At Living with Daisy we’re always on the lookout for fresh, innovative interior design and places to inspire us and get the creative juices flowing.
For us, interiors and lifestyle go hand in hand, and one is nothing without the other. Getting the right balance is fundamental. You can’t sit and enjoy a meal in a beautifully designed space if the food and drink are poor and equally you can’t relax and enjoy a hearty meal if the interiors aren’t up to scratch. (Well, we can’t anyway!)
We were so excited when our local, the The Grantley Arms in Wonersh opened its doors on 24th October, having managed to strike the perfect balance of the two.
We recently met up with Paul Ayres, the man behind the gorgeous interior design to find out what makes him tick and how he managed to transform what was once a stuffy ‘old man’s pub’ into a stylish, buzzing hub for the Surrey Hills villages, just South of Guildford.
Who are the owners and what was the inspiration behind the partnership?
The two directors, Chris Frederick and Rich Cryer both live in Wonersh and commute into London. They had a dream of buying and restoring their local pub, transforming it into something fresh and modern that could be enjoyed by all members of the community.
“Villages need assets”, says Paul “and we wanted to create a pub that Wonersh and the surrounding villages could be proud of.”
Head chef Matt Edmondson previously ran the kitchens at The Gherkin in London. “He’s a great guy: full of passion and open to new ideas. He doesn’t have the notorious inflated ego often so common among head chefs. He just wants to make sure our diners have a great experience and will do what it takes.”
How long did the design process and renovation take?
“We had 6 weeks from exchange to completion to come up with a design. We used Pinterest to build the design vocabulary and come up with that all-important key inspirational image.”
“The whole renovation process took just 4 weeks from completion. It was mad, all hands on deck! Thankfully, I have great team of reliable contractors behind me – the ordering process was insane!”
What was the first thing that needed to change?
“Previously the pub was full of really dark mahogany coloured wood, beams and brass everywhere. The first thing we needed to do was lighten the whole space. We opened up the bar by removing the heavy old surround, added our own cornicing and painting everything a very soft grey. We added a large piece of antiqued mirror and hangers for the glasses to reflect more light into the space.”
What was the overall feel you were going for?
“We wanted to strike a good balance between contemporary and traditional. It’s an old village pub (originally a coaching inn) steeped in history. We used traditional fabrics such as herringbones, tweeds and tartans to maintain character, but used these in lovely modern colours: warm greys and taupe colours to keep it informal.
“We want our customers to feel relaxed, while still maintaining a sense of elegance, a place where you can come for a special occasion. This is why we have the more formal restaurant to the back of the pub which works really well.”
Were there any nasty surprises that set you back during the renovation?
“When we first lifted the carpet, we discovered beautiful, mahogany parquet flooring, which we assumed ran under the entire carpet. Sadly not, it was only a surround that went along the outer edges. So we had to replace the entire floor with solid oak, which was an unforeseen expense and added further delay to an already very restrictive timeline.”
Where did you source your furniture?
“We had a large number beautiful button back leather and tweed booths made, with a collection of rustic tables and chairs sourced from around the Home Counties.”
One of the pubs more iconic pieces is our large vintage wine bin in the dining room, we love this but it wouldn’t fit through the doors so we had to de and reassemble it.”
What were your most lavish and transformative purchases?
“The large antiqued mirror behind the bar that adds warmth and depth to the space, the wine bin in the restaurant which we use to store all our wine, and the tiles in the bathroom; it’s always a false economy to scrimp on tiles!”
Which part of the pub works really well?
“We really love the private dining room, which can be hired out for private functions and conferences. It’s the oldest part of the building and has so much character and heritage. The large inglenook fireplace and bread oven are an integral feature of this room. We couldn’t believe it was being used as a storeroom and couldn’t wait to open it up and have it used and enjoyed again.”
What are your plans for the future?
“I want to spend a bit more time tweaking the old private dining room and really extracting the character and charm from this room. It’s such an asset to our establishment and an excellent space for private entertaining. It looks good now, but there’s more fun to be had with furniture and accessories.”
“I’m constantly tweaking and making sure the ambience and flow of the space is right. I’ve got lots more exciting plans for the future. It’s my job to make sure this place never becomes stagnant and is constantly evolving.”