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The Curator’s Apartment: A Design-Led Holiday Retreat in Bath

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The Curator’s Apartment: A Design-Led Holiday Retreat in Bath

Toby Mitchell  July 26, 2021

The Curator’s Apartment is a pared-back, art-filled holiday rental in the center of Bath that doubles as an artistic retreat. It is the first design-led rental created by Tina Liu, who—after a decade-long career in the City—is now a property developer intent on creating individually crafted spaces for passing travelers seeking ease and authenticity.

The Curators Apartment A DesignLed Holiday Retreat in Bath portrait 3_25
Above: A view of Walcot Street. Tina lived and studied in Bath as a teenager and has been captivated by its elegance ever since.

The light-filled apartment is situated on Walcot Street—a historic road lined with independent shops and antique emporiums. Taking this setting as inspiration, Tina imagined the apartment belonged to a curator. “I wanted the property to feel authentic, so I based the furnishing concept on a made-up personality—someone who loves a mixture of the old and the new, and would have more traditional forms of art hanging on the walls as well as more gallery-like installations.”

the curators apartment living room
Above: The travertine vintage plinth in the living room was sourced via the stylist, Anna Unwin, who specializes in sculptural, idiosyncratic objects and furniture. “Keep an eye on eBay or Facebook Marketplace for similar, otherwise a stonemason could fabricate one in a bespoke size,” advises Tina.

The entrance is reached via a hidden path that leads you through the back garden and, while the apartment sits on a thriving commercial street, the rear of the property overlooks a peaceful valley with views of the limestone hills that surround the city. This sense of seclusion continues inside. “My primary aim was to create a calm and earthy atmosphere, where guests would feel comfortable and at peace,” explains Tina. “By filling the space with interesting art and objects, I hope the apartment encourages guests to notice their beauty and to enjoy life at a slightly slower pace.”

the curators apartment hallway
Above: In the hallway hangs a bespoke installation by the local floral design studio, Lunaria Somerset. “The deep, warm browns compliment the soft beige hues of the hallway perfectly,” says Tina.

Internally, the apartment is arranged over two floors with the kitchen and living space below and two bedrooms above. “When I bought the property, it had clinical white walls and floors,” Tina recalls. “Everything felt worn down from lack of maintenance.” A six-month renovation ensued with much of the budget set aside for furniture. “With careful planning, I’ve been able to create a high-end finish by mixing a few statement, designer pieces with good pieces from high street furniture brands,” she explains. “I always mix new and old.”

the curators apartment bedroom 2
Above: “I wanted the apartment to be more than just a space to sleep,” explains Tina, who commissioned the artist Lawrence Calver to produce the artwork (which is made in textiles) above the mantlepiece.

The art and objects arranged throughout the space are primarily bespoke commissions that are intended to steal the guests’ attention as they explore the space. “I hope they create a moment of peace and appreciation of the present,” Tina explains.

the curators apartment cloakroom
Above: Upstairs, this cocooning cloakroom has the most beautiful view of the Mendip Hills.

In order to keep the collection alive and support the work of artists, Tina has launched a residency that enables artists to stay in the apartment free of charge in return for a piece of art. “The idea is that apartment will have a new piece of art that other guests can enjoy, and the artist will get a holiday which might lead to new ideas and inspiration. Ideally, I’d like to always add new works, so that returning guests always have something new to discover,” she says.

the curators apartment dining room
Above: In the dining room, Tina sourced three pairs of dining chairs from three different periods. “We have a pair of vintage Victorian salon chairs with rattan base that were sourced from South of France, a pair of vintage Danish mid-century chairs and a pair of more modern black painted chairs.” A monochrome oil painting by David Hardy hangs above the table.
the curators apartment kitchen
Above: The small-yet-functional kitchen overlooks the rear garden.
the curators apartment doorway
Above: The two ink drawings in the master bedroom were inspired by the artist and architect Spencer Fung, and created by Tina. “While researching the history of the Walcot area I came across street photographs from 1850s. I tried to capture those street views in an over-simplified way, using repeated single strokes on tea stained paper.”

This September, the artist, Mimi Robson, will be staying at the apartment. “She creates beautiful ink on paper drawings that are minimalistic and calm with elegant forms and compositions,” Tina explains. “Her work echoes the aesthetics of the apartment perfectly.”

For more inspiring, art-filled homes, read:

• Slow Architecture: An Elegant, Monochrome Home in London by Spencer Fung

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