Witley Jones recently helped The Downs Malvern to transform two Common Rooms into inviting spaces that their students now love using through bespoke Common Room Furniture.
The Downs Malvern is a vibrant day, weekly and full boarding co-educational prep school, part of The Malvern College Family of Schools situated on the edge of the Malvern Hills.
After joining the school, Housemaster John Warlow decided a change would be welcome and wanted to involve the students in the process of creating common room spaces, in which they could really enjoy their down time – to relax and socialise during their evenings and weekends.
"Witley Jones provided a first class service from start to finish in providing us with two very special common rooms. The spaces we had were great – two large rooms with lots of windows – but we were keen to modernise the look and develop the functionality of the spaces." John Warlow, Housemaster, The Downs Malvern
The first common room included a games and TV area and the second required areas for reading, IT, board games and crafts, which also incorporated a kitchenette and dining area.
Common Room Ideas
We began this project by visiting to measure and discussed the concept for the two spaces. Following a conversation with Housemaster John and his colleagues, it was clear to see that the involvement of students was going to be a key feature throughout the design process, which we embraced.
As well as introducing a vibrant new look and atmosphere, making the rooms an inviting and enjoyable space for students – and uniquely tailored by them – was a key consideration from the beginning.
Whilst we had unique requirements for each room, the furniture needed to align in style and the injection of colour was integral to the project, from the choice of door colour to the fabric selected for stools and seating.
“We needed to provide quite a broad spectrum of furniture for the project – bookcases, board game storage, lockers, a lockable tuck fridge unit, soft seating, a TV unit, IT benching, corridor shoe storage and a mobile phone charging unit! This made the whole process really enjoyable and allowed us to demonstrate our manufacturing flexibility” – a comment from Dave Manser, our Business Development Manager.
It was also clear that we needed to provide adequate space within each common room.With it being feasible for all students to be within both rooms at the same time during evenings and weekends, the furniture needed to be highly functional whilst maximising space and storage.
We also needed to ensure that the students’ regular pool, table football and table tennis games could continue, so plans were made with these important recreational activities in mind.
Design and Manufacture of Furniture
When measuring the rooms ahead of design and manufacture, we discussed with Housemaster John his idea for injecting some life and colour into the rooms through the furniture, seating and blinds.
It was decided that a white gloss finish to all the furniture carcases would be a good first step and then we could look to inject colour through things such as the locker doors, soft seating materials, dining stools and chairs.
To provide continuity across the two spaces, the colours selected needed to marry up with one another and the final colours chosen were green, yellow, blue with the neutral white gloss and one or two greys to help tie things together.
Due to the measurements and dimensions of the room, it also highlighted the need for some particularly bespoke items. Firstly, the bookcases and lockers needed to be a certain height and scribed around the existing perimeter heating pipes.
We also needed to cater for specificly-sized shoe storage units, located throughout the house along various corridors; one of which included a low-level seat pad where students could sit to put on and take off their shoes.
The furniture we created also included a mobile phone charging unit. Due to the large number of students that could use the space at any one time, the unit needed to cater for a minimum of 30 mobile phones being left to charge.
We designed each pigeonhole with a USB charging port and ensured it was vented to prevent overheating and damage to the devices. The unit itself was then all wired together at our manufacturing base, vented and made lockable, providing the students with peace of mind that they could leave their devices to charge and they would be secure. The school’s electrician then hardwired the unit on our arrival, to ensure adequate power supply for effective charging.