Blank Canvas

After a productive day filling the skip yesterday, today was spent along similar lines, removing the framework of the much disliked suspended ceiling, and removing the last of the fibreboard panelling and boxing around the dining room – a relic of a 70’s shop fit. The electricians stripped out the terrifying remnants of multiple wiring systems, some were still in use, others hung rotting and useless above the ceiling tiles.

We are now back to the bones of the building, and our thoughts have turned to the design of the space – possible flooring options, lighting fixtures, and paintwork for the bar. The extra height without the ceiling has really opened the space up, and the blank canvas before us is a pleasing one, certainly well lit on these bright spring days, with our big windows.

In removing the building’s clothes, a few little nasty surprises have been unearthed, but so too have a few little gems. Above what will be the bar, there is an ancient fireplace support for the flat above. I have been warned not to try and remove it, but with its jaunty silhouette and rather shapely cast iron angle brackets, this doesn’t seem an unpleasant feature to be lumbered with. We are now trying to work out how to make a feature of it. The front door of the restaurant was previously overhung by a flimsy wooden box which (loosely) housed a pair of extraction fans. They have now been isolated for safety, and the useless fans are spinning in the roaring draft which blows through the fan housing. While dismantling the box work today I noticed that behind it, the fans were actually set in a piece of plywood attached to a very old and very beautiful window frame – a fanlight – with an apparently functional, cast iron rack and pinion mechanism for opening. It’s quite an exciting find, and it opens up the possibility of some extra light, some ventilation and a beautiful, functional thing right on the threshold.

It is fascinating and pleasing to watch the skip contents wax and wane over the day, as we top it up with old flooring and broken plasterboard, and enterprising passers by salvage useful things from the wreckage. We tried to load the tip with the least desirable items at the bottom and a few choice items at the top, and it seems to be working.