The deVOL Showroom & Townhouse Renovation, what an incredible journey
16th May 2017
What a fun and crazy and challenging and totally cool journey it has been renovating our beautiful new deVOL Showroom and Townhouse. In just under a year we’ve transformed this landmark corner building in the heart of Clerkenwell into an evocative and really carefully considered space in which to display our handmade English furniture, artisan interior products and unusual and quirky old vintage bits and pieces. And over the last week we have been working super hard to get everything ready and just perfect for the opening of our deVOL Townhouse next Tuesday at Clerkenwell Design Week.
So, what better time to show you the incredible transformation of this space, from painting the outside of the building to adding the final touches and props and pieces of furniture to the wonderful old rooms up in the house.
When we bought this beautiful building in the summer of last year it was an old stationers shop, painted in a dark and gloomy shade of purpley grey and in need of a little love…
We did some research and found out that way back, many years ago, this very shop was actually painted in a much paler, softer colour, an off-white kind of shade, not too creamy and not too grey, just right. So we knew that’s exactly what we had to do, take it back to its former beauty…
Next it was down into the dingy and gloomy old basement. I don’t think we’ve ever shown you this little transformation on the blog before, well, I say little…. it was actually a very big transformation and a lot of painstaking and very hard work for our lovely builders. And, although it doesn’t look like it, this was probably the trickiest part of the whole project, and definitely the part which took the longest. So here’s a before shot…
And here’s the after. Nothing too exciting I know, but it was a special moment for us to see it looking all shiny and new again and a feeling that we’d overcome that first big hurdle and it was only up from there. This is now home to our lovely team of St. John’s Square Kitchen Designers, and our newest member of the London team, Rhys, who works in production and has just moved up from Cotes Mill.
So, after the basement was complete we moved up into the showroom above. Now I know I’ve blogged lots and lots about our amazing showroom before, but just incase you’ve forgotten how truly beautiful it looks (and how not so beautiful it looked before!!!), I’ll show you one more time!
Here it is as a stationers…
And here it is as a deVOL showroom. It still makes me smile every time I see it, I didn’t think it was possible for a space to look quite this perfect.
We have put all our love and passion into restoring this beautiful old building into something special for our customers, and just like Cotes Mill, this renovation was never about ripping everything out and starting again, it was about bringing back to life the bones of the building. And I suppose when the bones of the building are as special as those in our new deVOL Showroom and Townhouse, it makes it that little bit easier and a whole lot more special.
Next it was time to move up into the house above, two floors of big rooms with wonderfully high ceilings and lovely original features, what a treat. All of the rooms were simply painted white when we bought the building, so our wonderful painter, Robin, got to work with some super moody shades of blue and green and grey and brown…
It’s strange how almost immediately the house started to feel like a proper home again, even without furniture or people, it just had a cosy feel, like a place you’d like to snuggle down and spend time in.
I’m already excited to see the photographs that Helen and Tim take here, the light is incredible and the way it shines in through the old sash windows and dances around the walls is mesmerising.
The room in the photo below sits on the first floor of the house and has great views right out over St. John’s Square. The original cupboards are lovely and not something that we ever wanted to get rid of. In time, we will add some deVOL pieces of furniture into the rooms of the house, and something that’s really special about our cupboards is that they work so well when mixed with quirky old pieces and original storage, a timeless mix of old and new.
We decided to keep the ceilings and all of the original coving and detailing white, in keeping with proper old Georgian style, I love the contrast of light and dark and it adds a wonderful feeling of grandeur to each room.
And of course the original wooden floorboards are going nowhere! They’re just in need of a good old scrub and a fresh lick of that deep black paint and they’ll be perfect.
This whole house just feels timeless and full of history and charm, it’s a dream of a building, so elegant and so special.
The bathroom is looking cool, painted in a real moody grey. We’ve still got to add lots of greenery and houseplants in here, it’s going to feel like a little urban jungle, kind of exotic and eccentric, everything we love.
