Design Focus: Nick’s

What was an inconspicuous exterior to Nick’s on Glasgow’s Hyndland Road now pops to passers-by thanks to an explosion of foliage and fairy lights that formed the tip of a £250k refurbishment by new owner Oli Norman, of itison, that’s rung in the changes both outside and in.

Any Nick’s veterans out there that pay the place a daytime visit will perhaps notice straight away the amount of daylight streaming in compared with what used to be a space that was poorly served by natural light, while the old red neon sign that used to hang above the door and bathe the place in its red hue has also now been moved to a wall on the mezzanine.

The red light in the ground floor window is also no more, and once inside these big changes to the look and feel continue. Calder and Tate Signs were responsible for the signage, while designers Surface-ID have made the interior a lot more colourful.

Nicola Wilkinson, Head of Operations for itison, took some time out of her busy day (and it was busy for a weekday afternoon) to kindly show me around the place and she started by telling me about the structural changes that had to be made.

She said, “We added a new staircase to the mezzanine (on the left-hand-side as you enter) as well as moving the bar 45 degrees so that it now faces you as soon as you enter rather than facing the wall on the right-hand-side (as you enter).

“The addition of the new staircase has meant that staff and customers no longer must trail the entire length of the place, and what was the bar, to get up the back stairs, which we’ve kept incidentally. In addition to the new staircase we also have new multicoloured glass balustrades that really brighten up the place. The feedback we’ve been getting from customers has been absolutely phenomenal, which means a lot, as Nick’s is a place that many people hold close to their hearts and are emotionally invested in.”

She continued, “The old wine racks and storage area above the old bar are also no more, hence all the extra light streaming in through the back windows. The exposed stone wall downstairs used to be panelled over, and we took the wood and reused it as panelling on the front of the bar as well as to create some new tables, so the whole refurbishment has also been an environmentally friendly one, which we’re proud of.”

And speaking of the bar, most of the old bar has been retained with a few new tweaks and additions. It’s made up from a wooden bar top and back bar constructed from more wood and metal, plus it now also boasts a large screen built into the shelving gantry.

The shelves contain bottles of spirits and plants, as well as various other nick-nacks, and above the bar hang big globe lights that are also new additions. Another big change on the ground floor is the fixed seating in the bay window, which used to house a simple shelf for drinks and a smattering of tools.

It’s been constructed to fit the bay perfectly, and it is topped off with some orange leather seating that is set off perfectly next to a newly painted turquoise window frame, plus there is also a big wicker pendant light hanging above it.

Next to this area, along the side wall, below another big screen, is a row of fixed seating and wooden tables that are against a newly exposed brick wall. The bricks have been treated to a white paint job and this is represents a further brightening enhancement to the interior of Nick’s.

Opposite the bar is a fixed seat in bold blue leather which stands out for that very reason. Beyond the bar is an area that leads down to the kitchen as well as up to the mezzanine and into what is sometimes used as a breakout area or party space. This area retains one of the old wine racks, has more of that exposed white-painted brick and a touch of the industrial thanks to an exposed metal ceiling pipe.

Moving up the mezzanine via the original back stairs, the walls on this floor are all exposed stone and this is also the new home of that neon sign I mentioned earlier. The fact that it’s caged is another nod to that industrial theme that’s creeping in at this part of Nick’s. The exposed stone walls in this back area of the mezzanine are also covered in lots of multicoloured chalk doodles that should be a talking point among its customers.

The furniture in this area, in fact throughout the whole of the mezzanine which is made up of what is effectively another area towards the front of the space, is a mixture of orangey brown leather upholstered booths and stand alone brown leather chairs paired with wooden tables.

This area segues into the front part of the mezzanine, yet it can also be partitioned off for private events and parties thanks to a sliding door that is decorated with lots of strands of different coloured string. As well as brightening the place up a great deal and the addition of a more extensive colour palette, Nick’s has had a new lease of life with just the right amount of nods to its former incarnation for there to be continuity and enough familiarity to keep its legion of west end devotees happy.

Jason Caddy

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