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.

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