As a designer I love the challenge of taking a difficult space and turning it into something special.
To be honest, they don’t come much trickier than a 1970’s basement garage. Dark, gloomy with no architectural merit at all and an awful lot of services that needed to be hidden, utilities that needed easy access and good storage.
Alongside hiding all of these were practical considerations for the surfaces. They needed to be hard wearing, chic and very importantly for the flooring, a surface that didn’t screech with tyres turning. I also needed to be aware of rubber marks on the floor.
I set off to look at alternatives. I looked at polished concrete which would give a contemporary feel but quickly discounted it because it would mark with warm tyres and the supplier couldn’t guarantee a flawless finish. My favourite solution was to use limestone cobbles or stets. They would look extremely smart, would not easily mark, especially when we sealed them, and wouldn’t give any noise apart from a very satisfactory, quiet rumble.
It took 23,000 stets to complete the floor and we sorted them into sizes to make the laying easier and therefore quicker.I had to consider that I needed to create walkways and also create some architectural integrity. The garage is low and long and the eye needs something to rest on other than the concrete pillars. I chose a beautiful limestone to clad the pillars. They are clad with whole sheets but I had the stone mason make artificial cuts so they appear as handsome blocks. These sit well with the pavements laid with large limestone tiles to break up the stets. I also delineated the parking places with contrasting slate stets.
For the unsightly but necessary ventilation panels, I created panels out of veneer which float an inch or so in front of the vents allowing ventilation. This allowed me to increase the size of the vents because you couldn’t see them thereby increasing the much need air flow. I used the same type of veneer panels to hide the wheelie bins, and added bronze handles.
For the lighting I used stylish contemporary fittings that reflect light off the ceiling and also illuminate the floor. I also created a false ceiling and set lighting around the inside of the new vault to reflect light in to the main parking area.
At the far end of the garage was a difficult light well.
Because the garage is so large, I wanted a focal point to give interest.
I found an amazing bean tree in a local outdoor furniture store. I had created a theme of bronze with the door handles and had powder coated the garage door so decided to continue the theme with the tree. I had it bronze powder coated and set within its own small courtyard of stets. We created a series of bronze leaves that tumble down the wall.The effect is of an art installation, wholly at home. I’ve popped an uplight in the floor so it looks fabulous at night too.
I am thrilled with the transformation and so is the client.