Going Green in 2013

Pantone’s recent selection of “Emerald” (Pantone 17-5641) as the color trend for 2013 sets the mark for fashion and home.  This selection will also become relevant for the design world when we see it make an appearance in commercial textiles and materials. Emerald may remind you of whimsical times in “The Wizard of Oz” or pay a certain homage to those native of Seattle (aka The Emerald City) but it is definitely a color worth paying attention to as we watch it come to life in 2013.

Speaking in terms of color psychology, green can have a calming effect and is the easiest color on the eye, which may be why various shades of green are seen in hospitals and waiting rooms. It will be interesting to see how this newly announced color will be used in the hospitality industry, specifically in restaurants and bars. In my experience, I was taught to shy away from using green in establishments where people will be eating, as the aura of green walls will subconsciously remind them of mold and ultimately deter them from finishing their plate-sized burrito. Then again, green is also the color linked to money and let’s be honest: who doesn’t like money in times like this?

Maybe instead of slathering an entire wall with a parade of Emerald tones, we can start by introducing small pieces of the color in accent materials or light fixtures. We don’t want our potential clientele to push away their antipastos quite yet…

Hard Surfaces Create Noisy Spaces

Rigid surfaces are excellent sound reflectors.

I recently designed a restaurant/bar where the owners wanted to utilize wood finishes and surfaces throughout. Given my limited involvement as a designer to this project, I was asked only to draw and space plan the building layout and equipment, since they had their own designer on staff.

Since the owner decided on all hard surfaces for this particular restaurant: Wood table tops, wood floors, wood ceilings and beams with open trusses, wood chairs, and wood wainscot, sound never had a chance. The only soft element was a ‘lonely’ seat cushion to sit on in the all wood booth.

When the restaurant opened its doors, customers raved about the new neighborhood eating establishment, but after about a month of being opened customers began to complain about the restaurant being too noisy. Excess noise is a common problem when using only hard surfaces throughout any building, because there is simply nothing to absorb the sound.

To reduce noise in an establishment, there are several different materials and many ways to reduce noise. A very simple recommendation for this particular installation is to add elements that can help absorb sound such as, carpeted areas, attractive acoustical wall panels, draperies, and upholstered booths and chairs. For this particular restaurant, they chose to add acoustical banners up in the ceiling to hang from the trusses. This very simple solution has aided in absorbing the excess noise while adding another design element to the space.

Tools of the Trade

Many designers forget that their clients can be flummoxed by technical aspects of restaurant design. Thankfully, there are a few tools out there that can help us provide our clients a better understanding of what a space may look like. While most designers are comfortable working and reading 2D space plans many of our clients have trouble visualizing their future spaces using conventional design tools. Bargreen Ellingson Design employs several tools to give our clients the ability to understand what their final project will look like with just the click of a button. However this doesn’t just help clients visualize their designs, it also helps us convey the mood and nuances of a design that can be lost in translation.

Here are just a few tools our designer are using:
Google SketchUp:  

This is a free download from Google, but you can also purchase a license to use some of the features that may not be available on the free version.  This is a simple and intuitive program to which allows a person to create 3D drawings quickly. I would definitely recommend to anyone who is interested in doing 3D, to first start with Sketchup.

Autodesk SketchBook:  

Deriving from the makers of Autodesk, Sketchbook is a really great tool to use when rendering a drawing or if you want to sketch an idea out.  The great thing about Sketchbook is you can put it on your tablet and sketch ideas in front of your client.  I really enjoy using this program for rendering purposes because I can add the actual material I have specified.

Autodesk 3Ds Max Design:  

Another great 3D modeling program that many architects and designers are using today. Unlike Google SketchUp, 3Ds Max gives you a realistic feel what a space is going to look like.  You can also create an animated walk-through of the space, which can provide the client a real feel for the entire space instead of just a section or limited area.

Adding Warmth to a Space

I recently completed a restaurant remodel that transformed a tired, outdated interior into a warm and contemporary atmosphere.

