We are happy to be able to share details of a recently completed project on an early19th-century Georgian library in a Dublin.
The owners of the property in question, an exquisite Georgian townhouse, wanted a large library to form the main part of their raised ground floor living space. The client, Jean Flitcroft of Interior Designers Leon and Croft, wanted the room to look understated, elevating the books as the heroes of the room. They required Artichoke’s expert input to update their space without compromising its historic charm and value.
When designing libraries into period settings, we aim to integrate our work with a building’s original architectural joinery, and in this case the grand townhouse room, built in 1819, presented itself beautifully. A section of the original Georgian dado was stripped of years of paint build up to present its original crisp lines. This was then copied and integrated along the face of the library bookcases to make them appear more architectural. The perfect location of the door into the room also allowed the library furniture to span both sides of the opening, giving our team the opportunity to integrate the architrave into the library furniture.
The client’s request for us to design them a library coincided with a series of recent visits to St Giles House in Wiltshire, the original home of the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury. The house had fallen into disrepair after the Second World War and was on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk register until it was rescued by the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury, Nick Ashley-Cooper, in 2010. The property’s magnificent library remained untouched and was in a state of disrepair. However, its former elegance and subtle grandeur shone through, and it was this room that gave Artichoke the inspiration for the bespoke library design in Dublin.
The library in this Georgian townhouse is flooded with light, while soft red walls and a rich colour palette deliver a more traditional library aesthetic. Different leathers and woods are mixed to give an eclectic look that feels cosy without being stuffy. A chandelier in each section of the space hints at grandeur, while armchairs dotted throughout invite the family and their guests to make themselves comfortable.
Perhaps most importantly, the books are presented in understated white bookcases, allowing them to be seen clearly and perfectly hitting the client’s brief. We have been successful in creating a space that the family will enjoy and cherish for years to come without compromising the historic charm of the house.
If you’ve been inspired about the trans-formative impact of authentic joinery led interiors, please do get in touch and tell us about your project or read more about our services.
A precursor to starting the interior design work for any bespoke library or study is to take reference from the past. We take a great deal of inspiration from the past and we are fortunate in this country to have a great number of well preserved magnificent spaces to take inspiration from.
Here are some of the libraries we love, most of which have found their way into client presentations over the years
The Philosopher’s Hall, Strahov Monastery, Prague(we are currently designing a project inspired by this library). Click this link to see a fascinating detailed 360 tour of this room.
The grand library at Chatsworth.
Bookcases in the Library at Hatchlands Park, Surrey.
The Library at Knightshayes Court, Devon
View from the Book Room into the Library at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire
The library steps by Thomas Chippendale the Younger, in the Library at Stourhead, Wiltshire
The Library, designed by Robert Adam in 1766, at Osterley Park, Middlesex.
A view from the Hall to the Library at Basildon Park, Berkshire
The Library at Castle Drogo, Devon.
The Library at Belton House, Lincolnshire. The room was a dining room in the seventeenth century, changed into a drawing room in 1778, and was converted into a library in 1876.
Gilt-brass wirework on one of the bookcases in the Library at Hartwell House, a historic house hotel in Buckinghamshire.
Shelves in the Library at Scotney Castle, Kent.
One of the inscribed Gothic hinges on the Library door at Tyntesfield, North Somerset
View of the Library at Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire
The Library at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire.
Looking through the Library door toward the Entrance Hall at Castle Drogo, Devon.
The library at St Giles House near Shatftesbury, recently restored and owned by the Earl of Shaftestbury.
In late 2013, Artichoke’s architectural design team were approached by the new owner of a magnificent late 17th Century Grade II* Listed Georgian Hall in the English countryside.
The Hall sits in gently undulating parkland with some quite magnificent architectural design features which include a listed fishing temple with a pedimented Roman Doric portico, and listed Palladian stables.
