A bijoux jewel in a treasure trove of retailers

A jewel in Thame’s collection of treasured independent retailers, Pretty Like Pictures, and Robin its proprietor, are very much public property in our bustling Oxfordshire market town.

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Closed for several months through the pandemic, Pretty Like Pictures’ customers waited patiently, and have been arriving ever since armed with a bottleneck of artwork and treasured objects requiring display.

In conjunction, proprietor Robin was keen to progress with some fairly major works. Already armed with carefully considered plans drawn up by Last Interior Design, he turned to Barr Build for a solution to carrying out the project. His ask was for us to complete the work without closing the premises for any longer than absolutely necessary.

Over the past decade Robin has built a loyal and ever-expanding customer base – and, as we know from attempting to photograph around his working day, Pretty Like Pictures is very rarely customer free!

In fact, we started to think that there must be an army of elves working downstairs whilst Robin, in his inimitable calm and welcoming manner, guides a never-ending stream of customers through their mounting and framing choices.

As well as having a great eye for the perfect frame and mount, and the skill to precision manufacture each one, Robin also has an amazing flair for finding innovative ways to display and celebrate his customers’ treasured objects. Floating pieces of artwork using raised undermounts, or wiring objects to a flat base and employing used clarity glass to reduce reflection are just a couple of his little tricks!

Previous work for Barr Group has included the mounted display of vintage kitchen implements, a treasured old tool set and, for our clients at Byrnes Dental Lab, a display of dental instruments!

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Last Interior Design took a wholistic approach to the project – including structural changes and a fixtures and fittings redesign. Raising the ceiling, widening and changing the entrance door, and replacing and concealing the air con unit were fundamental to the project. These elements would need to be rapidly implemented by the Barr Build team – in order to minimise the time the shop was out of action. The lighting, fittings and fixtures redesign also took careful thought – in order to ensure changes could be implemented quickly and efficiently on the ground.

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“Just as raising the ceiling and opening up the windows were essential to the project, creating a considered lighting design was also key” says Rachele Bowley of Last Interior Design. “We used a combination of strip lights, spot lights and decorative lighting to enhance workspaces, maximise product displays and highlight hanging spaces.

“We needed to offer flexibility, so that when product displays were changed, the lighting direction and emphasis could change with it. We added magnetic cable lights, with bare globe bulbs, not just as a design feature but also for their versatility – as they can be repositioned very easily. One of the primary issues we faced was that the shop had very little natural light. In response we removed the block display units and replaced them with floating shelves supported by light metal frames – which allowed the natural light through. We also added track and spot lights to provide sufficient artificial light on darker days.”

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“The display shelves themselves needed to be light and simple. We went for light oak, finished in a clear Osmo oil so as not to fight with the rich riot of product shapes and colours on display. The narrow card display shelves, also in light oak, have integral grooves and a shallow upstand to easily keep cards in position.”

The Barr Build team completely stripped the shop, carried out the structural works and refit and had it ready for handover within three weeks. Barr Group Contracts Manager Alex Sutherland says “working with a very relaxed and positive client, to Last Interior Design’s well-thought-out scheme and to a rigorous schedule, we were able to carry out the works quickly and efficiently. Commercial works always demand the greatest consideration for the general public – both in terms of health and safety and regarding things like logistics and noise pollution.”

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We are pleased to say that Robin is now happily back in situ – ready for a busy bank holiday weekend full, no doubt, of exciting new commissions. The Barr Build team would like to thank him for trusting us with the reframing of his business and for letting us share his story.

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