Tower House gets a lick of paint

Camille Reltien16 Feb 2016Inside Hub Ventures

Last month the Tower House finally entered the 21st Century. We gave the 17th century townhouse a facelift and erased its most recent '90s makeover. From a murky red, brown, green and cream colour scheme to a more Nordic and streamlined style.

Who are we? We are the fantastic team of building enthusiasts put together by our head locomotive, Annie. Annie is our mastermind. There's also Ben, our property and facilities manager and general genius for all things electrical and mechanical. And then there's me, improvised furniture restorer and interior designer.

We couldn't repaint the whole building ourselves, so Annie called upon Aspire, a team of professionals who share our values. Aspire is an Oxfordshire based social business that delivers commercial services (from painting and decorating to grounds management) while creating opportunities for people who are struggling to find employment. This helps them build the skills to find lasting employment in the field of their choice. To find out more, check out their impact report. Aspire's values resonate with ours at Hub Ventures, so partnering with them was clearly the way to go. Working with their team is a choice that we did not regret and hope to repeat in the future.

The Tower House is a challenge due to its funny fifteenth century shape (it used to be part of the city walls), and its crumbly seventeenth century masonry. This complicated things for a novice like me but also for our most seasoned blinds installers who got close to throwing in the towel. We soon discovered there was little chance of successfully mounting things on the walls. Goodbye TV brackets, goodbye wall cubes. It was time for plan B. We put the TVs on desks and bought pin legs for the wall cubes.

Redoing Tower House was all about thinking laterally. It's a good thing the whole team has a talent for this. Although slightly frightening when working to a deadline, finding alternative solutions was a way to adhere to our beliefs of reusing and repurposing instead of buying new. Suddenly frumpy wall lights became stylish with a few coats of paint. Once you start painting things it's hard to stop. We repainted old headboards, bureaux, chairs and bedside tables. This made them look a little less dated and allowed us to add extra flashes of colour to a neutral scheme.

We did get a couple of pieces of new furniture because some of our oldies were just beyond the powers of the Farrow and Ball paint makeover. We tried to keep it close to home. Our local carpenter, Oli, made our new desks for all the bigger rooms and only uses repurposed wood. Nkuku was another one of our providers, we chose it for its ethical and eco friendly products.

Sara, Student Hubs Executive Director and Sunday seamstress, volunteered to teach me to make decorative pillows for the beds. It took two and half hours and we managed to fit in a roast chicken dinner in the process. For these pillows and other re-upholstery (old chair seats), we used Annie Sloan fabric. Annie Sloan is a born-in-Oxford brand which made using their fabrics even more worthwhile. The ticking we chose is a beautiful and hard wearing material. It's hard to find these qualities rolled into one product, but Annie Sloan clearly know what they are doing.

Taking our local consumption further we also decided to ditch our mini individually wrapped hand-soaps and switch to Of Woodstock based just outside Oxford. The products are a joy for the senses, good for your skin and for the earth (certified by the soil association). Our shampoos and body soaps are from slightly further afield (Kent) and are made by Cris at Skin Blossom. They also have the organic and Soil Association credentials.

Our beautifully refurbished rooms are now available to book! Just give us a call on 01865 246 828 or drop by our website www.towerhouseoxford.co.uk

Author: Camille Reltien

Camille is our in-house interior design consultant and tenant manager. She ensures our buildings are great places to work, relax, eat, sleep and celebrate. Her favourite design magazines are Elle Deco and Cote Sud.