Portabello Restaurant Bar and Grill

Portabello Restaurant and Bar on South Parade in Oxford's Summertown.

We were asked to assist with refurbishing this extremely popular premises, working with the owner to develop his aesthetic vision for the transformation, we provided design advice and working solutions throughout the process. The turnaround refit was 12 days in total which was achieved for a re-launch just before Christmas.

The general concept was to marry elements of Victorian charm and contemporary Soho house chic to give a warm, harmonised functional and aesthetic space, close, expansive, crisp and bright, and create a space to reflect their reputation for quality, providing a fitting backdrop for their renowned menu.



Particular attention was drawn to the need for less intrusive lighting whilst promoting a real sparkle. Ceiling spotlights were inset to help reduce glare and all lighting was placed on dimmers. The pendent lighting which we used as a subtle signature piece we dotted around the bar and over the seating to the right of the bar are from Northern lighting based in Sweden.

Beautiful cast bronze wall lights with an innovative cold cathode Carat squirrel cage bulbs (a breakthrough invention as alternative to the traditional energy inefficient incandescent version) are by renowned Belgian lighting company Tekna.

The entrance welcomes with its victorian patterned tiles which make an immediate statement - creates a greater sense of space and has attitude. At the entrance we also included lots of antique mirror work vertical and horizontal with borders of moulding, and moulded panel work used repeatedly throughout to add texture and a version of gentleman's club warmth. This can be seen quite clearly in the inky green snug area to the left of the bar. 


As the space when you enter seems to divide into halves we intentionally made the decision to work with some of the through bar views and using mirror where necessary to give reflection of other spaces and angles that gives a better and useful sense of wholeness. 



The tanned, distressed leather banquet seating was existing and became a strong
player in the colour dynamics of the space. The rich blue green holds its own and relates the strong victorian aesthetic element perfectly. 








The beautiful blown glass pendents travel down the line of the banquet seating. Close to the bar we designed and produced a wine storage/display cabinet painted in a very dark blue with integrated LED lighting that highlights the space with a level of sweet shop visual treat.


A waiter and serving station was created in panelled woodwork with Carrara marble, which made the link between guest and food deliberately close. Clean white marble tops and a mosaiced pattern slip glazed metro tiles to the wall, add a playful charm. They also highlight the scale of the room, bringing the front and rear into view at the same time and giving each of these spaces equal status.




This project was an absolutely pleasure to work on, and has been a hit - with even the restaurant's most loyal regulars. For more details about Portabello, visit their website here 


Portabello






Extension with Leicht Kitchen and Nigel Slater Inspired Folding Doors

A Victorian townhouse was brought into the 21st century with a new full width, 9 metre extension devised through collaboration with architect Keith Durham, that houses the kitchen and dining spaces. The premise of the project was to increase the ground floor space  giving better functionality to the house and to allow the family to experience a greater sense of freedom within it. Alongside the extension and kitchen shown here, our brief was to apply a smart townhouse aesthetic throughout in a refurbishment of the whole property.





The a wall of folding doors, and exotic and rich teak parquet flooring were integral to the clients wishes as they represented very strong and important aesthetics. Working with the charm of the original Victorian house, we wanted to produce a bright, modern, crisp space, that linked through from the original by using the warmth and detailing of flooring and joinery.





The kitchen design was devised alongside Martin Williamson of InHouse Kitchens, featuring Leicht furniture and Seimens appliances, and the top is a honed matt white composite stone top, which on the island wraps around the two ends. The bank of full height units in a brushed and textured copper oak cleverly conceals the integrated appliances whilst adding texture and substance to the room. The units are double thickness and appear in certain frames as a large mass. Units on the back of the kitchen side add a great deal of extra storage whilst consuming a small but light cloakroom and lavatory snugly separated from the living spaces. Patent double glazing along the one side of the extension floods light through giving that sense of openness that characterises modern living.  Ligne Roset furniture further enhances the dining space. In the far corner of the bank of units a tambour unit conceals a pull out coffee maker and other kitchen aids.















The folding sliding doors are bespoke joinery units made for us by Stuart Barr Joinery, informed by the look of the Nigel Slater bi-folds in Nigel Slater's Simple Cooking.
















The whole scheme was devised with the addition of a fireplace set into the existing chimney void. Initially it was to be a functioning proving oven but was revised to a multi-fuel stove for increased warmth and celebration throughout. Below shows the integrated scandi fireplace with valuable log storage space below. 








































For drama and purpose over the island we used three Circus pendents from Innermost. They are sprayed black on the outside with a copper gold look on the inner. Other lights used are under shelf task lighting  just above the sink area and on upper cheek of the ceiling, three discrete white Hero spot lights to add an extra degree of function.






































