Cafe Tennyson + Bistro | Before & After

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.

installation day - looking good!

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.

Neighbourhood Eats Cookbook

Introducing this beautiful cookbook filled with treasured family recipes from the Napier Central School neighbourhood…

Dael and I are thrilled to have played a small part in this beautiful cookbook, “Neighbourhood Eats”, which features mouth-watering, tried and trusted recipes from the Napier Central School community. The book is a school fundraiser to raise money to help save their school pool, which needs major refurbishments.

I know when you envisage a school cookbook you might think photocopied pages and spiral binding, but not this cookbook! Neighbourhood Eats is the most beautiful hardback book filled with 275 recipes and more than 300 incredible original photographs shot by our favourite photographer, Florence Charvin.

Every family has at least one or two favourite recipes. You know the ones handed down from your grandmother; the ones that have a story that goes with them, and a history; the ones that have been experimented with and adjusted until they’re just right. Put together in one stunning book, the recipes and the stories in Neighbourhood Eats will make their way into your kitchen and your heart.

The recipes in this book are a perfect reflection of the cultural diversity found at Napier Central School. As well as Kiwi kids, they have pupils whose backgrounds include Thai, Swedish, Scottish, Malaysian, Japanese, Indian, Australian, Irish, Middle Eastern, Greek, Italian, and German, to name a few. Also scattered through the book are recipes from some well known New Zealanders - Jacinda Ardern, Peter Gordon, and Jospeh Parker have all donated their favourite recipe.

Behind the scenes there has been the most incredible group of people working tirelessly to make this book a reality. A group of volunteer cooks made up of mums, dads, grandmothers and teachers, cooked all of the recipes. Members of the Napier Central PTA organised and oversaw the photoshoots, liaised with the graphic designer, recruited sponsors, organised printing, donating their time all in an effort to help their childrens’ school.

The name Neighbourhood Eats came about because of the huge effort put in from the whole community - parents, teachers, pupils and local businesses. Sponsorship support from a large number of local businesses covered all of the production costs, which means that 100% of the profits can go directly into the Napier Central School “save the pool” fund. Between us Dael and I have five daughters, all of whom are past pupils of this wonderful school, so we were very happy to be able to help with this project, sponsoring the ‘soups and breads’ chapter.

The Neighbourhood Eats cookbook costs $45 and can be ordered from their great looking website (built by Kathryn McGarvey). What a brilliant gift it would make, so why not grab a few copies for your mum and your sister too, knowing that you’ll be giving a fantastic gift as well as contributing to a worthy cause. I’m sure these are going to fly out the door, so don’t miss out, order your copy today.

Renovation & Conversation Evening

Last week we held an evening at our workspace with our friend Laura Jeffares. Our aim was to let our guests know a bit more about our businesses, and for them to leave with a few interior styling and floristry tricks that they could try themselves at home. Dael and I work in a very cool old warehouse in Ahuriri, Napier which we share with a number of other small businesses. The building has an industrial vibe, and this combined with Laura's amazing floral arrangements made for a great venue.

A gorgeous big floral display greeted guests outside our building | photo: Florence Charvin

The lady herself, Laura Jeffares, next to one of her arrangements | photo: Florence Charvin

The entrance to our work is through an old shipping container which we lined with greenery. Inside guests were welcomed by the dulcet tones of super talented local musician, Sarah Wiig.

One of our favourite artists, Rae West, arriving through our shipping container entrance | photo: Florence Charvin

Sarah Wiig sings as our guests arrive | photo: Florence Charvin

Another of Laura's creations in a Bibby + Brady vase | photo: Florence Charvin

Even Sarah's mike and music stand didn't escape Laura's touch | photo: Florence Charvin

Upon arrival guests were treated to a glass of delicious Rod McDonald wine, and there was a spectacular 1m long grazing platter that was created by The Mad Platter - a relatively new local business that is growing in leaps and bounds.

Beautiful bouquets by Sarah Till of My Flower Cart were available to purchase | photo: Florence Charvin

The incredible platter provided by The Mad Platter | photo: Florence Charvin

Sister-n-laws, Kylie and Birgitte, are The Mad Platter | photo: Florence Charvin

One of the best parts of our job is being surrounded by so many clever and interesting people. We had an incredible group of women at our event, both helpers and participants, as well as our guests.

Our fabulous friends and helpers, Kathryn (Savve) and Sally | photo: Florence Charvin

Birgitte explains more about her and Kylie's business The Mad Platter | photo: Florence Charvin

Dael and I have worked with Laura Jeffares a lot over the years. She is highly talented when it comes to floristry, styling, and hair, specialising in weddings and events. If you're interested, book her now, as she gets super busy over the Summer months.

Laura demonstrates a simple floral display using flowers from My Flower Cart | photo: Florence Charvin

photo: Florence Charvin

Laura demonstrates how to use oasis when putting together an arrangement of foliage | photo: Florence Charvin

Dael and I wanted to explain a bit about how we work and show some "before" and "after" images of our work. We shared some of our top interior design tips, and finished with a quick demonstration and explanation of how to style a console table.

photo: Florence Charvin

Thank you to everyone who attended our Renovation & Conversation evening, we had a fantastic time with you all. We will be holding more of these events in the future (including one next month in Gisborne), so keep an eye on the blog and our social media for up to date information. Please let us know if you have anything in particular you'd like to hear us speak about, or if you're outside of Hawke's Bay and would like us to visit your town. You can get in touch with us here.

A special thanks to all of our amazing friends who helped make this evening a success - Laura Jeffares, Florence Charvin, The Mad Platter, Rod McDonald Wines, Sarah Wiig, Sarah Zonneveld, Sarah Till, Kathryn McGarvey, Sally Barnett, and our awesome landlords, Band.