This Garrads Road property, currently housing Broomwood Hall Lower School is slowly being converted for a new Senior School that will be part of the Broomwood Hall family, opening September 2020. It is an original arts and crafts house dating back to the early 20th century with lots of stunning original features including a fully panelled hallway and tiled bathroom. I love working on quirky properties with lots of intricate detailing and could immediately tell this had the potential to be a very exciting project.
As with all of our projects, we build the brief out once we know what our clients want. Having already worked on the School’s Nightingale Road site, that houses Broomwood Hall Upper, we knew the School’s special ethos that binds all of the children across the schools together. But still this new Senior School needed its own identity within the Northwood Schools Family.
For this project, within our larger remit, our brief was to design a common room for children aged 11 to 16 from what was previously the pre-prep school library. To create a room with a ‘common room’ feel that the children could work in both individually and collaboratively in teams, and a place the children would want to ‘hang out’ in. The room also, in terms of design aesthetic, needed to appeal to boys and girls aged 11-16 which posed the obvious challenge given that very few 11 year old girls like the same things as a 16 year old boy! And finally, the school wanted the space to be one where parents would know their children would feel at home. So, we needed to combine a design element that upheld the traditional ethos of the school whilst factoring in heavy usage (i.e. the room needed to be robust) and to ultimately be an inspiring space for the children.
With the building dating back to early 20th Century and having already spotted the original panelling in the hallway, I knew that there might be some hidden gems in our first room. In the former library there were some glorious original interior architectural details, from the picture and dado rails to the original deep skirting boards and panelled doors.
I was almost certain there would be a decorative ceiling hidden behind the high false ceiling. Within minutes of our first site meeting, we got a ladder and managed to remove a ceiling tile. And much to our delight there was indeed the most glorious ceiling hidden beneath the tiles.
Of equal importance as the room needing to appeal to boys and girls, was the need for the space to be somewhere the students could be both social and concentrate on their work. With this in mind I knew we couldn’t make the room as colour rich as we would if it was a purely social space – where we would have gone very bold with colour blocking the walls, for example.
So, we went for a neutral, very pale grey on the walls and brought the colour in through furniture and accessories. I also wanted the ceiling to really sing so went for white above the picture rail which highlighted the detailing on this newly renovated period feature.
I chose blue for its inspirational, relaxing and calming qualities although interestingly, given the history of the building, it is a traditional arts and crafts colour. Mixed with the pops of orange and yellow we brought in through the furniture and accessories this both brought the room to life and made it more relevant. Below is an extract from traditional arts and crafts palettes from Bricks & Brass followed by the first coat of blue on the existing woodwork.
NEW MEETS OLD
The room has many glorious architectural features which I wanted to highlight. There is a lot of woodwork in the room and we painted these colourful to reverse the traditionally colourful walls and paler woodwork. We created the individual study pods for the room which were painted in the same colour as the rest of the woodwork to bring them fully into the design. We added a lot of natural wood accents throughout the room to give the space a modern almost Skandi feel, but without distracting too much from the traditional features.
From initial concept design to completed study pods.
Behind the scenes there was a lot of work to strip the room down, rewire, rework the lighting and ensure there were enough electrical points, TV points, floor plugs and all the other technical details so the room could be fully utilised.
With a short timeline of 6 weeks we were unable to use many of our usual commercial bespoke trade suppliers. As with all our projects we always prioritise using British brands and this project was no different. All the furniture, soft furnishings and lighting were from British suppliers and makers. We sourced some key items again from others of our trusted UK suppliers including Neptune, Cox & Cox, Style Library , Habitat & The Living Room and the curtains were made by hand in our own Herefordshire workshop.
We worked with Smith & Brooke Architects and T&L Construction at breakneck speed to get the room ready and our clients are thrilled with the end result and feel very much that the space truly reflects the ethos of the school – a space for children to happily evolve into young adults.