Below are examples of some of the design material we prepared and used for the process of client communication.








exterior view of side extension and bi-folding doors



The whole of the ground floor received further treatment, turning what was the old kitchen into a library and media space and upgrading the dining room into a more formal space for entertaining. For continuity the teak herringbone flooring extended throughout the whole of the ground floor complete with a  double edging detail.  The pendent lighting is a fabulous mouth blown crystal glass piece by design studio Atelier Areti named Kirschlag. Two lamps were commissioned and occupy this and the adjoining sitting room / library.  Both have differing lightly feather etched patterns and are exquisite with or without light.




































The round ceiling rose, as so often happens in these types of properties, disappears over time and it is often a great event putting them back as they add focus and elegance to a room.







































Upstairs we updated bathrooms, including this one shown with encaustic patterned cement tiles from Portugal, which we also adopted for the exterior facelift to the front of the property.








a north oxford house

Drawing room and dining room >

In this drawing room (a proper, first floor affair) light and the huge windows are all. We wanted to create a design that played with formal traditional drawing room style, and messed about with it, adding colour and fun. A huge element of the room is the floor to ceiling shelving structure, which is constructed from ash with an ebonised hardwood that delineates and configures the structure. This was designed to house various elements including books, objects, TV and media and a stereo with space for cd's. This was a one-off item which we created for the client. It holds your attention and commands the space that it lies in. There is an almost art deco feel to it, with the dark and light woods and polished finish.

bookshelves-detail-rogue-designs.png

detail of shelving

The sofas were sourced from Fran at Liscious Interiors, and re-upholstered in striking fabrics in soft brushes cotton. The colours reflected the dining space but lifted and lightened. The Chesterfield grey sofa has a purple running through it and we applied very bright violet buttons to the piece and dressed with lime accents. The lime - or chartreuse - Chesterfield was very simply dressed and as such we reversed the colour works and had predominantly purple striped cushions in a deep velvet. 

A small day bed wrapped in a defined purple inhabits a space close to the book shelves and near to the distinctive sash windows.

A  balance between privacy and letting the light through was achieved by way of full length linen curtains with a silk floral motif running through, and a sheer roman blind that drops down (colourfully) to frost out the background, again in natural linen but with colourful stripes.

We strongly felt that this huge space did not need a central ceiling light, but to light the space with

soft accent lighting at lower level would create better intimacy and harmony in an evening. The Alega glass table lamps (designed by

Vico Magistretti

in 1970) sits on Platner side tables, each a stainless steel spoke framework with a glass top created by

Warren Platne

r for Knoll in the 1960's. 

glass-lamp-rogue-designs.png

Platner side table with Alega lamp

The beautiful carrera marble fireplace is a focal point, its gas fire supplementing the classicv column radiators (in anthracite) we put in, and the alcoves either side are wallpapered with a fantastic

Jocelyn Warner

design. Period chairs were limed and re-upholstered in a funky silk, and an

Elizabeth Blackadder

piece catches the eye above the fire.

Dining Space >

window-reflection-rogue-designs.png

glass table reflecting the window

Previous to its present incarnation, this was a jumbled space, cold and dark and possibly with mixed use. In its present form we decided to change shape a little. Keeping the 'hand made element' we made something a little more formal i.e  an evening dining space for guests.

Our client wanted a dark, intimate and rich palette, but with linking colour from the drawing room next door. Assisted by our client the colour we chose was a plum colour, in a proper flat matte, not cold. It sits more in the red spectrum. This gives it a deep lushness that with the addition of evening candle light, brings in a grandiose quality.

dining-room-wine-store-rogue-designs.png

Add caption

Of the candelabra; it is hand crafted by French makers

Benoit Vieubled

and acquired through

Cameron Peters Fine Lighting

. Its artisan qualities shine out. Made from brass and copper and french glass yoghurt jars and crystals. It was further modified by myself with deft assistance by the owner, converting it from electrical to hold candles. Furthermore, it hangs by sash cord which is fixed via a pulley system and tied off near the dumb waiter. This allows the piece to be raised and lowered when necessary. Secondary lighting is via the picture lights overhanging the inherited pieces of our client.

