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Monday, June 24, 2024

Jeffreys Interiors on the wonder and whimsy of The Tempus

Jeffreys Interiors have created vibrant and whimsical interiors at new hospitality venue The Tempus taking inspiration from a classic fantasy tale.

Edinburgh-based studio Jeffreys Interiors have designed the interior spaces at The Tempus – the new hotel, bar and restaurant at the Charlton Hall Estate near Alnwick. Inspired by the well-known tale Alice in Wonderland, the new venue is the latest venture from Northumberland-based hospitality group The Doxford Group.

The Tempus Gin Gang entrance Vignette © ZACandZAC

The Tempus is home to 15 individually designed guest bedrooms and suites, as well as a ground floor bar, restaurant and orangery. Jeffreys Interiors have created a wonderland for guests with juxtaposing colour palettes and lavish soft furnishings.

Here, the design team – led by Design Director Jo Aynsley and Designer Carley Buick – discuss this bold and brilliant project.

Bar to Restuarant © ZACandZAC

How did you become involved in this project?

We became involved with the project six years ago as we were initially approached to help convert Charlton Hall from a residential home into a wedding venue. The client always had wider plans for the Estate and we very much worked with these in mind from day one. Aside from knowing the client personally as we grew up in the same part of Northumberland, Richard [Shell, Owner and Director at The Doxford Group] had seen Jeffreys work on The Rutland Hotel apartments and liked the punchy design created for them, which was something a little different.

Angle Dinning to bar © ZACandZAC

Where did the conversation with the client begin and what was their brief?

After working the client on the hotel’s sister location, Charlton Hall, we were given full creative freedom, and the licence to go a little bonkers – to develop the Alice in Wonderland vibe and see where we could take it. Nestled in a 150-acre country estate in winsome Northumberland – a place with more wedding venues than anywhere else in the UK – we had two years to transform cattle sheds into a vibrant, exciting wonderland. Into somewhere that couldn’t be considered ‘just another option’ on a long list of venues, but instead a destination in its own right – the choice. Our aim was to create a visual delight, a daring place of wonder and awe. Somewhere you’d want to visit again and again so you could try out a different room every time or return to your favourite secret getaway with whichever explosion of colour and pattern called to you. It had to appeal to both the young couple escaping the bright lights of Newcastle and to your Granny for a Sunday Lunch.

Bar Overview © ZACandZAC

Tell us about some of the new design features that were unique to this project?

I spotted these antique arches on a buying trip years ago and just knew we had to have them, seen in the bar. Richard didn’t need them at the time, but I knew they would go into the hotel eventually. So I persuaded Richard to buy them on the basis of using them for wedding fair stands at exhibitions in the mean time. They have gained a few more marks of time being carted around before finding their home in the restaurant, but this has just added to their story.

Dinning to Bar 2 © ZACandZAC

To help create zones within the open plan areas, tree branches were sourced from the estate grounds as a basis to build faux foliage canopy’s from. Not only did this provide privacy and a divide between each section, the lighting design bounces a depth of shadows within the area. Paired with Jean Paul Gaultier wallpaper, featuring a woodland walk with coloured suits from a deck of cards, we wanted to create a sense of being inside Tugly Wood in Alice in Wonderland. The bar was also a nod to wonderland, featuring a ‘time for tea’ cake stand style bar display with venetian plastered alcoves.

Brand identity is key to commercial design. The Doxford Group owl logo was carved into the stonework of the fireplace and can also be seen on the gable ends of the building too.

Bar through arches © ZACandZAC

What is your favourite space at The Tempus?

The Gin Gang entrance. The original gin gang, [a structure built to enclose a horse engine], was transformed into the hotel entrance. The stone was repointed, the original wood was left bare above, showcasing the beautiful pattern in the construction. A limestone effect tile was laid on the floor.

Gin Gang – Photo by ZAC and ZAC

The entrance needed a wow piece. I was searching for something a contemporary to juxtapose the original features and connected with British artist and designer, April Key. The idea started with a neon squiggle that would run from the gin gang into the library but that become very difficult around the technicalities of fire doors. Sometimes in design, a constraint can force you to think outside the box and lead to something even better. In this case it did. A modern neon installation inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s starry night. The neon lights swirl around the tree and rafters.

This space really sets the tone for the rest of the venue, mixing original with new ideas to create wonder and delight.

Bar Sofa Detail © ZACandZAC

Can you talk about the use of materials throughout?

From the build side of the job, we were careful to re-use as much original stonework as possible from the demolition. This kept the story and character of the building and could be re-purposed within – for example the stone arches seen in the bar/ restaurant. From an interiors point of view, being mindful of the rules and regulations of commercial spaces we wanted it to feel luxurious, hard wearing and in some areas in keeping. Engineered oak floorboards paired with limestone effect porcelain tiles downstairs.

Pretty much everything you see has been custom designed for this project, hand made to a high level and one-off pieces for the venue.

Room 2 © ZACandZAC

How did you tackle issues surrounding sustainability?

We made the building as thermally efficient as possible with a mind to be able to move over to renewables to reduce the buildings carbon footprint whilst working with the constraints around being so close to a highly listed building and keeping an aesthetic in keeping with the surrounding.

Room 1 – 3 © ZACandZAC

What was the most challenging part about this project?

Timescales, this was started off the back of covid so supply of materials was difficult. Layouts – moving goals throughout, for example The Orangery was added on quite late into the build, which proved challenging from a build and design perspective.

Accessible WC © ZACandZAC

W: jeffreys-interiors.co.uk | IG: @jeffreysinteriorsed

Photography by ZACandZAC

Rebekah Killigrew
Rebekah Killigrewhttp://www.rebekahkilligrew.com
Editor | www.architecturemagazine.co.uk | www.interiordesignermagazine.co.uk

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