Category: Tips and Advice

Did you know we do metalwork?

Over the course of projects we have successfully completed over the years, most of our clients have incorporated some form of metalwork into their design ideas. Fortunately, here at GS Contracts we offer a complete turn-key solution, meaning we are able to assist with turning your metalwork ideas into a reality.

The initial design proposals and drawings are passed on from designers to our in-house drawing team here at GS Contracts. Our skilled team are then able to begin producing the high-quality technical drawings, which are then sent off to be manufactured by our fully trusted and experienced supply chain. With full control over the process, once fabricated we are ready to begin installation on site.

Below are a few examples of the metalwork features and displays we have provided on some our projects, giving an insight into what we are able to offer and deliver.

ROVI Ottolenghi

Ottolenghi Metalwork

For the Mediterranean restaurant ROVI, we produced the technical drawings for a large metal gantry to be fabricated. Suspended from the ceiling the Gantry was installed and fitted with glass racks, it makes a convenient space for the stems of glasses to be hung from. The well-considered design plan of the metalwork fabricates the footprint of the bar area, providing a practical work solution for staff.

Click here to find out more from the full, finished project.

Rovi Ottolenghi Restaurant Interior
Rovi Ottolenghi Restaurant Refurbishment

Avenue Bistro

Similar to the Rovi Ottolenghi metalwork that we supplied and fitted; we composed the working technical drawings for Avenue Bistro’s over-bar gantry. The steel bar gantry was installed along with welded round wire glass racks, a perfect practical storage solution for our client.

Seven Layer

Another project we provided metalwork for was one of our most recent retail fit outs, Seven Layer. We delivered hanging rails to our client which were cut with the “7L” branding logo and fitted around the perimeter of the store. The rails were fabricated and installed to provide a unique storage system for their luxury menswear apparel.

Seven Layer Metalwork
Seven Layer Metalwork

Solus Ceramics

We have worked with many clients on a range of projects with unique metalwork in their design ideas and proposals. We fitted this large steel feature staircase for the two-floor Solus Ceramics Showroom in Clerkenwell back in 2018, it is a great example of the diversity of metalwork we are able to offer and what can be achieved.

Check out some of the other metal and joinery work for this project here.

Solus Ceramics metalwork staircase

We love being able to provide such high-quality metalwork products and features for our valued clients here at GS Contracts and along with the joinery services that we are able to offer, we are always so thrilled with finished results.

Can our team help you? Give us a call or drop us a line and make our team your team.

22 January 2021 by dom_admin 0 Comments

Does your restaurant need a refresh?

Creating a successful eatery is about much more than dreaming up a five-star menu.

Think ambiance, comfort, lighting, how the space flows – and importantly the quality of the restrooms!

With a new year comes a time for reflecting on where you are and looking at how you can improve in the future, and GS Contracts is here to help.

While it is still a worrying time for the hospitality industry, some restaurateurs are taking this enforced pause on everyday life to rethink their space so they can come back better than ever once some sort of normality returns.

In fact, some of our customers hadn’t even got to experience what normal is like before needing to implement change.

Take for example The Athenian, a Greek street-food outlet which was a couple of weeks off opening its brand-new flagship restaurant within the arches of London Bridge station when the first national lockdown hit.

With the new reality of restricted numbers and social distancing, plans were redrawn to make sure customers could be served safely. We helped to install a contact free self-check-out system on iPads along with all the safety features necessary for our current times, including floor markings, dividing screens and distanced seating.

While The Athenian was pushed to make changes due to the pandemic, other well-established clients have had the benefit of time to identify tweaks to their set up which will create a better customer experience.

Tombo Cafe, an independent chain of three family-run Japanese cafes across London, did exactly that. Back in 2009 we fitted out the first Tombo in South Kensington, and during the first national lockdown we returned to do a redesign and refresh of the space.

Key to the project was increasing the space available for customers and improving the flow throughout the café. As well as moving some preparation elements to the back of house we were also able to reduce the counter size from around 70% of the front area to just 40% which provided much more space for customers, while still giving staff the work area they need.

At the same time, we stripped the unit, ripping out and replacing all plumbing and wiring, and completed the new design, with new flooring, new countertops and fresh decoration throughout offering a total refresh in just ten days!

Sometimes we are blown away by the creative solutions that designers come up with to transform little used spaces and help them stand out from the crowd – and we were delighted to work on one such example at Bombay Bustle.