And there’s Robin, tackling the huge staircase that runs right up through the four floors of this building.
And now time for my favourite part. Adding the lighting and the props and the furniture and all the lovely things that Helen has sourced. But first, unloading it from the van, thanks Phil!
An antique chandelier in each room and some quirky taxidermy to give the house a proper eccentric East End feel.
No mod cons or gadgets, just gloriously real and original and slightly wonky rooms filled with lovely things.
Rows of tall church candles and deep bluey grey walls.
Shelves stacked with an amazing collection of books for all kinds of people with all kinds of interests. The books, amongst lots of the other things you’ll see in this blog, will all be for sale. So, for first dibs be sure to come and visit us while the design week is on!
A little break for a picture of Helen in the sunshine!
And points where we walked into the rooms and wondered how we were ever going to get the whole house finished in time for opening on Tuesday…
But little by little our amazing Creative Director Helen worked her magic on each room.
Creating little corners of loveliness, places to sit and chill and take it all in.
A perfectly balanced mix of old and new. It will be such a treat for our customers to wander up through the rooms of this house and uncover the treasures in each one.
We feel very lucky to have been able to put a deVOL stamp on this historic building in our own lovely little way.
And it wouldn’t be a deVOL house without a table tennis table! Our Director, Paul, is incredible at table tennis, pretty much unbeatable… so if anyone is up for a challenge pop up to the games room on the top floor of the house during Clerkenwell Design Week and it will be game on!
And finally it was time to tackle the roof garden. My absolute favourite part of this whole showroom and house, a little piece of paradise in the centre of busy London.
The first task was removing a tree, what a job for Phil and Paul and Ben! After nearly two days of digging and digging, finally they freed the roots from the old galvanised metal tub and then we faced the problem of getting the tree down into the van on the street below. Paul came up with the idea of lowering the tree down the central cavity of the house, right in-between the spiralling stairs. So we took our positions and got to work, each person lowering the tree to the person below and then running down to join the line ready for their next go… granted, Helen and I were probably a little bit more of a hindrance than a help, but it’s the thought that counts, right!? That tree was a heavy old thing…
But the beautiful tree made it down safely and is now on its way back to Cotes Mill to be planted up and have a lovely life there.
Finally the sun came out from the behind the clouds and the skies cleared, so Helen and the guys got to work planting up stacks of pots and old antique urns.
There’s tree ferns, lavender, rosemary, hydrangeas and bay trees, a proper English garden with a few little exotic bits too. The perfect finishing point to the little fantasy world we have created here on the corner of St. John’s Square.
Of course, we’re in England so the glorious sunshine didn’t last all that long! But we still got a few shots of the roof garden looking a whole lot lovelier than before.
We’re keeping our fingers crossed for sunshine at Clerkenwell Design Week so all our customers and guests can enjoy a little break from the hustle and bustle with some drinks and snacks and a little chill out up on the roof.
And rather than ending this blog an a rainy and grey note, I thought I’d share a few more little shots that I’ve taken around the house…
I really hope you’ve enjoyed going back through the journey of our showroom and townhouse renovation. Taking a little bit of time out from the madness to sit down and write this blog this morning has been so cool, and although reading this blog might be over in just a matter of minutes, it’s reminded me just how much we really have achieved over the past year.
Even though we’ve still got a couple more days of hard work, the deVOL Townhouse is looking incredible and is something to be very proud of I think. Everybody has worked so hard and put everything they have into making this a really special place for our customers, a place to explore, a place filled with beautiful and unusual and really well made things, a place to gather inspiration or just have a little nosey, a proper design destination.
To explore the finished showroom and house please do come and see us at Clerkenwell Design Week running from 23rd – 25th May, we’d really love to show you around. If you can’t make it to the design week don’t worry, the house will remain open after the show is over and I will be sure to blog some more finished photos of each room as soon as I can!
– The deVOL Showroom & Townhouse will be open throughout CDW from 9am – 9pm
– You will find us at 36 St. John’s Square, London, EC1V 4JJ