Tiles & Tribulation
Part of the lease terms that we agreed was to have a complete strip out of all existing parts of the previous tenants. This included: removing old suspended ceiling, wall console units, all cabling and wires, old floor tiles (more on that later on), shop front "made good", removal of toilets, urinals and sinks and installing a boiler for us. Basically, the deal was to leave the site in a good enough condition for us to come in and complete the fit out.
During the past few months, Tom and I haven't been able to stay away. As you can imagine we are super keen and excited to see what has been hiding under the tired dated facades. We want to be there when every layer is peeled back; not only to see the real condition the unit is in, but to see if the walls give up its secrets of what the place used to be before it was a betting shop. So far, we still have no idea. I'll do a post on the history of the shop if/when I can find out any information.
One of the first things we noticed when we first viewed the shop was the tiles. There were these beautiful cream coloured Terrazzo tiles hidden underneath the generic blue betting shop tiles. We were unsure upon first viewing whether they ran throughout the shop or that they were in good enough condition to keep. Amazingly they did run throughout as well which was confirmed when the builders completed the strip out of the old tiles. While a bit worse for wear, after a good clean and polish, they should come up a treat.
When the console units, suspended ceiling, wires and old plaster boards came down it really opened up the space in quite a fascinating way. A space when in it's homogenised betting shop guise from a dingy, oppressive and badly lit space to one where I could imagine the promise of light and expanse. Naturally! As I was never a betting man rarely stepping inside a bookies I suppose I am unable to understand the design concept of a betting shop. It feels like we want to create the opposite environment to that of a betting shop. Where a betting shop is closed off from the outside world, we want to let the outside world in. When the partition wall came down, the outside world with its awesome natural light poured in through the three massive front windows. It was amazing. It also made us realise how large the space actually was and the huge task we have ahead.
A few other interesting things appeared. It looked like a door to the unit next door had been bricked up, unsympathetically with ugly breeze blocks (of course!) This led us to believe that previously it was one unit. We know that next door was once a launderette. How the two places were once is still a mystery. Its now a brilliant place called "Water into Beer", a shop for all your brewing needs. It also sells over 200 different beers for you to take away or drink at the bar.
And then few issues also became apparent. A pipe from the flat upstairs takes a detour into our shop via the ceiling and disappears again through a wall - we have been told this cannot be removed. It was, of course hidden by the suspended ceiling so we had no idea it was there. We will have to make it work somehow. Unfortunately and annoyingly the manner in which the builders removed the suspended ceiling damaged the original, so this had to be addressed. It will now have to be stripped back to the concrete and re-plastered. This was something we were hoping to avoid as we wanted to keep the charm of the shop, and the original ceiling was definitely a part of that. Some things can't be helped however and we will make it work.
I will go into more detail in my next post about our vision for how we want the shop to look. We only have a modest budget but we want to put your hearts into the place by doing as much of the work as possible by ourselves.