With the design vision from the talented team at Fabled, our job was to create a new subterranean bar and dessert area in the basement of the restaurant, which could also be used for parties and events.

The result is truly spectacular with pale pink plaster walls, brilliant-cut glass screens, deep burgundy leather upholstery and a timber panelled ceiling. On top of this we also managed to manufacture and install our first ever DJ booth! Best of all we completed the fit out in just two weeks, showing just what can be achieved in a short time with minimal disruption.

If you’re looking to make changes to your café, deli, shop or restaurant then contact us. Give us a call on 01206 793053.

samples of wooden furniture
26 November 2020 by dom_admin 0 Comments

Why you should consider using Corian

If you are looking to add unique style to your home, office or reception area then Corian could be just the thing for you.

This man-made solid surface is traditionally used for countertops. But at GS Contracts we are masters of Corian and understand that pretty much the only limit to how it can be used is your imagination!

Read on to find out more about this amazing material.

A seamless appearance

Fluid lines are what make Corian such a joy to work with. It can be used to create large shapes with no visible joins which means you can let your imagination run wild when it comes to design.

Endless choice

Corian comes in literally hundreds of finishes, colours and effects so there is bound to be one which fits your design goals.

Made from a mixture of resin, minerals and colourants, the dazzling array of hues ranges from Hot red to Mint Ice with many subtler options in between. Greys, whites and Anthracite black provide great neutrals, and there are options which mimic natural materials such as mahogany and weathered concrete.

And it’s not just shaping Corian that’s seamless – the colour and pattern is consistent throughout the product too, so you won’t end up with patches that jar because they are slightly different in appearance.

It can be shaped and curved

You can curve and shape Corian to fit your space and make a real statement. In a recent project we were commissioned to create a stunning reception desk which curved up and around the walls and ceiling, adding a real wow factor when clients enter the building.

Add a touch of luxury

Corian is great when used in the home, too. Although it is at the higher end in terms of pricing, its durability makes it a great investment, plus it’s easy to keep clean. Countertops, backsplashes, integral sinks, feature walls, shower trays, warm to the touch flooring, dining surfaces – the options are endless.


The versatility of Corian makes it easy to leave a lasting impression with your customers or in your home. Think curving reception desks in unusual organic shapes, bold and striking waiter stations in restaurants or even small decorative items that make your space unique. Corian can be shaped to meet your needs.

Take the plunge

So now you know more about the wonders of Corian, get in touch to discuss how we can help you to incorporate it into your next project! Give us a call on 01206 793053.

18 November 2020 by dom_admin 0 Comments

5 Things to Consider When Fitting-Out Your Café

Owning a coffee shop is a popular life-goal but there’s more to a successful café than a good latte – the design and layout of your space is paramount to its success. Of course, this job is usually assigned to architects and designers, however your choice of shop fitters is also a decision that will be fundamental to the outcome of your fit-out.

GS Contracts has spent many years designing, fitting out and refurbishing coffee bars and cafes. As experienced shop fitters we can advise you on everything from costs to queue management, product placement to planning permissions, in a way that will allow you to avoid pitfalls, maximise your space and supersize your profits!

Here are the five most common issues we’ve come across that need every café owner’s consideration:

1. Budget

Be realistic! You need to take into account the cost of the premises; running costs from day one (you won’t be able to start a fit-out without electricity, for example!); professional fees- your architect, designer, labour; staff and any training they need; the cost of furniture, the all-important commercial equipment; ceramics and cutlery; branding; permits; licences… the list is long, so make sure you’ve covered all bases. It’s important that your budget is created with your design in mind and vice versa – how many covers will you need to do a day to break even and how many tables will you need to accommodate in your space to make that possible? If you don’t know where to start, let us help with costings and estimates to make sure you’re working within the confines of your finances.

2. Location, location, location!

Of course, you must pick a part of town that is busy enough to provide the footfall a café needs to be viable, but you also need to pick a premises that’s suitable – for example, does it have a power supply and power points in the right places? Can you install extractors? (Whilst the smell of coffee can be delicious, air must be circulated in a hot, working environment). Does the site have the permissions you’ll need to run it as a café, and if not, how easy will that change of use be to obtain? Then there are buildings with listed status or owned by public sector landlords – any of these things can cause issues further down the line if not factored in from the beginning. Luckily, with GS Contracts on board many of the headaches will be avoided or eased, because we’ve built up our expertise in exactly this over the years.