On first entering the room from the hallway it becomes obvious that the dumb waiter is no longer functioning. Due to modifications in the past it had become a non viable restoration project. This left us with the awkward shape in the corner! As the owner wished to house some of his wine collection we decided that the best purpose of the woodwork was to turn it into a wine rack. I think this works especially well and looks rather neat and perfect as well as being architectural and fun.

wine-rack-rogue-designs.png

wine storage

The carrera marble fireplace needed extensive cleaning to the marble to bring it up to a gleam. The hearth was simply of limed concrete and as such was painted black. A writing bureau, hand painted by Maitre Allegre now sits in the alcove closest to the window.

A collage of mirrors that we collected from a host of places hang in a pattern above the fireplace.

dining-room-parktown-rogue-designs.png

detail of candelabra with mirrors behind

Under foot, the carpet is a fine boucle in a light grey that adds a level of luxury to the rooms. It runs through the dining and lounge space and spills on through the hallway and staircase.

Below is a picture of the hallway with the dining space chimney wall framed in the antique mirror.

a new arts and crafts - a maple kitchen - north oxford house

North Oxford house with an arts and crafts twist        

Kitchen

hand made kitchen in maple with crafted panels, pre mural.

The Parktown area of Oxford is a famous landmark site and this project was sited within one of the crescents that exists. The house was built in the late 1850's and was designed by Samuel Lipscomb Seckham using bath stone as the main building material. He was a surveyor who was commissioned by St John's college to develop the area. Should you wish to visit you will see that It is very reminiscent of the famous crescent at Bath, and was no doubt designed to air a similar grand quality.

The project was to be the total revamp of one of the houses in the crescent (in stages), and as such the owners had decided to commission us to 'lift its spirit'. This project was a total pleasure in many ways, as we both loved the house and its character. The house is set out over 5 floors, the piano nobile with the drawing room and dining rooms on the 1st floor with views over the Parktown gardens. Initially there was not a great deal of harmony in the house (design-wise) as it was split into several separate apartments at some point in its near history. This then meant having a total vision for the place, whilst staging the works and bringing the different spaces together again. Whilst first impressions of the house in this state would to many dictate a total 'rip out' and refurbishment, we felt, with the support of our clients, that a restoration approach could achieve more and retain the character of the property. Restoration is a gentler, but more intricate, complicated and sometimes time consuming project, but the end result is so much subtler and kinder to the house that we believe it is well worth it. It seems a shame for example to replace a lathe and plaster wall with modern plasterboard just because it is flatter - after all, the character of an old house is in the quirks (and ripping out old lathes always makes we think of the person who whittled each piece of timber individually).

Whist full of character, the house had been badly mistreated in some ways, and many of the period features were somewhat obscured. Its most notable features were the beautiful handrail that trailed throughout the floors; the tall glazed internal doors; the high ceilings with original cornice and the fireplace in the ground floor living space. The main carrera marble fireplace housed decorative Duncan Grant tiles and it was this detail that gifted us the idea of using art and craft to give the house an artisan feel, that it possibly once had. We wanted to take the core concepts of arts and crafts, but tweak and modernise, and see if the ethos and character could also work within a contemporary and modern sleekness. 

Many of the items that you will see throughout are either one-off or unique in someway. So, while we adapted some of the arts and crafts designs, we weren't faithful to them. In fact we gave the designs a modern twist, something that would sit alongside individual modern items and not look out of place.

It is a house like no other and so for inspiration we decided to visit Blackwell House, an arts and crafts exhibition house, situated in the Lake District, which houses a wonderful collection of relevant pieces. William de Morgan tiles adorn the fireplace surrounds in the large house. Also on show in the exhibition at the time, were lots of ceramic work. The hallmark of the arts and crafts period was the level of embelishment. Nothing was left blank and ordinary if at all possible. 


At the time of investigating where we should place our design, we came across an artisanal nature to the craft industry in Holland and in the UK.  Leading designers like Hella Jongherius, were bringing their passion for 'handmade' skills within modern production methods to the table. 

cowparsley splashback with led lighting


So it became quite clear, that within the make over, it wouldn't be out of place to acquire craft from other sources to sit alongside our own brand of arts and craft informed designs, and link through for a very unique experience.

initial design concepts

initial design concept 2 (island unit)
.

The project began at the deep end with the transformation of the kitchen and ground floor lounge area that ran into each other separated by 2.8m high glass double doors.

kitchen; The main features are the maple worktops,
white washed flooring, mural, backlit bespoke splashback and the Hans Wegner dining room set with a soaped wood finish, the aga that sits in the middle and the suspended lighting. 

the lighting with its suspension cables allows flexibility in the positioning of the light modules.

