We are nearly ready to open the doors to our new ‘London Townhouse’
11th January 2017
We are nearly there!!
A little peek at the inside……
The first big event of our year will be the opening of our new deVOL Townhouse Showroom in St. John’s Square, Clerkenwell. It’s taken a little longer than we hoped to open the doors to this beautiful new place, but it will be worth the wait I know. We have two wonderful guys who have meticulously renovated what was a shabby stationers, into an evocative and carefully considered space in which to display our beautiful bespoke cupboards. They are the same two guys who carefully and lovingly restored and re built much of Cotes Mill, four years ago. They have been camping down in St. John’s Square and have got to know this area of London really well, it’s an absolute pleasure to go down every week or so to see the progress. It’s getting to the time when all the little bits and bobs come together and we really are getting excited about the culmination of so many months work. It seems a long time ago since Paul and I sat on the roof garden, drinking Champagne with Victor, the very handsome Estate agent, on the day we got the keys and the temperature was in the eighties!!
me and Victor the estate agent checking out the stationers as a potential spot for a shop!!!
A fully stocked shop!! this would make a perfect Kitchen showroom!!
Finally, today, much of the furniture is going down to be fitted, I’ve just been into the workshop and the handles are being put on the base of a large dresser, there is finally an end in sight. A new paint colour (Clerkenwell Blue of course!!) and some new aged brass handles on some really grand and substantial pieces of Classic English Furniture by deVOL. We bought a beautiful chandelier a few months ago and that is also being packed into the van this evening, that will be fitted this week, all newly renovated, cleaned and mended by Steph and Phil Collins (not the Phil Collins!! but nevertheless a very lovely man and very clever too!!).
Finishing touches before the furniture goes to its new home in the city
A few weeks ago Claire finally finished making the large tiles for the sink wall, the inspiration for the look came from the exterior tile work around Clerkenwell, big green hued tiles, with a lovely gloss. It’s a traditional look for a public house and they are often used inside and out, I love these old traditional East End Pubs, very down to earth yet really beautifully and simply decorated, the perfect combination for our new showroom and a key source of inspiration.
Two of the tiled exteriors that inspired us in Clerkenwell
The tiles were a labour of love and Claire worked so hard to acheive the colours I wanted, she’s a star and I’m sure when people see these awesome tiles we will have a new big seller. I really don’t think you can buy anything similar both in size and colour, maybe a few reclaimed ones might be around if you hunt. They look great and what was so important was that they didn’t look contrived or out of place, I think we pulled that one off big time, they have charm, authenticity and every one is hand made so all a tiny bit different.
Claires test tiles, getting the perfect glaze takes dedication
Our colour choices for the showroom
We love the feel of our new shop, the original features and the way it just feels timeless and full of history and charm, high celings, boarded walls and very old floors, it’s a dream of a building, so elegant and so special. The building is on five levels plus a roof garden (one of the best bits!!) and we have only done the first two so far, the basement and the ground floor street level showroom, but it’s more than enough to give you a feel for deVOL and our furniture and gives us all lots more to get stuck into over the next few months. Just like Cotes Mill this renovation is not about ripping everything out and starting again, it’s about bringing back to life the bones of the building. These old London houses have something really special and it is a privilege to be able to work on one.
The building is on five storeys
The privileged view from the roof garden down into St. John’s Priory.
Up on the roof!
There is of course lots of hassles encountered along the way when you do a renovation, but Paul has a steely determination and keeps everyone on track. He has years of practice in this game and makes quick decisions and sensible choices constantly throughout the project. Without this knowledge and dogged perseverance the project could have taken so much longer. We only ever wanted to make the building beautiful and respect its history and location, but I guess you always have to prove yourself and jump through a few hoops. It’s certainly not a game for the faint hearted, but wow it is so worth it when everything comes good in the end.
Our shop is surrounded by history and beauty.