Among the requirements for the Hall was a grand library. For those unfamiliar with Baroque interior design, it can best be described as a dramatic and theatrical take on Renaissance architecture, often including bold features such as opulent use of ornaments and colour, gilding and carving. For interior architectural designers and cabinet makers, this was a deeply interesting and challenging project.
The Philosophical Hall Prague
There are many baroque rooms to take inspiration from when preparing an interior design of this nature. During design meetings with the Hall’s owner, one particular room caught our eye. Built in 1779, the breathtaking Philosophical Hall in the Strahov Monastery in Prague is arguably one of the most beautiful baroque libraries and interiors in the world. With the kind permission of the monastery, we flew over to Prague to survey the detail of this inspirational interior.
The stunning wild grain walnut used throughout the library adds beauty and works well in a room of this size.
Creative Design Work
Close up of the entablatures below show the gilded swags and tails, egg and dart, dental mold and gilded acanthus leaves.
This image shows work in progress of the carved gilding work in the baroque library. Under Artichoke’s direction, all the carving in the library was undertaken by Ian Agrell Carving, an English company with offices in London, San Rafael and Calcutta. The company is one of the few carving companies who never carve by machine and their work is of the highest possible quality. All of this work is undertaken by eye using the sharpest chisels. Ian’s video is below.
An acanthus leaf being worked on by hand. The carving is undertaken in Calcutta by carvers specially trained in classical detailing. Their work is crisp, accurate and leaves an excellent surface upon which the gilding teams can then layer their gesso and gild work. Note how the hand-drawn paper template guides the carver through the shapes and layers of the detail.
Below are some examples of the carved swags
Samples of gild-work were produced concurrently to help gauge the correct level of brightness for the final gild work. The above image shows how different types of gilding can alter the final look of carved work. We specified water gilding for the baroque library which is a traditional method of applying gold leaf to a surface. It is the highest quality of all gilding methods.
The larger piece on the left has been lightly antiqued to look in period, while the other items have a much brighter and fresher tone. We partnered with Gareth from Water gilders for the water gilding of these items.
Once the final creative design is signed off, we moved on to the Production Engineering phase where Artichoke’s technical designers model the baroque library in 3D to work out the most efficient and best methods of constructing the room. We are, in effect, digital cabinet making at this stage. Each component is constructed in digital form so we know how it interacts with other component parts.
Acanthus leaf carvings ready to be watergilded by the Watergilders team
The image below shows the various stages of the water gilding process being undertaken by the water gilders team. Up to ten layers of gesso are added to the timber substrate and smoothed down (bottom right) before a yellow gold gilding clay is added. Burnishing clay, or bole, is then added to parts of the leaf before the gold leaf is added. This is then dampened with water to encourage the leaf to stick to the surface before it is then burnished with an Agate stone.
Part of the cornice work in the workshop. The central band of carved lilies will be water gilded. The timber is European Walnut.
Below are images of the baroque library’s base cabinets in assembly at Artichoke’s workshop with the hinges about to be fitted. Finish has already been applied to the perimeter of the panels which are made from solid walnut. These solid panels will contract in size as the timber acclimatises to the domestic environment. Pre-finishing the edge first allows for the panel to contract within the frame without revealing any unfinished timber at the shrinkage points.
Below are images of the watergilded bases and swags fixed in position.
This Video shows the gilders applying oil gild to the walnut frames at Artichoke’s worktops.
Here is the main entrance door to the baroque library, with the frame mould gilded and the raised and fielded panels about to be fixed
The installation phase of every project is potentially the most risky. A great deal of effort is placed on ensuring that we install at the correct time, and that the environment is not damp, dusty or busy with builders and other third party trades.
Images of the installed baroque library are below:
Finally, as a surprise for the client and a thank-you gift to them from us, Artichoke secretly designed in this book operated secret drawer. Every great baroque library should have one!
Please click here to see more about our bespoke library design service. For further information regarding Artichoke’s work, please contact us.