This 17th Century coaching inn at the centre of a small village in West Oxfordshire was at risk of being redeveloped as a residential property when a local couple decided to rescue the place. Our clients wanted us to breathe the heart back into their Grade II Listed building to create what felt like a proper pub, real and soulful, as if it might always have been that way.
We collaborated closely with the architect to design a bright, light-filled extension to accommodate a spacious restaurant with enough flexibility to feel just right for an intimate weekday supper or large celebratory gathering, and everything in between. A place that feels as if it belongs to the building but has an identity of its own.
"Effortlessly authentic with the easy, unaffected charm of a proper village pub"
We reimagined and increased the footprint of the garden to bring the outside in, created snugs for intimate, cosy corners along with a private dining room at the back. We worked creatively within a tight budget, reusing wherever possible while layering in savvy finds from flea markets, dealers and suppliers to reveal and accentuate the character of the building.
Each of the five bedrooms is designed with its own distinctive atmosphere to feel like a fabulous, favourite friend’s spare room. Boardgames and books on the shelves, notebooks and pencils in the drawers of bedside tables and generous bathrooms all help guests feel at home.
Now re-established as the heartbeat of the village, the Royal Oak feels effortlessly authentic with the easy, unaffected charm of a traditional village pub. Well supported and warmly received by the local community, its guest bedrooms balance the restaurant with its proper bar where everyone is welcome and no one feels out of place.
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We believe that space is a feeling not a location. The hotels, restaurants and cafes we create are sensitively designed to consider their history as well as their future, resulting in spaces that feel exciting yet reassuringly familiar.
Nicola Harding & Co is a London-based interior design studio that creates places, not spaces. Rich in atmosphere, our interiors are refined yet reassuringly familiar. At the heart of our work is Nicola’s unique ability to create a sense of place, that peculiar alchemy that gives a space a soul.