Presented with a project, potentially involving both cosmetic and structural work, I was delighted to undertake refurbishment work on The Rialto in Eyemouth, a somewhat tired coffee shop, which had recently been taken over by new owners.
The owners made the approach to Decodence with a generic brief, prior to rebranding and re-launch later in the year. The space was outdated and required a complete modernization to reflect their personal taste and appeal to the waiting market.
With a tight budget, I was aware from the inception of the project that reclaim, re-use and recycle would be key themes in the ongoing works! Analysing existing elements that could be retained, I derived at two initial concepts of ‘French Country’ and ‘Industrial’. The retained elements could relatively easily become the backbone of both themes, the latter being very on trend, suited to the owners’ personalities and a more feasible project, given the requirement to salvage as many materials as possible. Additionally, the theme would give the café a leading edge over competitors locally and, offering such a vast contrast, attract and encourage a noticeable response.
A free reign to come up with both inventive and workable design solutions is every designer’s dream but the time constraints were going to dictate a shorter working schedule than desired – the café had to open after the Christmas holidays!
An initial consultation established the major issues we had to overcome in the new design; the coffee bar would require repositioning to a more central point, where it would be visible on entry, and form the focal point for the establishment. A central staircase posed a few issues with regards size and space and the lovely bay windows to the front of the property were plagued by condensation, meaning that the café’s visual pull was seriously compromised; all challenges which were relatively simple to overcome.
Furthermore, there were key features, which would require preservation, including attrractive ceiling mouldings and other architectural components, which hinted at the building’s history and were items I was keen to retain and incorporate into the new design.
The prime objective of maximum impact with minimal investment to the fore, the mission began to explore the aspects, which, could be not only retained but ultimately benefit, the project. The wall colour could be carried forward into the new styling and formed a good base point, so we began with designing and relocating the coffee bar, making it a central attraction and focus – a stage from where the baristas would perform, also allowing for better flow and product display.
Any condensation issues were very simply rectified by adding more ventilation. New built-in window seats re-decorating and cushions turned the attractive bays into much needed additional seating. The external result was immediately more attractive and afforded a better view from the main street in which the café sits.
An industrial styling was undertaken in the form of brick wallpaper, rustic timber and wire mesh, softened by practical and comfortable cushions and decoration. The harsh and bland plaster of the stairway was replaced with mesh, allowing light to flood through to the back area of the coffee shop, opening up the space, so customers could immediately appreciate the size and layout upon entering.
Tables were reconditioned to match the new interior and the back café area was draped with unique, rich velvet upholstery, making a warm and welcoming neuk. The previously covered fireplace was exposed and additional seating and sociable areas were created with clever use of furniture and lighting.
To give a further impression of space and depth, the flooring was replaced with one covering, running the length of the building, offering a harmony and cohesion between the two spaces.
The end result…
The finished project at The Rialto has resulted in a warm, welcoming coffee shop with a modern vibe. Exceptional kerb appeal draws customers from the busy street and a unified interior encourages longer stays and a more sociable environment.
Feedback has been exceptional from the owners and their now loyal clientele. The Rialto has once again become a meeting place for locals and tourists alike, where the interior matches the owner’s passion for style and quality.