Christel and Alex Barron-Hough are behind STIL salon in London’s Notting Hill… but are now embarking on salon number two in Chelsea. Follow that journey exclusively with the couple… Part four: when the wheels came off…
I don’t know where to start this latest salon update; but it can be summarised by saying that our biggest fear was realised with a major blow to progress on our second STIL site.
Sadly, the original team of contractors that had worked with us on the basement excavation and structural work didn’t have the attention to detail required for the final fix and finish. We had started to notice that elements weren’t 100 per cent which caused a lot of tension. Once this happened we saw the rate of work drop significantly, and it became an increasingly unpleasant environment for us all, including our Architect Max, Christel and I.
We had a hard decision to make and parted ways with our original contractors. This meant bringing in an entirely new team of electricians, stone masons, floor fitters, plasterers, glaziers, decorators… the list goes on! This wasn’t a pleasant process and meant we needed to find a new team that could start work immediately and that we could trust. Thankfully, we found a brilliant team that take real pride in their work and have a passion for what they are helping us to create.
Some big lessons have been learned along the way: buy cheap by twice, measure twice cut once, if it’s too good to be true it’s too good to be true. All of the clichés have been used on this journey! However, to move on with the project we had to pick ourselves up, put our heads down and tackle the mess we were in head-on.
With this in mind, I made the decision to be on-site all day, every day, to try and get the salon back on track. I was therefore witness to the new contractors uncovering a catalogue of errors every day that needed rectifying. This resulted not just financial pressures but mental anguish.
To wake up every morning and keep going has been incredibly hard. We questioned multiple times whether it was all worth it… obviously the answer is YES! But, at the same time sometimes you just can’t see the wood for the trees.
I suppose all the years I have spent as a producer did give me some experience in trying to get the wheels back on, but obviously this is a different ball game where I had to learn fast, roll my sleeves up and get dirty!
I am pleased to say that we are really close to completion now. The new team have been amazing and really pulled together to get us to where we need to be. Watch this space!