3. Design

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of any café’s design is the flow of the layout. It’s important to put yourself in the shoes of both employee and customer – does the barista have enough space to work methodically and get to the things he/she will need? Can your waiting staff get quickly across the room and access all areas with trays in hand? Will customers immediately understand how to queue and order and is there sufficient space for waiting for drinks without getting in each other’s way? Are there enough tables and seats? Have you got sufficient storage? With a custom joinery service like ours we can easily add bespoke fixtures, custom-made shelving and things like dropped ceilings so you can add heating and cooling features out of sight, so talk to us to find out what you can factor into your design to make the most of the space you have.

4. Decoration

Does the style of café you plan to open fit well within the area you’ve chosen? For example, areas like Shoreditch in East London have a quirky feel where art and individuality can take centre place, whereas coffee shops in the City of London tend to be simple, sleek affairs. A holistic approach to the decoration of your café will mean you think consistently about the storefront, signage, furniture, flooring, lighting and even colour schemes: Blues in particular have been found to curb appetite while reds can promote hunger. Perhaps not surprisingly, greens are associated with health and fresh nutrition and clashing colours are more likely to cause people to feel unsettled and either order takeaway or eat and leave fast. If you’re aiming for a relaxing, welcoming atmosphere, then calming, complimentary colour schemes work best.

5. Choosing the right team

Over the years GS Contracts has nurtured relationships with some outstanding designers and can recommend someone perfect for your venture. Our own team is made up of exceptional project managers and craftspeople who will become a key part of your success. Make our team your team. Give us a ring today.

Caught in Red Tape
18 September 2020 by dom_admin 0 Comments

Requirements, Regulations and Red Tape

Health and safety regulations, landlord requirements, permissions, permits and consents can all give clients a real headache: Every project encounters this type of red tape, and some are positively dripping in it! Luckily, here at GS Contracts we are not only skilled craftsmen and expert project managers, but also dab hands at cutting through the paperwork which often encumbers projects in the beginning stages, and sometimes hampers progress on site too.

Before We Begin

Over the years we have developed checklists and amassed know-how that allows us to keep one step ahead of the game when it comes to bureaucracy and compliance. Retail units, for example, are usually provided as a shell and core (e.g. breeze block walls, unscreeded floor and capped off services). This has the advantage of allowing the retailer to be fully responsible for the unit fit out (e.g. floor and wall surfaces, lighting, and on occasion, the frontage to the unit) but also means there is a whole shopping list of things that need to be checked before fit-out can even start.

Have You Thought About…?

Not to worry – we can guide any client through the minefield of requirements: Does the property have a basement? Then there will probably be weight restrictions to work around. Was the unit built before 2000? Then chances are you’ll need an asbestos report. Is there a sprinkler system? If not, is one required? Planning external seating? There’ll be permissions required for that. In a built-up area? There may be specific noise restrictions to take into account. What about delivery access and storing materials? Almost ready to open to the public – have you had a fire risk assessment done and do you have a COVID plan in place?

Tricky Locations & Landlords

For certain properties there is even more to think about – listed buildings immediately spring to mind, with their myriad of restrictions and covenants. But sometimes it’s the location or landlord which adds a layer of complexity: For example, we recently worked on the fit-out of The Athenian in London Bridge station: Our project manager attended a dedicated course with Network Rail which enabled him to run special inductions for sub-contractors, including information about measures intended to combat terrorism. On this project hourly checks were performed by station staff, doors had to be kept open at all times to prevent suspicious packages or bags being stashed away in a locked space and fire alarm systems had to be deactivated and reactivated every day to prevent an accidental evacuation of the entire station!

In addition, there were rules in place to prevent drilling into brickwork – special resin fittings had to be used and an external company brought in to run pull tests to ensure the intended loads would be safe to hang – and the originally proposed sliding doors were deemed unacceptable and had to be changed. With the advent of COVID, Network Rail were also conducting spot checks to ensure no more than the allowed number of operatives were on site at any one time and all staff had their temperatures taken every morning and evening.

Any work had to go through a 4-stage process for approval, including design, mechanical and ventilation, health and safety and construction drawings. At all these stages we liaised closely with the clients’ project manager and everything was uploaded to a portal for approval by Network Rail.

We’ve Got Your Back

We understand that jumping through red tape hoops can feel overwhelming, especially for inexperienced clients or those taking on a new type of project, but with GS Contracts you can rest assured we’ll have everything covered. Let us save you from a migraine or two and give us a ring to see how our team can help.