Pascale Gomes McNabb took a tired old beach-side restaurant in St Kilda and injected glamour, opulence and plenty of fun.
“I was one of a few designers approached by the Stokehouse owners Frank van Haandel and Anthony Musarra to put forward a proposal for the refurbishment of the upstairs dining room. I’ve known Frank and his wife Sharon for a number of years and we’re also business partners at Cutler & Co. The Stokehouse has been running for around 20 years. It has always been a fun dining destination; regular customers treat it as their own dining room. And the staff are fantastic.
“The old Stokehouse was a palimpsest of differing designer and owner interference. It was tired and worn around the edges. The concept was to imbue the space with a relaxed insouciant glamour. It had to attract a new clientele without alienating the regular and loyal customer base. A new bar was created to invite customers to have a few drinks either bar-side or on the balcony. Large sliding doors were added to allow easy access between the inside and out. Large white leather lounges are inviting and comfortable.
“Taking the ethos of a luxe beachside shack, the materials include limed and smoked American oak floorboards which give the space a rugged seafaring feel. Pine lining on walls and ceilings give a comfortable familiarity. Gold brass columns are lit from within and glow at night. The brass on the front of the bar reflects the sunlight and makes the room sparkle.
“A wall of mirrors separates the kitchen from the main dining space. At night a few of the mirrors give views into the kitchen and its action. As the sun sets and the view disappears, the lighting comes into play and highlights functional elements around the room. That includes the reception desk in Calacutta Oro marble, which is backlit at night so it glows like a beacon to customers as they ascend the stairs. The cathedral ceilings are uplit with warm LEDs, and softly turning-timber Boffi fans take centrestage. The lighting in the bar is warm and inviting courtesy of Piero Lissoni’s tubular bell light fittings for Flos.
“All the furniture has been recycled from the old restaurant. The ‘Series 7’ chairs were re-sanded and cleaned, Eero Saarinen’s ‘Executive’ chairs (visit www.dedece.com) were reupholstered in three colours, reminiscent of the beach at sunset. The banquettes were also recycled, reshaped and reupholstered in a chromium free cream leather.
“The kitchen, back of house and the front of house work effortlessly as one unit. Waiters’ stations placed strategically throughout the restaurant ensure smooth flow of service as does the new planning of the kitchen. The kitchen now hums and drives like a new Bentley—one that has a fun interior tiling pattern. Frank says that it has never been busier!”
30 Jacka Blvd
St Kilda, VIC
Pascale Gomes McNabb