Bank House Bar and Kitchen
Brief: Turn an old bank building in to a wine bar and kitchen.
Banks closing on our high streets leave a huge gap in the community. And after the second to last bank, National Westminster, closed in Chislehurst the building sat empty for six months. Our client team took on the space wanting to introduce a new venture that would contribute to the life of the high street and be a draw for the surrounding area.
Nugget Design were involved from the outset to ensure our client got the most potential from their property investment and to realise their vision for the project: an independent bar and kitchen with a unique, quality offer.
Our client team – including Stuart Gillies (former CEO of the Gordon Ramsey group) launching this as his first independent local project – knew what they wanted to create; an alternative to high street chains, focusing on a local fresh, quality food and drink offer.
They also knew the feel of the place they wanted to create: elegant, confident and friendly. Not perfect, but instead somewhere that would quickly become familiar and put people at ease. The interior would be the stage for the Bank House team to share their food and drink expertise.
We were appointed to take the project from concept to implementation as well as the branding, including signage design, for what would become Bank House Wine Bar and Kitchen
Although from outside the building is an attractive (slightly worn) Edwardian red brick, inside the modern NatWest fit out had long dominated. But even on the first walk around the potential of the building was evident.
By starting to strip back the cladding we rediscovered the elements that had been obscured. Our design would need to restore and enhance these; make the inside a reflection of the exterior. We wanted to keep the history and create a fitting response to the building. Colour and material selection were crucial to this and to ensuring the new wine bar and kitchen would be a warm, welcoming space.
In the concept stage we worked on various layouts, allowing our clients to see the opportunities of the space. From the start of the project Stuart was keen to introduce wine on tap using KeyKeg, an innovative and more sustainable drink delivery system. So each layout option was centred around a feature bar greeting people as they entered from the street and showcasing the taps.
However with any interior project but particularly with hospitality, ‘flow’ is key. So it was decided to make a more significant change and relocate the toilets from the first floor to the basement.
Although this made for a far more intensive build process it transformed the potential of the space, increasing the possible number of covers with the addition of an upstairs bar also using the KeyKeg wine tap system
Where possible we kept the original features, or a restored version, including brickwork and window architraves. Where it was not possible to keep the original plaster or brick we used a light, natural plaster Clayworks wall finish.
Everyone loved the original bank vault and so we put it to work as a cold store and wine cellar, with a glass door for access to the area ensuring customers would be able to share in seeing it.
As well as keeping original features, for both brand and interior we wanted to organically draw on the working life of the building. Aged copper was our starting point which we used for the bar tops. Other detailing followed with aged metals, brasses and bronzes, including the hand crafted signage on the fascia.
To create warmth we used a dark stain oak wood for the bespoke built furniture pieces we designed – the feature bars, waiter stations and wall panels and shelving. The flooring was chosen as a double smoked oak finish.
Loose furniture and fabric finishes were based on muted colours of nature to keep the warmth and comfort, with small bursts of bright highlights, so no one colour dominated. Space was left for art to be hung on the walls, which could then provide further vibrancy as desired.
The client team all have a connection to Chislehurst and it was important the interior reflect its locality. To celebrate the green spaces Chislehurst is known for and Bank House’s location on the commons, we developed a bespoke version of Woodchip & Magnolia’s English countryside mural wallpaper for the stairway and the toilets.
For lighting we selected a range of tonal metals with simple, unfussy profiles as well as designing bespoke feature lights to go with the ground floor main dining area.
The combination of bespoke, contract and one off restored furniture pieces in a range of dark woods gives character to the space. Referencing the history of the building through the coins and the vault carries the brand identity from the business cards and stationery through the interior, ranging from the playful bespoke wayfinding signage, simple copper lettering for the main exterior sign and fixtures and fittings drawing on the same metallic palette.
With the now open plan first floor we created a relaxed lounge space taking full advantage of both the natural light and the location of 11 High Street with its lovely views out to Chislehurst pond.
The night safe has been restored to reveal a gleaming feature of the sensitively restored frontage.
On the feature wallpaper running round the stairway you can find Canadian geese, ducks and other wildlife. And as all the project team are devoted dog owners- as are many Chislehurst residents – we were sure to include a dog for Bank House.
Bank House is now open and Stuart, his wife Cecilia and their fantastic team are looking forward to welcoming everyone.
Below are a few before and after photographs that help you see the dramatic change and what creative input and effective design team can do to a space.
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