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






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.

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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. 

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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 >

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

basement living - victorian house

project: living area, kitchen, extension


features: reclaimed antique parquet muhuhu flooring, Silestone worktop, induction hob, wine storage




the kitchen with view to dining room extension (phase 6)


This basement conversion and extension was a huge project, and a fantastic space. A lot of work was carried out to turn what was a dark, and slightly dank basement area into a family space that is extremely habitable and stylish, and given its situation, filled with light. We tackled the project in stages, firstly creating a cosy living and play area in the bay window space at the front along with a central kitchen, and then a pause before the major building project of a light and airy new extension as a dining area, which leads out onto a same level outdoor living space. 



When we began, red 'quarry style' tiles sat on the floor, a dark blue 'county style' kitchen blocked off the far end of the room which has now been opened up to the new extension, replacing a rather leaky conservatory type space. The chimney at the living end had also been blocked up previously and the damp that was inside the chimney was interfering with the skirting. All of this was opened up and the rubble removed. We reclaimed the space in the chimney as a display point with a huge oak lintel, and vented it to keep the chimney aerated. The floor was a different story; all the tiles were removed and fortunately, we did get back to a layer of concrete on top of which was laid a breathable membrane. The floor was then put down on a substrate. After much time fitting and sanding the reclaimed parquet the effect was complete - it appeared as if it had been down for the past 120 years or so. A lot of work and time went into the floor but the results are remarkable.




parquet flooring in herringbone configuration










Choosing something that has been used before, despite the clean up process, still means that you are quite likely to get an amount of character running through the floor which can be lacking in pristine wooden floors. we also loved the 'eco' quality of a reclaimed floor, and its history was in keeping with the character of the house. The parquet block floor started life as we knew it in individual blanks bundled into yard squares, and stored in a warehouse in Bath (Walcott reclamation) who deal with architectural antiques. In its previous incarnation it was a school gym floor. It is a wonderful material - dense and fragrant and full of character. Every individual block was processed to be the right depth, this involved stripping off the tar from the bottom using an electric planer. The resulting floor shows incredible personality.












We specified and designed a German made kitchen which was supplied by a local company. We wanted all the surfaces to reflect as much light as possible, and chose a high gloss finish in a beautifully light olive green.  A breakfast bar was added to the scheme which doubled as a useful preparation area and keeps the space sociable.  The wrap around top is Silestone, a quartz based composite stone which has anti-bacterial properties and is incredibly hardwearing and anti corrosion resistant.   Within the L shaped configuration above a miele inset induction hob was set. The owners approached induction cooking after much discussion with some trepidation, but have cherished it ever since. The hob is set into its the top and colour matched intumescent mastik was used to seal it into place. Behind the miele induction hob a hardened glass splashback was fitted, and flat plate sockets (low profile) in stainless steel sit neatly against glass tiles and add further detail.















The wine carrier set into the second chimney stack neatly fills a problem space or 'hole' that the owner wanted us to address. The inventive storage is a modification of a design from another recent project where we reclaimed a disused dumb waiter to house the owners wine collection. The oak frame makes the item stand alone and announce its presence.


Above the undermount sink, the space was kept incredibly simple and uncluttered; a couple of solid oak shelves run the width of the recess. These have inset uplighters in them that cast a light up through the glassware that the owner is collecting. Glass brick shaped tiles behind the stainless steel tap act as the splashback and also help to reflect some light. The franke tap is quite cool too, as it also has a built in water filter.








During the kitchen conversion what was then the back wall was knocked out and steels were put in to accommodate what would become an extension in phase 6. Planning for the extension didn't present too much difficulty, but consideration was applied to where the flooring would end and how it could follow on at exactly the same height. We were also conscious of where the kitchen units would end and how they would interact with the new space. We decided to dress the flooring right up to a false wall that was created for the interim period (on the back of the house) so the extension would be seamless. see Victorian house: extension.


 
We used the pale olive and lichen colour scheme as a modern twist on the classic 'farrow and ball' kind of lichen, the intension was to keep the space light with colours that follow through from the rest of the house, and are classic and timeless palette. 


shelving and storage

This is a small selection of the shelving that was completed recently in an ancient barn. Originally the first unit below had a fixed back, but then it was decided that we could use glass as a partition and create the mirror of the shelves on the reverse. This was quite tricky but in the end the result was an excellent room divider, double depth shelving, light coming through from both sides during the day, and illuminable at night.
the second set of photos show built in storage for a wine cellar/ utility room. 


First stage completed.

The unit is completed when painted white and becomes reflective and bright.

The unit is perfectly nested between the two structural oak uprights.


In another room in the house, wardrobe space was created with the routed lines relating to the style of the interior doors.

A view of the open shelving


A wine storage perfectly sited in an alcove.
The unit with features an integrated led strip lights that run through the tops of each cell.