One of the paint colours once applied to the walls of Keira Street restaurant Caveau was called ‘‘Endless Road’’, and in some ways the interior at the fine dining restaurant felt that way for owners Peter and Nicola Sheppard.
Chef Peter and Nicola, who manages front of house, took an ad-hoc approach to their restaurant’s interior, which had long been outfitted in a palate of beige and burgundy, with some red glass chandeliers a more recent addition.
They called in designer Donna Brikich for advice on how to freshen up the restaurant ahead of its 10-year anniversary, in May.
But when Brikich returned with plans for a complete overhaul, the Sheppards rolled up their sleeves for a far bigger project than intended.
The brief was for something elegant and sophisticated – neither rustic nor intimidating – that would enhance the atmosphere and allow the food to take centre stage.
Brikich, of Nest Emporium Interiors, took a cue from Caveau’s existing, copper butter cloches, which were retained and inspired new copper lettering at the entrance, a matching tealight holder in the bathroom and miniature pans hung alongside white crockery in a wall display.
‘‘I had dined here and always loved those little cloches,’’ said Brikich.
‘‘When Peter and Nicola contacted me I couldn’t get them out of my mind.’’
One of Brikich’s first moves was to take on the restaurant’s ‘‘jarring’’ suspended ceiling, convincing a reluctant Nicola to have it removed.
The white, office-style panels were stripped away, only to reveal a hidden layer of badly water-damaged gyprock.
But yet another layer in, the move paid dividends. The original ceiling was made of a lovely timber, which needing only minimal patching and a coat of Dulux black.
The move ultimately yielded an extra 40cm in ceiling height and with widened doorways and vertical timber panelling on the walls drawing the eye upward, helped bring a new sense of space to the dining rooms.
Metres of opulent black velvet, draped floor-to-ceiling, broke up the timber panelling, created an added acoustic barrier and lent ‘‘a slight sense of theatre’’, Brikich said.
‘‘Peter is our most celebrated chef – his food is incredible, and I feel that the atmosphere now is more in line with that.’’
With the ceiling and walls (Dulux Teahouse) painted dark, and the carpet black, the gleaming white tablecloths act as ‘‘beacons’’, bringing focus squarely on the kitchen’s creations.
The other great focus is chandeliers crafted from clear mineral water bottles consumed at the restaurant. Peter made a jig and cut the bases from the bottles himself, before the wiring was handled by an electrician.
‘‘I really thought it would be keeping with the restaurant,’’ he said. ‘‘Caveau means cellar.’’
The bar – made of white marble and fronted with black subway tiles – is Nicola’s favourite addition.
The spotted teal chairs are Peter’s favourite part of the new look.
The pair are delighted with reaction from customers.
‘‘We weren’t just changing the appearance of the restaurant, we really wanted to improve the atmosphere of the restaurant,’’ Nicola said.
‘‘It feels like a real coming of age.’’