Period Property of the Month - February 2011
The wish to have a small garden led this artistic couple to a charming cottage in Bath, as Polly Kemp finds out.
Time for a change
Artist Rosalind Freeman and her writer husband George Kimball live in one of the sweetest terraced cottages in the city of Bath. Built in 1823 by John Pinch the elder, one of the famous architects of Bath who was responsible for many of the later Georgian buildings there. The row of small but beautifully proportioned cottages is a hidden gem, just minutes from the hustle and bustle of the city, yet on the edge of the stunning 18th century landscaped gardens of Prior Park and the Skyline walk of Bath.
They moved into the house three years ago when they decided that, after years of living in a spacious Georgian apartment, they craved a garden. "When I retired, I decided I would rather have a little house with a garden than a grand flat," says Rosalind. They were first drawn to the house by it's location and immediately upon stepping into the house they were charmed by it's elegant, late Georgian details, pleasing symmetry, modest sized rooms and large low windows. "We felt at once that it was a restful, welcoming house," says George.
The house was in very good condition when they moved in so Rosalind and George didn't have to set about immediately decorating.
Arranged over three floors, they have continued the Georgian fashion of a first floor drawing room. The bright room with two windows is made brighter by the yellow paint on the walls. "This colour was on the walls when we moved in," says Rosalind. "The colour works wonderfully in this room, always giving a feeling of sunlight, so we felt no need for a change." The previous owners had undertaken the messy task of stripping and sanding the wooden floors in the drawing room, a look Rosalind and George love. As well as the drawing room the floorboards had been stripped in the master bedroom, halls and staircase although they decided to carpet the stairs and hallways in a neutral colour to add warmth and comfort underfoot. A more modest approach is taken in Rosalind's light filled studio, she has painted the floorboards white to add more light, a good option for an artist's studio as they can be easily re-painted if necessary.
The choice of colour in the kitchen makes a bright statement, lifting the terracotta tiled floor. As in the dining room Rosalind's collection of crockery and china are on display adding colour and interest to the plain walls. They have a lot to remind them of friends in this room. Much of the crockery is designed by friends John Hinchcliffe and Wendy Barber of Hinchcliffe and Barber, and the cushions are Wendy's textile designs. "Our great friend Patrick Ireland made the shelf above the chimney place. A huge walnut tree was felled in his garden during a storm but he turned the wood into furniture, including this shelf," says Rosalind.
Rosalind and George look upon the garden as another room of the house, after years of living in a flat, Rosalind's green fingers have brought life to her own small piece of paradise. Very precise positioning of plants, always a work in process make this a delightful space to have lunch or simply to sit and read. An eclectic mix of old iron, wooden and Lloyd Loom chairs are arranged around an iron garden table.
Years spent living and working in the south of France influenced Rosalind and George's interior design, a need for light and brightness is especially important for an artist. Much of the blue and white china was found in French antique markets. Vintage antique linens and fabrics add soft touches to cushions and curtains. The feeling of light which floods through the house helped by their choices of colours, allowing space to show off Rosalind's contemporary art, which takes inspiration from the coastline.
Without huge changes to the last owners' décor Rosalind and George have put their own stamp on the house, adding their particular artistic touches to this charming home, filling it with pieces collected over the years from family, friends and travels, each piece has its own story to tell. In doing so, they have created the idea of a country cottage in the city.