A perfect marriage between interior design and sophisticated cuisine is thanks to another union—interior decorator Mimi Gilmour revitalised this Sydney restaurant under guidance from her partner, chef/owner Warren Turnbull
“I became involved with this project when my partner, Warren [Turnbull, owner/chef] and I came to the realisation that even though Assiette was doing very well, it would benefit from a facelift after its first three years of business. When I started the project, it was still decked out with the same finishings that were in place when it first opened in 2005. Although I’m not an interior designer by trade, I have a fine arts degree, I’ve had experience working under a fantastic interior designer and was born and bred in restaurants.
“After many persuasive discussions, Warren gave me three weeks to transform the restaurant. We only needed to shut it down for three days. “Warren wanted Assiette to be a restaurant where people would feel comfortable while experiencing a high level of service and food. Even though he gave me a free hand, I definitely had to run everything past him! I had always loved the simplicity of Assiette; I thought we could keep a classic look but also have a bit of fun. When I selected three Fornasetti plates [for Rosenthal], I purposefully chose the more cheeky designs. I had them photographed, enlarged and framed in box frames to give a slightly three-dimensional look.
“I decided to introduce that colour into the bathrooms. At Chee Soon & Fitzgerald [www.cheesoonfitzgerald.com], I bought an amazing vinyl wallpaper, covered with 1950s bikini girls, pearls and bows drawn in red biro. I put that in the women’s bathroom and it looked so good, I used the same wallpaper in the men’s bathroom too.
“The wallpaper and the Fornasetti prints are the two things that people always talk about.
“The room is anchored with chocolate brown tones in the carpet, screens, entrance wall, linen press and bar. The dining room was painted white while the white tablecloths, glassware and reflective silverware add a touch of lightness. On top of this clean base, I added mirrors, candles, plants and flowers. I searched long and hard to find the perfect tealights, eventually purchasing some gorgeous fluted French glass tealights from Parterre [www.parterre.com.au].
“I also wanted to bring some silver into the room. At the South Dowling Antique Centre, I bought a collection of mismatching silver water jugs and a silver tray on which to display them. I found a beaten silver wine bucket with matching water jugs. I love the way this antique silver and our new modern cutlery have the same reflective surface; there’s old and new, classic and funky—it all comes together nicely.I love going to Assiette because it’s so comfortable, and I don’t find the food intimidating. I really enjoy showing it off to my friends and family. We will be opening another restaurant just around the corner soon. I’m looking forward to doing those interiors too.”