Faber breathes new life into Winstanley House, with ‘Black Iron’

Restaurant interior design and branding experts, Faber Design and Architecture, have completed the design of Black Iron, a standalone restaurant concept at Leicester’s recently restored Winstanley House. The initiative was part of a larger development to convert the formerly derelict stately home into a hotel and boutique wedding venue.

Location and history

  • Situated within 160 acres of parkland just outside Leicester city centre.
  • Previously known as Braunstone Hall, the building was purchased in 2015 from the local council.
  • Had been used as a school between 1932 and 1996 and stood derelict for some years after the school closed.
  • The new owners renamed it Winstanley House in honour of the family who first built it in 1775 and lived there until 1926.

The brief

The client wanted to create a contemporary restaurant, but was keen that it would feel at home within the historic building and provide a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere to dine in. It was also important for Black Iron to be appreciated as a destination in its own right; not just as a place for hotel guests to eat.

The space

Located on the ground floor at the front of Winstanley House, Black Iron is split into two halves, with what was the original main entrance hall cutting through the middle. The space provides a grand setting, with opulent marble columns and high ceilings edged with ornate cornicing. The large sash windows lining the entire front elevation emphasise the sense of scale and provide plenty of natural light.

Tony Matters, Creative Director at Faber, comments:

“We always wanted the new restaurant to feel part of the original house, almost as if you’re a dinner guest of the Winstanley family. We had some beautiful original features to work with, including the solid wood flooring, 18th century cornicing and moulding, and original fireplaces. Great care was taken to retain and restore these features and to design something that would enhance them – but also bring a sense of the contemporary to the space.”

“We deliberately took a restrained approach to the design, using a pared-back, simple palette. The choice of furnishings helps to maintain a residential feel – but at the same time, it was important to show guests that this is a special building with a real sense of history. By making period-appropriate additions such as the wall panelling, and selecting comfortable but elegant seating, we were able to strike a balance between formal and relaxed.”