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Portfolio } Austin Cantina

September 29, 2007

Here are the before and after interior images for Austin Cantina, a local, family-owned TexMex restaurant in the Ballard district with a mission of sustainability.

Restaurant Exterior

From Web Design to Interior Decorating
Jefe Birker and his family took over the space of the former Dandelion restaurant.  What started as just a web design project quickly evolved into full image branding for my colleague Star Morris (RatStar Creative) and I, and a deadline of just over 1 month!

They wanted a warm, inviting, TexMex-themed space for a mid-level clientele.  It’s not fast food, and it’s not hoity toity either.  Lucky us, the wall color from Dandelion was a warm, buttery color – the perfect start for the desired Austin Cantina environment!  Client benefit: cost-free.  Environmental impact: none.

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Noise Reduction and Art Showcase
Two major things on the list were noise reduction and featuring the Texan art they were bringing in.  A curtain fabric treatment served both needs:  fabric for noise absorption and art showcasing by creating a “window feature” for each piece, flanked along the bottom with a wrought iron tea light. The tea lights glow beautifully under the art pieces during the dinnertime crowd.

Due to time and budget constraints, we had to use non-eco textiles.  Custom treatments were made from rust faux suede, and hung with wrought iron rods.  The window curtains included a flat panel valance, topped off with a belt buckle fringe treatment placed at the center of the valance.  The perfect touch to detract from the dark industrial seams of the window sill corners, the curtains also bring a soft, warm ambiance to the space, which you can see from the outside as well.

They wanted to use tablecloths and couldn’t find any they liked from service providers, so they elected to make their own with 2 fun fabrics in western and chili themes.  We felt glass protective tops would be the best stylized treatment for minimal food impact to the fabrics.  They chose clear vinyl, again due to budget constraint.

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A Synchronistic Find
In the process of searching Craig’s List for the perfect second use décor items, I happened upon an authentic Oregon Trail wagon wheel being sold for the deal of the century – less than $200!  Now, it isn’t every day you find one of those for sale on Craig’s List, let alone for that kind of a deal IN your city!

The wheel is amazingly huge and heavy – wow!  We were going to hang it from the ceiling against the wall but the suspension and installation costs were too high, so we settled for leaning it against the wall until Jefe’s wife, Jennifer is eventually able to turn it into a table top!  I must say, that is going to be one cool table when it’s done!

Portable Beauty
One particular feature that Jefe really had his heart set on was a mural over the stove hood.  When he couldn’t find an artist, I connected him with one from my networking group.  Ingrid does amazing artwork.  This one was created on a canvas so it can be taken with when Jefe eventually needs to move to a larger space!  It was quite the investment so it’s definitely good that it’s portable, and puts the concept of re-use into play for a future larger restaurant space.

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