A Classic English Country House Receives a Mood-Lifting Injection of Color

London interior designer Nicola Harding was the right person to turn to. Her clients, a couple with two young boys, were leaving London for rural Berkshire and life in a Georgian brick manse. They appreciated the grandeur of their house—8,600 square feet, seven bedrooms—but how to downplay the stuffy formality and lend the spaces the right energy—and functionality?

First the layout demanded a rethink, says Harding, noting that more than a few spaces felt “confused and uncomfortable” and that a relatively recent extension “sucked life away from the original part of the building. We kept structural work to a minimum but were able to rework the flow by blocking off doorways, making areas feel less corridor-like and more cozy.”

Equally importantly, Harding happens to be a master colorist: She is both deft and bold in her selections not only of paint but artwork and the many seating and lighting choices a dwelling this size requires. Join us for a tour of her transformative blues and greens and stealth pinks.

Photography by Paul Massey, courtesy of Nicola Harding & Co.

the family, longtime londoners, weren’t sure rural living would be  9
Above: The family, longtime Londoners, weren’t sure rural living would be right for them, Harding explains: “The wife worried she was stepping into someone else’s life, someone older and more sensible. So it was crucial to her that the house feel true to her. It needed to make sense as a country house, but also to feel exciting. It needed to be user-friendly, meeting their practical needs but also to be fun and sexy.”

Towards that end, the living spaces, including this corner of the sitting room, are furnished with soft places to flop, arranged, says Harding, “to create a feeling of intimacy.” The sofa and striped pillows are Nicola Harding custom designs. The trio of prints are by Hormazd Narielwalla via UK art site C&B Curates.

harding balanced the upright and formal with the down home: a set of found meta 10
Above: Harding balanced the upright and formal with the down-home: A set of found metal work stools surround the sitting room bar table next to floor-length linen curtains edged with antique lace dyed a deep blue. The dusty pink on the walls is Setting Plaster from Farrow & Ball (go to Steal This Look to see a grand kitchen in the same color by Harding).