Portabello Restaurant Bar and Grill

Portabello Restaurant and Bar on South Parade in Oxford's Summertown.

We were asked to assist with refurbishing this extremely popular premises, working with the owner to develop his aesthetic vision for the transformation, we provided design advice and working solutions throughout the process. The turnaround refit was 12 days in total which was achieved for a re-launch just before Christmas.

The general concept was to marry elements of Victorian charm and contemporary Soho house chic to give a warm, harmonised functional and aesthetic space, close, expansive, crisp and bright, and create a space to reflect their reputation for quality, providing a fitting backdrop for their renowned menu.

Particular attention was drawn to the need for less intrusive lighting whilst promoting a real sparkle. Ceiling spotlights were inset to help reduce glare and all lighting was placed on dimmers. The pendent lighting which we used as a subtle signature piece we dotted around the bar and over the seating to the right of the bar are from Northern lighting based in Sweden.

Beautiful cast bronze wall lights with an innovative cold cathode Carat squirrel cage bulbs (a breakthrough invention as alternative to the traditional energy inefficient incandescent version) are by renowned Belgian lighting company Tekna.

The entrance welcomes with its victorian patterned tiles which make an immediate statement - creates a greater sense of space and has attitude. At the entrance we also included lots of antique mirror work vertical and horizontal with borders of moulding, and moulded panel work used repeatedly throughout to add texture and a version of gentleman's club warmth. This can be seen quite clearly in the inky green snug area to the left of the bar. 

As the space when you enter seems to divide into halves we intentionally made the decision to work with some of the through bar views and using mirror where necessary to give reflection of other spaces and angles that gives a better and useful sense of wholeness. 

The tanned, distressed leather banquet seating was existing and became a strong

Extension with wrap around glazing and feature stove

This is a project that fully embraces the beauty of open spaces with warm tones and a gentle touch. Allowing a great deal of light in and giving a quality of scandinavian cool. The brief was to design a substantial ground floor extension that would work in both contrast and harmony with a traditional North Oxford house.

The development of this design was carried out over a long period of consultation with the clients, to get the maximum quality to the space whilst working within a specific budget. Architecture was devised working with Ifor Rhys, and the contract completed to a great standard by Stuart Barr Ltd.

Its a picture of restraint, and with the settling of this project late in the year it will be very exciting to see the garden and extension in full bloom giving the full picture to the original concept of outdoor / indoor extension.

The kitchen, hand made by Barr Kitchens links the Victorian house and its contemporary extension -
the post for this project is located here

The illustration below shows our early vision for the project. We will be posting a vimeo video of the sketch up model shortly. In brief, a small existing extension was removed, and the back of the house opened up to create a through kitchen an huge space for indoor/ outdoor dining and entertaining, linked externally by level threshold paving externally.

Wrap around sliding doors on the corner take in even the winter sun, and create a real sense of openness. These were commissioned and installed by fineline aluminium architectural glazing who's slimline profiles particularly suited the projects requirements. Detailing the exterior includes

Solid ash extending table

A 10-12 seat extending table in solid ash some 3.1metres long in full extension. In normal station it is an 8 seater with a width of 1metre 10cm. The light ash wood with striking long grain creates a real drama and presence in the room. This was made by rogue-designs in November and was installed just prior to the festive period.

These are some of the shots from the workshop during the making process followed by some in situ shots. The idea was to retain the top patterns of the ash through to the extensions. The design process given the limitations in size and mechanics lead us to explore the separating of one of the legs into two, with two extensions at one end. We created a carriage that slid from inside to reveal ribs that held the two leafs of the top.

Here you can see the extension at its fullest. The ribs that allow air to flow, and keep the leafs flat. The leg side stretchers were given a shoulder support in the main stable leg in order to taxi along allowing it to be a guide for re-completing the closure. See below. 

Bespoke modern shaker kitchen

A bespoke, fully handmade and hand painted kitchen is based on the modern shaker style with shallow simple profiles. It is painted in a warm grey along with the walls to give a sense of enclosure. Overall, the design is understated with its palette of oak, matt honed Carrara marble and dove grey, but charged with warmth.

Simple techniques like replacing some of the door panels with glass to further enhance the light touch' visually allow a transit from one end of the building to the other.

From the kitchen door, a large bank of fully fitted units utilise every inch of space from floor to ceiling, and conceal the underfloor heating elements, integrated fridges, freezers and wine storage, bread drawers and cheese shelf, leaving an ample pantry section.

The solid oak shelving with integrated LED lighting above the sink area is a display space for some of the collected ceramics of the client. The vertical lines of the tongue and groove above the sink address the need to balance and take the visual weight out the the large units to the right.

The flooring is a large format honed Romany Blue limestone from Portugal and laid down in a quilted running length pattern, with various widths to subtly break up the large expanses.

The island unit has a multi top; oak and carrara marble pastry section. The oak leads the eye towards the dining and lounge section of the space whilst the marble is utility. Above, the task lighting is by Nordlux and kept clean and simple, with downlighting in a warm light LED.

family bathroom with patterned cement tiles

A really elegant, clean lined family bathroom featuring a large walk in shower space with low profile  tray and an integrated space for washing and drying clothes.

Whilst the main part of the design was kept mainly to white the whole design comes alive with a punchy encaustic tiled floor in a geometric design.

The plans also show the spaces that were created for accommodating the washing machine and dryer to the right of the door. Added storage space was created above the toilet and concealed cistern with Oak faced full height doors.


The rogue-designs workshop has arrived -

Well it has been around since February 2013 and here is one of the items recently commissioned by our client for their very large extended living space. It is a day bed utilising 2 very large cast iron and rubber castors and recycled materials that once formed their original kitchen flooring and also their roof timbers. The non-virgin wood was sympathetically brought back to life and treated /finished with a light oil containing carnauba wax mix for added longevity. The addition of white in the mix keeps the wood from yellowing.

The metal work was designed by RD to give that industrial feel. The hex head rivets on the outside continue with the theme. Due consideration was given to its place in the extension and as a consequence we went for heavy duty rubber as opposed to cast iron to stop any scratching or marking of the surface.

Below some of the make up work in the workshop....

In its intended space!

The daybed cushions are made to measure with fabric by Ian Mankin, striped pattern and in an 100% linen for durability. On the one side of the daybed (footed end) is a holding bar for