IN THE PINK AT PASTEL RITA
Looking to your favourite coffee shop for home decor ideas
The next time you’re at your favourite coffee shop searching the web or flipping through the latest edition of Architectural Digest for inspiration, take a moment to look up, and around, to identify what drew you to the place in the first place.
“Most people tend to look online first, for home decor inspiration. I think it’s just as interesting, if not more so, to notice spaces that make you feel a certain way and aim to recreate that feeling at home,” says interior designer Arianne Hudon-Brooks, of HB Design.
“First, try and figure out what the overall experience is like as well as what might be contributing to it: is it the lighting that’s particularly bright or dimmed? Perhaps you resonate with the colours and materials used, or maybe you wish you had similar furniture and accessories at home? Either way, you can draw inspiration from your favourite coffee shop by using similar materials or picking up on a particular element you love.”
With its pink, green and gold colour-blocked walls, whimsical archways and Instagram-worthy WC, Mile End’s Pastel Rita is the kind of café that practically begs you to spend an afternoon in it working, reading or simply taking in its surreal and dreamlike atmosphere.
Created by owners Gabriel Malenfant and Véronique Orban de Xivry with the help of Appareil Architecture, the Wes Anderson-esque café/boutique/atelier is the perfect example of a coffee shop that you could borrow design ideas from.
“The pastel atmosphere of Pastel Rita works because the colours are coherent with the layout and complement the eclectic program of the place,” said Kim Pariseau, Appareil Architecture’s founding architect and a member of l’Ordre des architectes du Québec (OAQ).
“At home, this vibe can be recreated by highlighting architectural elements with a tone-on-tone approach like we did in the seating area.”
Appareil Architecture selected three colours to divvy up the shop
pastel pink, forest green and gold creating different areas, and atmospheres, for patrons to enjoy. The soft pink creates a cosiness in the seating area that’s accentuated by the pink-toned upholstered banquettes.
Other than pulling from the colour palette, Hudon-Brooks suggests applying the café’s design basics in smaller doses, or in more temporary ways, at home.
“To create a Pastel Rita look, I might simply display a colourful set of mugs on an open shelf or find a large piece of art that could eventually be moved around the house,” she said. “I’d also find fun, powder-pink stools for my kitchen island and maybe paint my powder room walls a bright kelly green.”
The banquettes at Pastel Rita are an important part of the decor and, as Thien Ta Trung — co-founder of the sustainable furnishings company Élément de base explains, they’re an essential element of most cafés.
“Most coffee shops have fun and simple banquettes. That would be a nice way to bring the coffee shop home to your space,” he said. “Find a little nook in your home and build a banquette area with a small table. Coffee places have always been work/study places, and banquettes help bring that library feeling home.”
Élément de base recently started a residency at Crew Collective & Café, the opulent coffee shop and collective workspace on the ground floor and mezzanine of the 22-storey Royal Bank of Canada tower, in Old Montreal, that was built in 1928. With its vaulted ceilings, marble flooring and gold accents, the café is impressive and an excellent source of inspiration.
“The team at Crew liked our products and the soft and cosy feel of the Panorama and Ping items; they’re great for public spaces such as cafés because they don’t have seat or back cushions, so the furniture stays neat-looking all the time but they’re also very curvaceous, which is perfect for a nice and warm atmosphere,” said Ta Trung.
“I think the main thing is to go with a few pieces that have a ‘commercial’ style. If you have feather pillows everywhere it won’t look like a coffee shop, it will look like a cottage retreat. Coffee shops are public spaces, so they usually use tight furniture.”
While both Crew and Pastel Rita stand out for their out-of-the-ordinary designs, there’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from a more minimalistic looking spot, like Café Larue & Fils on Jarry Street in Villeray.
With its floor-to-ceiling windows, exposed brick wall and ceiling ductwork, the shop’s bare bones are already remarkably similar to those of many condos in the city.
“Café Larue & Fils, to me, reads as a bright space,” said Arianne Hudon-Brooks. “Natural light is abundant and the use of glossy white subway tile plays nicely with this light. Wood elements add warmth to the mostly neutral palette, while plants and vintage backless stools make the space more casual and relaxed.
“In the N.D.G. kitchen that I worked on, walls were demolished and the existing window was replaced with a much larger one, to achieve our goal of flooding the main floor with natural light. Glossy subway tiles contrast with the rawer and dark concrete countertops; they were installed all the way up to the ceiling for an industrial look.
“Open storage might also make the kitchen feel similar to a coffee shop, keeping everything easily accessible and overall more relaxed.”
The pink upholstered banquettes in Pastel Rita create a cosiness that could also be applied in the home; find a little nook and build yourself a banquette area with a small table to help bring the cofffee shop work/study atmosphere home.
Pastel pink, forest green and gold are the three colours Appareil Architecture selected to create different atmospheres in various sections of the Pastel Rita coffee shop in Mile End.
Crew Collective & Café, the opulent coffee shop and collective workspace in the Royal Bank of Canada tower in Old Montreal, includes several Panorama sofas that could also be used as part of any home decor.
Ping armchairs in velvet reflect the gold accents and stunning ceiling at Crew Collective & Café.
Mile End’s Pastel Rita coffee shop decor, including its Instagram-worthy bathroom, reflects a style and whimsy that can be incorporated in home decor as well.
The N.D.G. kitchen Arianne Hudon-Brooks worked on saw walls demolished and an existing window enlarged “to achieve our goal of flooding the main floor with natural light.”
Glossy white subway tiles work nicely with the natural light in Café Larue & Fils, while plants and vintage backless stools add a casual and relaxed vibe to this mostly neutral decor.
White subway tiles were installed right up to the ceiling in this N.D.G. kitchen for an industrial look. And open storage (below) can make a kitchen feel similar to a coffee shop, with everything easily accessible.