House renovation with Richard Robinson, founder of Old Spike Roastery
In October 2019, Richard Robinson, founder of Old Spike Roastery in Peckham, and his wife Ellie, decided to buy and renovate their first home in Catford, London. Having grown up in South London, it was the familiarity and comfort of the area as well as the close proximity to the Old Spike café and roastery that caught Richards eye. Although the house felt dark and locked, they saw the opportunity the house presented to really be made into something beautiful and personal to them.
After the house purchase was complete, Richard and Ellie, completely stripped away the original interiors, and with the help of Tuesday Design Studio, replaced them with linear shapes and calm colours to create a functional, open and aesthetically pleasing space. For Richard, the renovation work was the ideal outlet for his creativity and energy, but is now the perfect space to return to and enjoy after a hard days work across the three social enterprises he has founded.
‘We’ve planted over 750,000 trees to date’ Richard said as we sat down in the dining area on the ground floor of the house, a space that connects the kitchen and the lounge in one impressive sweeping motion. These trees were planted through another of Richard’s brilliant ventures, ‘Serious Tissues’ which provides fully recycled, carbon neutral, toilet paper and plants a tree for every roll sold.
‘I need to be close to Peckham where I do the majority of my work, and there are some really lovely parks nearby. I really want to open a café around here too! There’s a great pub up the road called the Perry Hill pub, which wasn’t always as nice as it is now, which I think is representative of a lot going on here, a lot of good change.’
‘We bought the house in October 2019, and started working on the house the following January. We actually finished the work in June the same year, so we were lucky that the process wasn’t too lengthy. I also really enjoyed doing the work, I don’t mind the stress, I really like the process and seeing the final version come together. The most stressful part was peeling back the original interiors and seeing what needed to be done structurally, but I knew it had the bones of a great family home. After that, it was just focussing on the design which was really fun’.
‘The propriety was making the downstairs as open as possible, so that the kids can run around. We kept three bedrooms upstairs but squeezed in another shower room for practicality. It’s designed for a family, and we wanted to create something that made living as easy as possible. I now really love being in the kitchen cooking, and being able to look right the way through to the front of the house to see what the kids are up to.’
‘I love the design process, but the challenge is being clever about where to spend money, and where to be more creative with the detailing. We bought our cupboards from Ikea, but then had a counter top custom made, so the space really feels distinctive but overall was really cost effective. The panelling we spent a little more on, which I think was worth it to make something really beautiful, that really pleasantly lines the walls.’
‘Even over lockdown I didn’t work from home. We had to be physically on site to roast the coffee, but I do really value the separation between work and home life. Home is for family, I don’t need to work here, even though I could because it is such a nice space. But I don’t ever really switch off, so I was never looking for the type of space to really relax in after work. I’m always excited about things, ideas, and I’m lucky in that I love my job and don’t find it a drag going into the office or to our site.’
‘Sundays here are really nice, because I don’t dread Mondays. The day revolves around the kids, going to the park and then coming home to warmth and a good old Sunday roast. We love having friends and family over, and the space really allows us to enjoy making time for those connections.’
Old Spike Roastery is the UK’s first speciality coffee roastery to operate as a social enterprise. Their coffee is outstanding and from the first sip you can tell it’s made with love, but Old Spike also uses a large portion of its profits to support those experiencing homelessness by offering them training and employment. In 2021 alone, they trained 18 people that were previously experiencing homelessness, 9 of which went onto continuous employment. ‘The future of business really is around social conscience, it’s about not being greedy, and recognising that you are in a unique position to help others’.
In a mirrored mission, Bonnington Square is the UK’s first estate agency to sponsor a bed for a person experiencing homelessness, for every home sold through the agency. It seemed fitting to come together with Richard to talk about how much future businesses should be doing to help societal problems such as the growing problem of homelessness in the UK. Our mission to stop and reverse this growth is completely aligned, and it’s our hope that more businesses that are able to do so, can help us to combat issues that shouldn’t be gripping society as tightly as they are today.