You often forget the journey when you are reaching the end, it’s good to have some photographs to remind you of special and important choices that we made along the way. A very exciting moment was our first visit to the roof garden, the view and the realisation that this building was located in one of the most special squares in London. Then there were the weeks of anticipation as Robyn the decorator finally covered over the dingy dark purple paint that covered the shop and began to breathe new life into the building with a fresh and very authentic putty coloured paint. Then the time not so long ago when Huw went down to paint the deVOL sign by hand, the weather was cold and Christmas was in the air and finally our beautiful shop had its name.
Huw becomes an expert sign writer
Robin giving Huw a helping hand in the cold fading light
Of course there were many memorable moments, a big one for us was revealing the old floorboards and realising we could clean them up and make them shine, they were good enough to become our new shop floor, how wonderful.
Since buying the shop everyone says, why have you got two showrooms in Clerkenwell and we have a very easy answer. We love the area, we love the way it’s not the full on bit of London but the quiet and cool and quite refined bit. It’s easy to get to, it’s got everything and the mix of our Tysoe Street shop on Exmouth market and our new home on St. John’s Square gives us the full Clerkenwell effect. When we drive down to the shop, as soon as we get off Upper Street, Islington and drive down into Clerkenwell the pace just slows down. Of course it’s still buzzing and full of life but just at a more chilled pace.
The renovations in full flow, i popped over to the Zetter Hotel roof terrace to get this birds eye view…………..
Then there is the food scene, it’s as good as it gets and even in our very own St John’s Square we are within walking distance of probably some of the best places to eat in London. There is North African and Spanish inspired ‘Moro’ a long standing favourite on Exmouth Market, then Sushi Tetsu on Jerusalem Passage, literally three steps from our new showroom!! This tiny Japanese restaurant seats about 7 people has a waiting list months long and has a minimum spend of £60 per person, yet by all accounts if you like your sushi fresh and made in front of you you won’t get better.
The very exclusive sushi tetsu – www.sushitetsu.co.uk
Then of course there is St John Bread and Wine on St. John’s Street, again a few steps from us, this was the write up from the Independent on this classic place – ”St John in Clerkenwell is a flawless restaurant in an unimprovable setting which serves perfect food and drink at stupendously affordable prices. I’m not talking about the restaurant here, though that’s good; I’m talking about the bar, with its stripped-back whitewash walls and bakery churning out hot, fresh puddings and loaves”.
This blog has turned into a guide for hanging out in Clerkenwell but I don’t mind I’m just so keen to push the point home, Clerkenwell is a great place. I’m a sucker for an old fashioned pub and they don’t come much better than The Jerusalem Tavern on Britton Street (again 2 mins away) it’s so authentic and proper, although it’s actually been renovated but you would never believe it, great beers, snacks and pub ambiance that spills out onto the street.
such inspiring interiors in The Jerusalem Tavern, Clerkenwell – www.stpetersbrewery.co.uk
There seems to be something about Clerkenwell that attracts the best, Bill Granger the amazing Australian celebrity chef chose to open his very elegant ‘Granger and Co’ on Sekforde Street, just opposite St James Church, Clerkenwell, this restaurant is understated, very hard to get a table and has by all accounts the best brunch pancakes in London.
I think I will continue my foody tour of Clerkenwell in another blog as I’m missing the point as usual!! Although I feel I must just mention when talking food of ‘The Artisan of Clerkenwell’ on St. John’s Square, it’s become our local favourite when visiting the new showroom. Their flat Iron steak with fab fries and salad is everyone’s favourite and for £12 it’s proof that you don’t have to break the bank to get a great meal in London. Actually, the initial reason for the visit was the draught guinness which is a must for Paul, but when he discovered the steak it became the only place for him.
So the reason for the blog is to let all you lovely people who actually read it know that we are opening our new showroom in the next few weeks and we will keep you updated through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as well as the blog of our progress and final opening day.
The Zetter Townhouse on St Johns Square, one of our most elegant neighbours – www.thezettertownhouse.com