Coffee Shop Inspiration (See Also: ALL The Pictures!)

So, if you recall in my last post, I felt like my initial mood board didn’t fit the aesthetic I was going for in my coffee shop plans. This is because we weren’t even going to open one in the first place until we had a meeting with the builder of our commercial property and he informed us that the residents of the condo complex where our unit is located desperately wanted one.

We’ve always joked about opening a “stupid” coffee shop — and by that, I don’t mean stupid at all. I mean I want to open a shop that is goofy, silly, and playful. Some shops that I’ve been to check these boxes for me, but some can be super serious. Neither one of these is right or wrong, and they all check boxes for different people. We just want a shop that checks the boxes for us. We want to have a shop that’s experimental; a shop that has fun with its offerings and its atmosphere but still serves a great product.

If you follow me on Instagram or know me in real life, you know that our house is full of colorful murals and playful design while still maintaining a pretty minimal vibe. That’s sort of what I want to go for in the shop. I want your eyes to be stimulated when you walk in, but not overwhelmed. I want you to feel like you’re walking into a candy-coated dream where you can feel energized, grab a warm cup of coffee and head out to conquer your day.

Sometimes the first idea isn’t the best one.

Initially, the dream was to open a home barista outfitter and retail shop. Basically, we were going to be the people who helped you decide what to buy to brew a good cup at home. But, as you know, over time that dream changed.

I’ve been a nanny to two incredible young ladies for the last six years. I’ve watched them grow up, and they’ve grown up enough that they won’t need me as a daily nanny anymore. Faced with this, I’ve thought a lot about what I want to do in my future. A coffee shop was always on my radar, but more as a halfhearted laugh than a full-fledged opportunity.

Once we bought the commercial space, it was like the floodgates that held my dreams in exploded. Suddenly, I could envision a small setup, a tiny, 300-something square foot space in our shop where I could fit about three tiny tables. Rotating espresso machines (because… why not?), fun drinks, energizing colors. The dream started to take a real shape. And that’s what I feel called to chase.

So our first idea of being a barista outfitters slowly died, and from its ashes the idea of my very own coffee shop was born.

What will it look like?

This is the first question everyone asks when they find out this is what I’m pursuing. By the time this is posted, it will have been a few weeks since we’ve decided on our final floor plan (hopefully), and so I’ve been able to dream more actively about the shop’s aesthetic.

Like I said, my inspiration for this shop will be similar to that of my house: minimal meets colorful. I want the focus to be on the colors and I am definitely going to paint a mural in there, but I don’t want it to feel overwhelming since the space is going to be super small. Again, it’s going to be one-third of our 960-square foot shop space.

A wooden-slat bar front is calling my name.

This grand image of Partner’s Coffee (formerly Toby’s Estate) designed by Studio Tate is what I had in mind for the bar front. We’re building this entire thing ourselves, and I want it to be realistic but also gorgeous. While our shop won’t have the stone tiles and marble/soapstone backsplash like you see here, we’re going to implement something a little more functional for behind the bar displays since we’re working with such a small footprint.

Form and function and good looks for behind-the-bar retail.

This giant pegboard by Mandi from Vintage Revivals is what I envision going in behind the bar. It’s playful, visually interesting, and endlessly customizable to suit the shop’s needs as they grow and evolve. Plus, the shelves are pretty narrow and the space behind the bar is prime real estate and I don’t want to cut into the functionality and the barflow.

I haven’t decided (if we even utilize this!) if I want the wood to be wood or if I want the wood to be painted. I flip flop between “yes! keep it natural!” to “baby GIRL — PUT A MURAL ON THAT BAD BOY!” So, your guess is as good as mine! I’d love any ideas y’all have!

YES, there will be a mural somewhere.

SPEAKING OF MURALS! My favorite part!! Now, I’m not entirely certain where the mural will be, but there will be one.

When we were planning on the front of the shop being a barista outfitters, we were going with a masculine, smoking lounge vibe. Wallpaper, leather, plants. When that idea changed, so did my vision. I’ve always been super inspired by Alex Proba of Studio Proba, and this pool mural in particular is what I envision in this space.

This will be a fun (albeit small) step away from my typical murals. Generally speaking, I am drawn to more geometric shapes and ultra-clean lines. This time, though, I want to dabble in more natural, flowy spaces because I want it to contrast the rigid industrial interior of the space as it is now.

Color palette: think soft and bold colliding.

As for color palettes, I DIE over the interiors of 400 Rabbits by Studio Richardson. I love the basic colors with the soft pastels, and it still feels a little homey even though the industrial elements like the metal track lighting and the metal window frames are left in place. A friggin vibe.

More ideas for in-the-shop retail shelving.

I’m really digging this shelving from Drugstore Espresso in South Yarra in Australia. I love how that wall of shelves in the back goes waaaaayyyy up the wall. Our space has 25-foot ceilings in some parts (it’s a slanted roof) and I like the idea of bringing the shelves up past the traditional 8-9 foot wall height. Plus, the diagonal feature of some of the cubbies adds just a touch more dimension. Big fan.

Picture this: colorfully-stained butcher block countertops.

I said this before, but let me reiterate: we’re doing this buildout all ourselves, and we’re paying for this out of pocket. So, what do you do when you need an affordable, functional workspace? You source inexpensive materials that will last! For us, this point us in the direction of butcher block countertops.

If you’ve seen traditional butcher block countertops, you know that they come in a natural, pale pine color. That’s cool, and a great look for some, but I think I’d really like to stain the countertops. I discovered that the brand Cabot makes colorful wood stains that come in vibrant colors like pink, orange, and turquoise.

So, am I as excited to design a shop as I am to work in it? The answer: HECK YEAH. Am I nervous that I’m going to suck at running a shop!? HELL YEAH. Will it probably be okay in the end?! I HOPE. I just keep reminding myself that I’ve never done this. I might suck at first. There are people who also had never done this before and did it and slayed it. So, I mean. Fingers crossed!

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