Chatsworth – Carriage House (Stables Restaurant) Refurbishment

A New Chapter for a Former Carriage House (Stables Restaurant) at Chatsworth House

Located in the beautiful 18th century stable block designed by James Paine, the Carriage House is a large, fully licensed, self-service restaurant.

Chatsworth Stables Restaurant (Carriage House)

The building, although popular and always packed, was in danger of losing its voice due to a dated and slightly disconnected interior. Several areas sat uneasily together within a featureless, cavernous space. Heavy drapes hid dead areas used for storage and a carousel. Lighting throughout was a piece-meal collection of harsh spots and 80’s style neon. The furniture was functional but showing its age in both materials and style.

Our Brief was to refurbish the interior of the Stables Restaurant to a strict budget, in a way that embraced and enhanced the magnificent proportions and architecture of the former carriage house building. The challenge was to impart character and elegance, in keeping with the Chatsworth brand, yet keep its high traffic functionality.

There are four areas within the building: the servery, the main restaurant, the gallery passage and the conservatory. Our design intent was to link all these areas visually and aesthetically, restoring character, creating ambience and optimising the space.

Servery. This area fell under the remit of the Chatsworth team. Our contribution was to re-clad the servery counter and replace original matting with bespoke Chatsworth crest coir. This created an immediate visual cue and expectation upon entering the building.

Main Restaurant. We needed to visually and physically break up this large area, bearing in mind that it doubles as a wedding venue in the evenings, so flexibility was needed.

Areas of the floor were defined by a combination of carpet tiles with a contemporary “graffiti” design and timber panelling. The timber floor replaced the “mobile dance floor” that staff previously had to wheel in for weddings.

Practical dado panelling was added to walls, protecting against furniture knocks, with a feature paper above. The paper is bold enough to hold its own in the large space, but not brazen enough to compete with the bride in photographs.

The original lighting was a harsh mixture of LED and spots. We added bespoke lanterns of a scale proper to the building, casting theatrical shadows in the process. Spots were directed onto walls, illuminating architecture rather than patrons.

Dull, heavy drapes used to hide carriage arch doorways were replaced with bespoke bi-fold doors that we designed based on period carriage house aesthetic.

The rectangular space was softened by a mix of smaller new tables (circular/square & rectangular) and Perspex chairs. The chairs give a ghostly presence in the historic building by day. They also have the benefit of being completely neutral and lend themselves to any themed or colour scheme needed for weddings. Upholstered booth seating in the centre of the room adds partition and softness.

Gallery Passage. We added lounge style seating to this area, used previously as a thoroughfare.

Conservatory Gallery. Used as a gallery, originally this area was very utilitarian. Replacing all the furniture, adding a bespoke chandelier and carpet tiles transformed it completely. Walls were left blank for the large-scale contemporary works of art.

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