Its a galley style kitchen, tapering to the back wall. A 3 metre long worktop island unit separates the dining space from the rest of the kitchen, and cupboard doors to the dining side give access to plates and glasses. The island unit is made using solid maple, providing storage and housing two built in fridges. An electric oven and a ceramic hob supplement the aga, and provide alternative cooking means during hot summers. The handles were created using maple and brass as an insert. Each of the handles were carved with their own unique pattern.


The element of carving and piercing also shows in the end panel of the island unit. 

fine detailing in the maple 

brass inlay into the maple side panel

The colour scheme is light cream, sage green, natural blond wood with black elements and details. On the wall with the aga to the centre, a long set of wall units with doors in a matte sage green, spans the full length of the room, straddling the large chimney breast, serving to emphasize the length of the room. Below, the base units continue in solid maple.



The lighting throughout the room was commissioned from Album lighting via the marvellous Cameron Peters Fine Lighting  based in Ardington, near Wantage, Oxfordshire. Album, an Italian firm, specialise in suspended LED and halogen lighting for heritage projects - since the cabling runs around the top of the walls, and is only fixed at minimal points, it is perfect for heritage or valuable ceilings, and much more sensitive a scheme than halogen spotlights. We chose a mix of light modules for interest and to mark different areas - thus elegant blown glass fittings are suspended above the dining table, and architectural spotlights provide task lighting above the island. For fun, a single moon piece hangs above the sink area.

Full height sliding wooden doors act as shutters in front of the glass doors which lead to the garden. We adorned these with a mural of cow parsley, in a slightly darker colour than the paintwork, so as not to make it too pronounced, but play with how you percieve the room and how you experience it. 


















The cowparsley theme ran into the splashbacks. This was experimental (a technique more often associated with exhibition stands) but works tremendously well. They are very colorful and add another level of patternwork that uplifts the space either side of the chimney breast. These were designed by Charlotte and printed onto thick perspex. The perspex was separated by a few centimetres from the wall, and an LED lighting strip was placed between, in order to light up the panels from behind and add further refinement to the overall design. They fit very precisely from worktop to underside of wall cabinets.

cowparsley etched onto the plexiglass

plexiglass backsplash design


The table and chairs are classic designs by Hans Wegner. The table is soaped oak, which is an under-used finish these days, but is no less hardy than varnish. It is non yellow and soft in appearance. This consideration of material is just whay you would expect from the master craftsman.

hans wegner table and chairs

dark chair detailing and table in soaped oak and grey


More Scandinavian design appears with the Secto floor lamp in black and natural birch wood, designed by finnish architect Seppo Koho.


All in all, the room is a blend of materials, textures and style that hints at what will continue elsewhere in the house.

Light, open, softly spoken but crafty and unique.

victorian terrace: funky lounge and a dj room


walnut alcove shelving and cast concrete fireplace
Yr: 2003+/-

The lounge that was created, presented a warm front that included the brown tan leather sofas and one-off walnut alcove units that flanked the chimney breast. There was also a cvo firevault fire.
The fireplace as part of the one-off aspect that we like to throw into our projects was designed and created by rogue-designs.  It's made from concrete, parts of which were cast in-situ. It appears to float due to the shadow detail that we applied to it.

The walnut floor is a feature to the whole of the ground floor - approximately 96sqm. 

The vintage lighting again, was sourced through a supplier in London. 

The image above the fireplace was from a collage that i made and had blown up onto a foam panel. 


The space known as the DJ room, is situated between the kitchen and the lounge. The room housed the owners record collection. A functioning glitter ball was also attached to the ceiling. A discreet spotlight activated the spinning ball when switched on.  

No speaker cable was visible due in part to it all being housed behind the skirting boards. speaker points were then dotted around for increased flexibility. 

The dj console was created by rogue-designs, especially to house the dj decks with a space under for other electronic equipment. It was sprayed in a gloss lipstick red. As it was a feature to the space it warranted a stand alone quality.



bespoke dj deck









Smallest rooms


The Joy of small rooms !

This was a recently completed room. Although very small it works tremendously well. The whole design was tailored around creating a very modern feel but with a nod to the buildings victorian build. The room now has an updated charm and function that sits well within its context. At just under 90cm wide and at 3metres in length the room was as per its counterpart room above, very tight and awkward with victorian render that was somewhat rough. Formalising this for the 21st century was not without its hitches. prior to our intervention there featured a sink that was set into the wall, which created a large absence when taken out. The pipework that ran under the floor was actually supporting the old flooring at certain points. Yet these were surmountable.