The customer had done extensive traveling and brought many exciting design concepts to the table, and allowed us to incorporate many of the ideas we collaborated on together into the new restaurant interior.

The main color scheme includes such colors as cream, gray, and espresso and further includes touches and finishes such as glass, acrylic and gold panels. The interior is very rich in its overall color palette, but it’s the additional design elements that add that extra ‘warmth’ to the space which makes the restaurant cozy and inviting.

To provide that extra warmth, we designed in such elements as, a rectangular contemporary fireplace in a wall near the lounge and entry. Custom clouds were designed over the lounge seating area and dining settee areas. The custom clouds have led lighting strips where different colors can be changed and adjusted remotely, that also add a ‘Warm’ element of light and color. Custom light pendants add additional illumination and warmth, as does the led lighting in the built-in waterfalls.  Tall drapes flown in from Asia finish off the windows and add warmth to the room.

All of these design elements come together and create that special restaurant ambiance that ultimately allow the customer to feel at home.

Padded or Hard Seats?

When presenting different seating options to a customer, I’m often asked if wood seating will be comfortable.  If I were to give my honest opinion, I would say in capital letters (which could come off as me yelling, which isn’t possible since I was born with an indoor voice only), that answer no. If they were to re-phrase that question as “Is a padded seat going to be more comfortable than a wood seat?” the answer is “yes”. You don’t have to be a prodigy with a degree in seat “comfort-ability” to know that if you’re sitting your glutes on a padded seat for an hour, you’re going to order at least two more Cosmopolitans to complement your potato fingerlings. There are times, however, when using a wood seat is more appropriate for your establishment. Are you looking to have a quick turnaround at lunch time? Is the solo business person who needs one hand on a club sandwich and the other flicking pages on their iPad your ideal customer? Then a wood seat is for you. If you don’t want patrons to get too comfortable and spends hours in your bistro because you’re waiting for the next thirty customers to come through, leave the overstuffed furniture to the country clubs.

I’m not going to lie: when given the option of sitting on a padded bench or a wood chair, I will undoubtedly choose the padded bench. I usually get my way considering my husband would prefer the better view of the football game; in that case, he can spoil himself with the comfort of the wood seat.

Small Changes can have a BIG Impact

Want to make a big impact on a tight budget? A few upgrades can make a huge impact to your space. Check out these lights by Recesso Lighting. These fixtures transform an ordinary recessed can light into a spectacular custom fixture. By utilizing their conversion kit you can customize your space from something bland to something WOW!

In just 3 easy steps most modern fixtures can be upgraded from humdrum recessed lights to something modern. If your establishment is just looking a little dated and is in need of just a little updating we encourage you start with small changes like replacing your recessed lights to see if that’s all you need to make a drastic change in your appearance. Of course, if you’re in need of a complete update give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to guide your establishment in the right direction!

For more information about Recesso lighting and to see the full catalog visit. www.recessolighting.com

Welcome to the Bargreen Ellingson Design Blog!

There are many facets when it comes to design that should be contemplated before creating the perfect masterpiece. The same is true as it relates to designing the perfect foodservice establishment and areas with that establishment such as the restaurant, bar, kitchen, dish room or prep area. To provide an effective design, commercial kitchen and interior related design becomes a very specialized and technical process, which is why at Bargreen Ellingson we have decided to share just a glimpse of what’s required to make a foodservice establishment work effectively and efficiently all in a nice, tidy blog.

Check back frequently to catch the latest on kitchen, bar and interior design from the perspectives of true experts and professional commercial kitchen & facility designers. See and hear about the latest trends from everything to fabric selections, to selecting effective pieces of equipment for the kitchen that create a warm, welcoming ambience and further interest for dining patrons of any establishment.

If at anytime we can be of further help, we’re just a phone call or email away. We certainly appreciate your visit and interest in us.


Craig Welborn

Director of Marketing and former Designer