September last year we received a short email requesting our help to refurbish a café. The email was from Julien and Sophie Debord, a French couple who had recently bought the well-known Napier café, Ujazi. When we met with them, their brief was to makeover the café, creating a warm and welcoming space and combine Napier’s Art Deco style with a hint of French tradition.
While we began work on the design concept, we put Julien and Sophie in touch with our clever friend, Kate Merrifield Mason, of Ripe Design. Kate designed the logo and the beautiful menus for Café Tennyson + Bistro. Much discussion was had about whether to keep the Ujazi name, which was so well known in Napier, or begin this new journey with a fresh name. In the end the latter was chosen. Located on Tennyson Street, we all loved the name Tennyson. It felt quite “Gatsby” which fitted the Art Deco vibe we were going for. Our first design concept was to give an overall look to see if our vision married up with Julien and Sophie’s.
We then put a second design together with more specific pieces and finishes for the café.
With the designs approved, the next step was to implement them. With the shortest time frame we’ve ever had to work to - Sophie and Julien had given their staff two weeks holiday while the café was closed for refurbishment - we knew we had to work with a professional company with a full team of trades available to them. Your Solutions were absolutely brilliant taking our designs and making them a reality in twelve days! Yes, twelve long days to transform the café. We will be forever grateful that they made that happen.
Previously the café was painted a myriad of bright colours - orange, lime green, purple… To create that Art Deco vibe and to draw people in, we chose a stunning wallpaper called Hollywood Palm in rose gold. We teamed that with glass sphere pendants and green velvet booth seats.
Although the street front tables were often full, we noticed that people didn’t tend to sit indoors. As well as the colours we decided to change the layout inside to give it a better flow. Julien and Sophie, having owned a bar in France, knew exactly where they wanted their new counters.
A wall was removed to allow space for the pâtisserie counter. As head chef Sophie knew she wanted to fill this with French pâtisserie, salads and savoury treats.
We designed both the pâtisserie and barista counter and then handed it over to the clever joiners at Your Solutions to create. We chose a gorgeous subway tile in deep green and white with a handmade effect to emulate those French bistros that had been around for many years.
The barista counter was designed in reverse with deep green tiles and a stripe of white. It’s located straight in front of the entrance, at the end of the original counter.
I always love a mezzanine floor, but the original upstairs area didn’t get a lot of customers. Our original design featured the Hollywood Palm wallpaper in gold and black for a moodier vibe, but to stay within budget we had to loose it. Instead we added panelling to the bottom of the wall to create an architectural feature.
Your Solutions made the panelling that we designed. We loved visiting their workshop to see it laid out on the floor, and then following the progress of it being installed and painted. It added that interest to the stairwell leading you up. We chose a glossy black for the panelling and a gorgeous pinky brown for the wall above.
The mezzanine floor is now my favourite space in the café. The gold velvet booth seats, black bistro chairs and walnut tabletops give the upstairs area a different identity whilst still feeling cohesive with downstairs.
Looking down into the main café is quite different now…
The original bathroom was quite something in the brightest Fanta orange. We gave this area its own makeover, repeating the panelling we used on the stairs and topping with another beautiful wallpaper, installed by our mate Claire Condon. A new vanity with gold tap and pretty mirror completed the look.
A lot has changed in this little café and not just the decor. As well as the treats available in the pâtisserie, you would be wise to take a seat and check out the menu. There are delicious breakfast and lunch options, and you can enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with lunch.
Sophie and Julien have more exciting ideas to introduce to Café Tennyson + Bistro, so make sure, if you’re in Napier, to pay them a visit.