Sunday, April 20, 2008

Somebody needs a makeover.

As some may remember, I have a job working at a tiny cafe inside our local cinema. I work there one night a week and basically, it's my alone time. We have virtually no customers. I've spent many evenings at the cafe imagining how it could be different and what I'd change if I had a say in things.

Well, I'm so pleased to say that my ponderings will soon be put to use because the owner has decided to revamp the place and has given me the opportunity to plan the new design. I'm nervous and excited about this responsibility and I've been spending lots of time mulling over fabric patterns and wall color options. The above pictures are how the cafe looks now. It is painted a dark dusty sage with darker plum and there is a black ceiling. Needless to say, I hope to add lots of brightness to the room. I think the brick floor is a neat detail that I'd like to play off of and I've already been given permission to destroy the big glass case with fluorescent lighting. Smash city!

It is a huge challenge to plan a whole new space (and menu!) when the owner has already put so much into it. His wife spent many hours adding loving touches to the decor; she made the curtains and seat cushions and everything. So, it is difficult to remove personal feelings when being critical about the current design. I think that's my biggest hurdle with this mission.

Still, there is a lot to be excited about and no matter if I have to concede to things I strongly dislike (for example, my boss would prefer to keep the ceiling black) it will still be improving and I get the chance to actually use some of the information I've absorbed from watching years of HGTV and reading design magazines and blogs.

I'm happy and optimistic about this and it is great that a job that I took pretty much solely so I wouldn't have to be alone on Friday nights (Justin works in the main part of the theater) turned into something I can be proud of. I'll reserve pride until I see how it all turns out though.

Ideas, suggestions, hints and tips are more than welcome! Pretty please designer friends?


Anonymous said...

i'm excited to see more updates on this! It's such a cute space...I'd keep the colors bright and fresh or coffee like. Good luck!!! It looks like fun though:D

I'm also a little bit of a fan of the random glass case. Maybe it could be converted into a table or something??? Back of couch?

eric hosford said...

hello elise,
yes, i did go to monserrat, but it was for only 2 years, and that was almost 3 years ago. (and yes i did and do play the harmonica for fun), i think i remember you, but its hard to say, im bad with names and it was a while ago.
anyways, thank you! its nice to see people enjoying my work. i also enjoyed your bunny thank you cards (as i also have to bunnies back home). and i would love to see you a print of the godzilla print for your friend, how much would you want to spend? you can just email me at thanks again and keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

ooh, fun project and i look forward to reading about it as you progress.

With no disrespect to your employers, but that purple seems bleak and depressing. It's really no wonder it's empty. Start with color and go from there.

Hey Harriet said...

Oh my gosh what an amazing & fun opportunity you've been given! I hope you post updates of the progress. I'd love to see a step-by-step transformation! How exciting for you :)

Michelle Engel Bencsko said...

I salivate over project like this. What a great opportunity! Have you considered a theme? Modern and sparse, cozy nook, French bistro (for example). Once you've settled on a theme, scour mags and books for anything that fits the theme and appeals to you. It'll start falling into place once you find the perfect fabric, chair or coffee mug, you know? You need an inspiration element.

Jess (aka LittleBunny) said...

That is such an awesome project to have!
It's hard to say what to do with it, maybe just make it feel like home. A comfy cafe will always suck people in! oh and no pastels!! eek.

Anonymous said...

I'd think twice about "adding a lot of color" if by that you mean bright colors. (I agree with you that this needs a totally new palette.) Personally, I like soothing colors for a cafe. (Think browns.) Definitely warm colors, though. No blues, no pastels and no dusty anything! A black ceiling is not a bad thing. It helps bring down the ceiling if you have a high one, which gives the place a cozier feel.

A rug would really help anchor the couch area, as would a coffee table in front of the couch. (Maybe move the bench/chest/coffee table thing you have next to the couch?) A anchor is important in a room with a lot furniture -- otherwise, all those tables and chairs seem to be floating around and looking temporary and scattered. Speaking of tables and chairs -- resist the urge to paint them different colors. Keeping them all one color will provide some unity, especially since you have different kinds.

Is that a blackboard I see? I'd keep it. My local bar has big blackboards in the booths and they have an artist do a new drawing every month or so. Amazing, nobody ever erases them because the artwork is so nice!

Good luck and have fun!

Anonymous said...

Ah, I see from the last photo that the low chest thing already is in front of the OTHER couch. Silly me. You could get another coffee table for the first couch or get bigger coffee tables for both. (Thrift some kitchen tables and saw the legs off) Then use the chest as a bench facing one couch with a coffee table in between. (Good for a big group.)

Also, since counters as so expensive, you might consider reusing the glass case as one. Maybe put a wooden top on it. You can take out the shelves if you don't want it to look like a display case.

Elise of Argyle Whale said...

Thanks so much for your thoughtful design tips!

Unknown said...

Elise this is a really great space! For some reason it kind of reminds me of The Facts of Life but I can't put my finger on why :) Are you leaving the chalk board? That is a cool piece if you do get kids at all. Well let me know if you need a faux finisher, I am just west of Boston :~) Good luck with it and HAVE FUN with demo!!
~ Jenn