Design Focus: The Longhouse

When the Buzzworks Group unveils a new project it’s always a Red Letter day, so I was eager to take in what the Ayrshire-based pub company had done to The Longhouse in Kilmarnock. The Blair brothers’ penchant for quality was apparent straight away with lots of heavy well finished wood, well upholstered furniture, a considered design and refit that cost in the region of six figures. It’s over two floors with one long ground floor space
housing the bar and 80-cover restaurant and a smaller upper floor with a space for private functions and/or staff training. THR3 Design was employed to bring the project, mainly cosmetic, to life. Kenny Blair explains,
“We had to be mindful of the age and make-up of the building as it’s fairly old and long in shape. It wasn’t a fullscale job in that there were no real structural changes, as we concentrated more on adapting what we had and
redecoration. We also made the kitchen slightly bigger. The whole thing took about six weeks to complete.” The triumph behind what is at first glance a bold design is that they may have adapted and worked from a former design, but it feels new nevertheless. The people of Kilmarnock are also appreciating the turnaround at The Longhouse, as it was almost full of lunchtime trade when I visited. What first struck me about the interior is how warming the colour palates used made the long, narrow-ish space. The entrance leads into a small reception area with a desk, behind which is some extraordinary wallpaper, that has been used fairly extensively. It
was, Kenny told me, imported from Holland and, funnily enough, it does have something of the psychedelic about it, creating a 3-D optical illusion of raised concaves. That was what my eyes told my
brain, but I’m sure it varies from person to person. Other than that, all that’s left to say about it is that it is shiny and gold and silver in colour. Through into the main body of the space, and the layout is
straightforwardly a bar to the left, horse-shoe booths along the opposite wall, underneath small windows. The bar stops for a servery, while the booths continue, giving way to a raised area at the far end, with dining tables and chairs. Just before this, is an area with high circular posing tables and chairs, and, the now trademark Buzzworks gas fireplace inserted into the wall, this time surrounded by mirrors. At the near end and just behind you once you’ve entered is an alcove with its own table that can be reserved either for private dining or larger parties. Plain green/grey painted walls are made more interesting by the lampshades which are made from ambercoloured glass droplets. The bar stands in the same place as it always had, but has been completely rebuilt from new wooden bar top down to the wooden jigsaw bar front, peppered with mirrored tiles. The back bar is also built with mirrored shelves and some LED lighting. The bar stools are made from a heavy oak, upholstered in a mustard vinyl material, with a wooden parquet floor skirting the bar. A mushroom-coloured carpet with half circle patterns has been used elsewhere. The wall along which the booths sit contains a mixture of exposed brick and stone, and there are also wooden beams across the ceiling, and all are hangovers from the bar’s former life. Both dovetail neatly into the new green/grey painted walls, wallpaper etc. The booths are upholstered in dark green leather with a fern pattern embossed along the top and a shiny bottom that looks like it has a
plastic or vinyl covering. The rest of the free-standing wooden tables and chairs are heavy with quality, and the upholstery on the chairs is more of the same, plus some more velvety striped textures too. In amongst the exposed brick are shelves, some mirrored, with vases displayed, and there’s more vases just below the windows on the shelving at the back of the booths. Further in, and just before the narrow raised dining area is what looks like a dance floor, although I was assured it is not, on account of a cluster of huge glitter balls hanging from the ceiling. These stand out the most in the design, coupled with the large circular reflective brass metallic lampshades hanging above the booths, and other tables. And this kind of low-level lighting only contributes to the effect of the wallpaper.
The overall look and feel is one of quality, exacting standards and the principles of wine, food and cocktails, like in the entire Buzzworks portfolio.

Jason Caddy

Category: Bar & Pub, Features
Tags: Blair, Buzzworks, jason caddy, kilmarnock, longhouse