House of Nomad is a full-service design studio led by globetrotting duo, Berkeley Minkhorst and Kelley Lentini. While they expertly curate both commercial and residential spaces, their most recent project features a modern yet welcoming aesthetic at local Charlotte cantina, El Thrifty. Through a fusion of restaurant interior design trends and bold global influences, Kelley and Berkeley transformed the space into a unique and eclectic design that transports locals to Guadalajara. The blend of modern style with traditional Mexican themes stands out as a design that is unique to this local hotspot and gives this project a layered and rich story in the Charlotte scene.
Interesting Interpretations of Restaurant Interior Design Trends
When they first began this project, it was important to the HON duo that they make El Thrifty feel like an oasis, infusing a laid-back theme to contrast and complement the lively atmosphere of this local Charlotte eatery. They used the timeless black and white restaurant interior design theme, strategically hanging thatched pendants for a charming addition to the thematic.
“We love the trend of restaurants and bars transporting you to a different place through design. The goal is feeling like you’re on vacation and a little more carefree!” For the pair, this also meant incorporating vibrant colors and an abundance of textures. Bright corals and turquoise were selected for the outdoor space to evoke a playful vacationer spirit. Outdoor hanging swings in bright colors set a welcoming mood, inviting locals and visitors to linger longer.
Authentic Global Influences
As their studio’s name suggests, it’s no surprise that Kelley and Berkeley have a passion for travel. They are often able to use this passion to their advantage, especially for El Thrifty, a project that brought them on an unforgettable trip to Mexico to bring home new restaurant interior design ideas.
A few weeks before the opening of El Thrifty, HON traveled to Guadalajara and Sayulita to source some finishing touches to the restaurant design. Vintage photography, fiber artwork, paintings, textiles and even candle holders were among the items they brought back from local artisans, adding an element of authenticity into the restaurant interior design. “Being able to bring these items back in time for the opening really elevated the overall design,” notes Kelley. “This exact kind of project is why we started House of Nomad, and it came full circle when we were able to design this restaurant.”
Blending Neutrals and Bold Patterns
Longtime fans of the classic black and white combination, House of Nomad played to this restaurant interior design theme in the bar tile and countertops, and then brought in pops of color in furniture and fabrics. Black and white can also be seen on walls, light fixtures, and even hanging art prints.
Using Sunbrella fabrics, Kelley and Berkeley brought bold patterns to diversify the classic color combination. “We knew we didn’t want to sacrifice style or color when choosing the fabrics for the banquette area inside the cantina. We fell in love with Stratford Forest and when we realized that it was also a performance fabric — we were SOLD. It is soft to the touch, so perfect to be used indoors, and stain resistant. So salsa, beware!”
The designers replicated this exciting contrast on the exterior spaces as well, pairing bright coral wicker chairs with brown and slate accents and soft white Sunbrella chair cushions. Sunbrella throw pillows in an eye-catching black and white Cabana Classic stripe are peppered throughout to complete the fresh and functional aesthetic.
Functional Design with Timeless Style
One of the biggest challenges of the project was marrying the modern aesthetic with functional properties of restaurant interior design. “It really is all about the perfect mix of form and function,” Berkeley explains. “You have to make sure that the materials you are selecting will hold up — not only because this is a restaurant — but because the design must stand the test of time from a style perspective.” For the design duo, Sunbrella performance fabrics are the full package, for both indoor and outdoor use. Woven with comfort and durability in mind, they’re soft to the touch and easily cleanable. Their outdoor friendly qualities include UV and water resistance, meaning Sunbrella fabrics will last significantly longer than traditional fabrics in commercial application.
“Working on this project was such a dream for us,” the duo shared. “We love a design challenge and we also love traveling and sourcing unique things for our clients!” For high traffic spaces like El Thrifty, Sunbrella performance fabrics ensure their unique style lasts for years to come.
To learn more about House of Nomad, check out their portfolio at https://www.houseofnomaddesign.com/, or their Instagram @houseofnomaddesign. To see more inspired commercial design content follow @sunbrellacontract on instagram!