — florasoames.com