Cafe Design at Home

Cafes, patisseries, bakeries, bistros, coffee houses, trattorias, these small scale establishments that sell and serve delicious food and desserts ring my bell, especially when their interior design is on point.  I eagerly anticipate the opening of a new local restaurant more for the interiors than the food.   Although, if the interiors rock, but the food does not, I sadly will not return.  No matter if the design is spare or over the top, I appreciate the attention to detail and overall ambiance of a well designed space.  Eateries are great places to gain design ideas for your home.

Be on the lookout for COLOR INSPIRATION.

Pink is the traditional color for patisserie decor and packaging.  Laduree, the Parisian tearoom and macaron institution, chose mint green for their packaging, with a sprinkling of pink.  Shades of green are good colors for kitchens and dining rooms.  Think romaine, granny smith, haricot vert, avocado (the inside, not 70’s “avocado”).

Laduree NYC

Soft blue, deep brown, and gray are showcased in this Viennese cafe.  The oversize illustrations of elaborate cakes in blue and white accentuate the imposing ceiling height.  Blue, not a stimulating color for the appetite and rare in restaurants,  works in a cafe where drinking is paramount and light bites are served.  A quiet, sophisticated color palette, probably found in a number of clothes closets.

The geometric laid floor provides a contemporary kick to the traditional interior and adds movement to the mostly boxy (paneling, art panels, upholstered lounge chairs) space.  Monica Meehan photo.

Black and white allows the food to take center stage.  Food served on white dishes sans adornment is preferred in restaurants.  The focus is on the food.

Tres chic.  Cojean, Paris
Black and white stripes are carried throughout Savor Patisserie’s interiors including their napkins and packaging.
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Oh, I’m sorry, did you want this one?

Red, the appetite stimulant.   A classic in French bistros.

Classic French bistro chairs.  Dark olive black walls counterbalance the vibrancy of the red chairs and serviettes.

Bold color combos evoke Mondrian in this breakfast room at the Hotel du Ministere in Paris.  Leather covered banquettes work wonderfully when space prohibits the use of a table and chairs.

Design by Agence Francois Champsaur.  Interior Design

Don’t forget to check out restrooms for ideas too.

Whimsical stripes of black and white penny round tiles delight.  I like grout color to match the tile color.  Red = drama.  Sconces on either side of the mirror provide the most flattering lighting.

Good lighting in restrooms is very necessary.  Not a fan of the trend to dark restrooms with barely any lighting.   In clubs, I guess it’s acceptable as inebriation keeps people from the truth.  At a restaurant, I must see if you can identity my last meal by my smile.


The earthy vibe in the space below is achieved through the use of differing wood finishes.  The addition of color would be too frenetic.  Usually, a room containing more than three wood species or stains is discouraged.   It’s hard to achieve cohesion when the eye has to take in various finishes plus whatever upholstery, window treatments, etc. are going on.  Even though this space has five woods present the design works since the wood is the focus, the walls white and other color restrained.

Interesting, curvilinear shaped furnishings.  Eye catching tile bar treatment in a Native American motif.  Studio Collective design, David Tsay photo.
Neutral color palette, loaded with texture.  Wood and brick add warmth, tile and iron add balance, scones and cookies add calories.  I want to be here now!


Love this wallpaper created by overlapping vintage advertising posters at Paul Bert bistro in Paris.  I’ve also seen this done with sheet music.
Have an unattractive corner or coat tree to hide?  A painted screen pulls double duty as art space and concealer.

A tad off the interior topic, but it does come from a bakery.  A bouquet of glorious gluten for that special day.  Spectacular creation by bakery Poilane.  Congratulations Clotilde!

A bridal bouquet of bread.  Poilane Bakery for Clotilde Dusoulier


Differing light fixtures should be carefully considered when hung in close proximity.  When you hang pendant lights over a kitchen island near a table with another fixture make sure they relate.

Lighting that relates through shape, color and woven design.  Material mix of metal and natural makes it interesting too.
Different shapes, same finish.  Tom Dixon for DWR or similar.


Adjustable, wine storage that doesn’t take up too much room and can be placed higher up on the wall wins.  Note the encaustic patchwork tile and bold red ceiling.


Wine tasting rooms also provide clever design ideas.

Lost Draw Cellars, Fredericksburg, Texas


In 2002, Victoria magazine published their Entrepreneurs issue featuring Rebecca Rather’s bakery in Fredericksburg, Texas.   I admired Ms. Rather’s story and loved the warm and rustic interiors of her bakery.  When I had the opportunity to visit years later I sought out Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe and found she had closed the previous year.  So bummed!   Rather is the author of three awesome cookbooks, so at least I have them.

Woven baskets, copper pots, blackboards, metal bistro chairs, marble topped servers, worn pine tables, lavender and white dinnerware evoke the French Country look.

Rather Sweet Bakery, Fredericksburg, Texas

Elements of French country and bistro design are masterfully incorporated into a home kitchen by Peri Wolfman and Charley Gold.   A fantastic, antique case piece serves as the island.  An antique brass light fixture, worn wooden beams, bead board and copper pots add warmth and offset the graphic black base cabinets, backsplash, hood and white stoneware.  A wash of Provence blue on the island completes the look.  Hard to believe this kitchen is in a NYC loft.



Plants and greenery bring life to interiors.  Succulents require little attention making them perfect for the urban gardener.  Re-purpose decorative tin containers to hold plants in their pots.

I have a thing for espresso machines.  This one is a beauty.
I told you.  Here is a turquoise one.  Isn’t it handsome?

Time for my espresso break…ciao

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  1. Hmm, what cafe should I choose first? They are all so inviting. But, I love the red chairs at the French bistro and they look comfortable too! Hope the food is good.
    I also love the kitchen in the loft in NY. How interesting the way people incorporate the things they love into spaces creating a beautiful and homey look.

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