Design/Build and Commercial Interior Design Firm in VT | IMHOTEP

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Haymaker Bun Co. & The Arcadian

Matt and Caroline Corrente bought the defunct Lobby restaurant in Middlebury, Vermont, and wanted to transform it into a multi-function space to combine their culinary passions. In the mornings, Haymaker Bun Co. would offer coffee and baked goods, and in the evenings, the space would become The Arcadian, a modern Italian bar and restaurant. The primary challenge was to design an interior that could house two different businesses at different times of day. We didn’t want to simply create a backdrop that would suit both businesses. We wanted to design elements that would enhance each of the two operations and highlight how they complement each other.

At the entrance, the space opens up to a bar area with dramatic 16 foot ceilings, and a clear view of the unique, three-level layout. This was an opportunity to create an impactful first impression, and facilitate a seamless transition from day to night. We started with the tall, open back bar wall with five large windows. Wanting to maintain privacy, we considered shades and different types of glass, before finally deciding to eliminate the windows altogether in favor of something more striking. We designed a custom light fixture that would brighten the space, fix the privacy issue, and draw the focus of people entering from the front. We loved the idea of backlit stone, but custom panels the size we needed were out of our client’s budget. We finally found 12” x 24” white onyx floor tiles that were affordable, and could be set in front of large LED light panels that are more commonly found in drop ceilings.

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The back bar had initially felt like our biggest obstacle, but with some innovative thinking, we made it the highlight of the space. Our building experience allowed us to transform ordinary materials into a high-end element that was striking, functional, and reflected the day-to-night concept guiding our design. To complete the look, we tiled the entire back wall to create an effect distinct from the rest of the space without overshadowing the onyx light fixture. We used 3×12 white tile with grey shading that has more depth than standard subway tile. During the day, the onyx appears white, and combined with the tile, gives a clean, fresh feel, perfect for a daytime cafe. When lit at night, the fixture creates a dramatic effect that draws people in from the moment they step into the room.

When we chose the white subway tile for the back bar, we had envisioned that it would pop against a colored wall. When the client decided to paint the walls white, we had to adapt and introduce color in ways that would help balance the onyx. We painted the cabinets on the back bar a dark, forest green to add some warmth. To add some dimension, we placed plants on wooden shelves below the windows, creating a sill with vines hanging down. With the addition of the plants, the tile even more resembled brick, and combined they give the impression of bringing the exterior in, and breaks up the monotony of the white walls.  Looking ahead, the effect will be heightened with the use of the outdoor deck in the warmer months. The end result is clean, and minimal, with the white onyx light fixture becoming the focus, drawing customers into the bar.

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The final challenge was to decorate the ample wall space throughout the restaurant. The clients requested a custom mural that would reflect elements of both the bakery and the restaurant, tying them to each other and to Vermont. For the three murals, Olivia made over 40 vector icons of local ingredients that she then arranged into shapes that would best suit each wall space.  A ceiling projector above the main dining room had been used to project movies onto the wall,  and this inspired us to use a similar method to create the mural. It took some adjustment and experimentation to avoid warping from distance or the angle of the light, but we eventually were able to project a clear image that Olivia could trace directly on the walls. We decided that black icons would best pop against the white walls, and we were able to achieve a high level of detail by using fine artists brushes and careful work to create clean, sweeping lines.

The challenge for this job was unique, but we think we rose to meet it with equally unique solutions. Our design helps facilitate the transition between Haymaker in the morning and The Arcadian in the evening, and the custom, multi-functional elements we created enhance their customers’ experiences, no matter the time of day— or night. ∆

Olivia Tubio