Overall scheme with rich colours clean lines and good function

Dornbracht IMO' tap
The cupboard that hangs above the sink was a 'one-off' with sliding runners
that moves out of the way for access. This allowed a much larger mirror to be had. This also helped to bounce light around the space. The wallpaper is 'Anemone' by Neisha Crossland. The toilet pan is by Antonio Lupi - 'evakuo' and the basin that sits upon a 'one-off', rogue-designs stained oak basin unit with concealed toilet roll holder is  'Orbis'. Its a wonderful shape, a tear drop shape that presents well. The tap is by Dornbracht; 'IMO' that has a pressured lever that is wonderfully smooth to operate. The floor is a dark Oak stained floor on construction ply which was wrapped up and formed part of the toilet back panel. The ceiling pendent light is 'circus' by the Italian brand Foscarini and works very well to provide a subtle yet glowing light through the space.



Antonio Luipi 'evakuo' toilet

wallpaper behind bevelled glass splashback

'one-off' sliding mirror cabinet by rogue-designs
Neisha Crossland Anemone' wallpaper adding warmth



 see also Canal side house wetroom



Victorian house: a study

The study: 

The theme of dark stained wood and flooring continued through to this room from the living room area. Made from Piranha Pine at 40mm thick, a funky shelving system with some lime green enclosed spaces houses an assortment of books and objects.


study


study with shelving

corner view

The huge window overlooking the garden floods in greenly, so we took this palette and applied it to the walls, by way of a heritage Zoffany wallpaper pattern, fresh and funky.

The wall lights that you see are of glass and stainless steel with a silver frame and a light canvas square shade. The light is titled 'opera' by Chad lighting.  This room was always going to be a study room for books and ephemera and so it was important not to overcomplicate the room.

a beautiful wall light
The main lighting is represented by one ceiling rose from bsweden called 'gladys' by designer Louise Hederstrm.  It features three concentric steel circles that have a laser cut floral motif. Very simple and yet very elegant. We thought it would be particularly apt given the lamp shade in the main lounge area was also a series of laser cut concentric circles.

the gladys lampshade from b sweden

Aside from this, we gave the room a desk, constructed from the same material as the shelving and let the owners take it from there!


a grown up living room - victorian house

Victorian House living room  

features: cast concrete fire surround with wood detailing, stained piranha pine box shelving, dark stained flooring, double sliding curtain rail, danish rosewood sideboard, architectural light shade, handmade radiator covers.

We chose to use an organic and muted colour range complimented by the use of dark stained material (including the floor), textures and subtle tonal changes to create an intimate room with a quiet aspect. We promptly got to work on a fireplace design, and hand cast a simple white polished concrete piece with stained wood mantle.  A large L shaped grey corner sofa provides flexible seating. The vintage Danish rosewood sideboard from our lovely friends at The Modern Warehouse sits on the back wall against striking wallpaper.

Opposite, on either side of the chimney breast, there is a configuration of dark stained display boxes of differing sizes. They are like a sliding rule - each pair amounts to the same space, separated by the chimney breast. We used the wallpaper at the backs to set off the objects within, and create continuity with the feature wall. The large oak table with two slate insets is the owners own.

Above the fireplace is a very striking mirror which the owner purchased from a gallery in the Czeck republic. Its strong features also informed the design and it adds a great focal point to the room.

The cut perspex pendant lamp is designed by Louise Campbell for Louis Poulsen, titled 'collage', has 3 concentric white perspex rings which have been laser cut with a floral motif. When the light is on, it creates a wonderful flecked floral pattern around the room, especially when the light is subdued. As there are many strong design elements in the room, the light shade doesn't actually dominate, it rather delicately absorbs with colours.  In fact it tends to sit in the background until lit when it takes on its splendour.

The ceiling rose that you see, is a beautifully crafted plaster reproduction of a heritage piece that was installed as part of the design.We felt the ceiling looked rather sparse without it. While it wasn't evident that a ceiling rose had been there previously, the room has fine original cornice molding, so it sits perfectly well, and creates focus and mixes the old and new with the contemporary chandelier.

Two pairs of curtains, one sheer linen for privacy, the other a thick raw weave cotton for warmth, are full length and hang on a double bay window pole  in brushed steel (a piece of clever engineering) It is finished off with hand blown glass finials. Small touches against large bold pieces help to create little surprises that enhance the experience.

Below are a few detail shots from the room.