Decorating the French-style café of your dreams

I have taken action on a lifelong dream and bought a tiny café in the heart of my village. The food I will be serving is French bistro cuisine. The cafe will be open during the day for brunch, lunch and afternoon tea. The café is mediumsized with about twelve tables and a glass display cabinet to showcase pastries and scones. I have been watching Neville’s Doorstep Challenge and really admire your creativity and hope you can give me some ideas and suggestions for creating a warm and welcoming café that the locals will fall in love with!

I have taken action on a lifelong dream and bought a tiny café in the heart of my village. The food I will be serving is French bistro cuisine. The cafe will be open during the day for brunch, lunch and afternoon tea. The café is mediumsized with about twelve tables and a glass display cabinet to showcase pastries and scones. I have been watching Neville’s Doorstep Challenge and really admire your creativity and hope you can give me some ideas and suggestions for creating a warm and welcoming café that the locals will fall in love with!

Firstly congratulations! It sounds like an amazing venture and I am sure because of your passion it to be a fantastic success! The design of the space is incredibly important as it says a lot about the food you will be serving along with the atmosphere you would like your guests to experience.

I absolutely love French bistro-style food and there are many colour schemes that will compliment food on your menu and achieve the desired ambience. Since the café will be open during the day I would definitely keep the space light and airy. The French are incredibly chic and love simple but elegant design, which is the look I think you should be working towards. The colours I would recommend are off-whites or creams and light duck-egg blues with splashes of crimson reds.

For instance, you could paint the feature wall behind the glass display table in a beautiful crisp blue like Palest Blue shade from Crown Paints Easyclean Matt Emulsion range. If you fancied something a bit darker then maybe go for Periwinkle from Crown’s Kitchen & Bathroom mid-sheen emulsion. Both emulsions will be tough and durable and will therefore withstand the wear and tear.

Off-white shades and deep creams mix really well with all shades of blue so I recommend you look at complimentary shades like Soft Linen, Beige Light and Biscuit.

These shades will go really well together but remember to pick one shade of cream or off-white and stick with it. Mismatched colours, even if they are neutral, don’t go very well together and will leave your café looking messy.

One mismatch that does work however, is mismatched furniture. I love this retro look that a lot of new restaurants and bars are adopting as I feel it will add a really comfortable and welcoming feel to your café.

Vintage tables and chairs, along with unique pieces of art will set you apart from any other café in the village! They can be sourced easily and without too much expense from markets, charity shops, online and even auctions. Once you have found enough chairs for the café, I would paint the wood in the shades you have used in the décor, including a striking red chair or two! I would recommend Scooter Red in Solo One Coat Gloss, a bright and vibrant shade that will really add to the space and create a great talking point between your customers at the table.

The finishing touches are incredibly important. Remember that the café is not your home so keep the personal photos and objects out. If you have space on the walls, add black and white framed photos of Paris and the French countryside. If your budget can stretch, try to find a large chandelier to hang in the middle of the café. It will look very sophisticated as a centrepiece in the room!

I hope these tips have helped you create the café of your dreams. Good luck with the new business and happy decorating!

Neville

Neville Knott is a celebrity interior designer and Crown Paints Colour Consultant. To receive regular updates and design tips from Neville, simply log onto www.crownpaints.ie