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14th April 2014
Last year at The Depot in Barnes we signed a new lease and as part of the deal our landlords agreed to build us a new conservatory. Consequently we faced a three week closure and the opportunity to refurbish the restaurant itself.
The closure date loomed and the small question of how to synchronise the building programme with floorers, decorators, electricians and plumbers, not to mention French polishers, general repairs and upholsterers, all vying for access, time and territory.
The best decision (not that it always felt that way) was to work alongside a designer who brought energy and style to proceedings, albeit adding to the pressure and stress, if truth be told. Apparently a designer’s job is to achieve the vision, push clients to the brink and take all the credit, much to the chagrin of you know who.
Saner, wiser restaurateurs would have employed a team of shop fitters and told them to get on with it, but that would have been far too easy (and expensive), hence I found myself project managing in deepest, darkest January.
Maurice, the floorer, would start the week at 7 a.m. with the drone of the sander (hoover attachment de rigueur) and arduous process of stripping, staining and coating our pitch pine parquet floor with a hardened polyurethane lacquer.
Billy, the decorator, worked the weekend shift and Monika, our dynamic designer, came up with a palate of grey (ruben ashes as it happens) middle buff, mustard (yellow and pink to you and me) and basalt (deepest blue).
Talk about rattling my comfort zone and challenging my faith in the design process…I’d have opted for magnolia (joke...grant me some taste) or leastways the safety of neutral, sober colours. When she introduced turquoise on the banquettes in the bar area, I nearly flipped. Talk about creative tension, it was at breaking point, as I tried in vain to convey my more sober instincts.
Meanwhile the conservatory was going up apace, with the deadline looking not only achievable, but possibly ahead of schedule. Roofing the scaffold, which, initially, looked a bit belt and braces to me, meant the work could continue uninterrupted, while the rain relentlessly drummed on the corrugated iron ‘top’.
Andy, the French polisher busied himself transforming our antique pine tables, creating a silver grey wash to deaden the orange of the original wood and christened Monika (who hails from Poland) the ‘cheese roll’ (cockney to his core and rhyming slang aplenty*).
But the star of the show was Jim, such a solid (on the big side is Jim), committed and reliable pair of hands, amidst barely organised chaos, with years of repairs to catch up on and small jobs to complete, as February 7th approached fast…too fast for comfort.
Never an angry word, ever willing and gracious in his role as handyman and high in my esteem and appreciation for the help and support he so generously gave, as he was pulled from pillar to post, and back again.
And then there was Landy, the ‘sparks’, who inherited a challenging job and made the best of it in stoical style, with a determination that fitted the bill, getting us lit up in the nick of time; new light fittings arriving on the penultimate day to add to the manic mix and test his resolve to the max.
Finally, the re-upholstered furniture came back from The London Sofa Company, a quick turn around if ever there was one, especially as their factory is in south Wales, and thanks to the seventh cavalry (the Depot team had returned) we made it, just, but we made it.
A bit, make that more than a bit, stressful, I’ll admit, but stimulating and satisfying in equal measure. We’ll let you be the judge of the resulting new look…suffice to say a little work went into it.
Check out the results yourself - see the photos below, or better still book up for a night out at The Depot in Barnes.
*amongst others Andy taught me, (at least the ones that I can share in polite company)...
- cheese roll : Pole… - fish tank : bank - choc ice : price - barney and rubble : trouble - bog roll : Pole (when Monika annoyed him!)