10 Fresh-Brewed Ideas to Steal From Your Local Café

Bring elements of your favorite coffee shop into your home and make it a place you’ll want to relax in for hours

By Kate Unsworth  /  Courtesy of Houzz.com

I’m sure I’m not the only one who loves heading to my favorite local café on the weekend — partly for the food and company, but also for that cool café decor, buzz and vibe. Cafés have an ambience that’s conducive to eating, drinking, chatting, reading and just chilling. The recycled materials, hard-wearing finishes and retro pieces create a warm, cozy and inviting atmosphere. Want to recreate the café look and feel in your home? Choose rustic materials, salvaged pieces and industrial furniture to achieve this welcoming look. Then add some knockout appliances, cool lighting, open shelves and fun signage for an eclectic touch. Here are other ways to create an edgy yet inviting space that your family and friends will want to hang out in for hours.

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1. Make a window your bar. This beautiful opening does double duty as a window seat and bar, merging the outdoors with the indoors. Could this be the new kitchen island? Add some industrial bar stools, like these Tolix stools, which come in a wide range of colors to suit your scheme.

2. Chalk up the menu. Blackboards are synonymous with cafés, and at home they’re an interesting way to write up the menu for dinner parties. They’re also great for shopping lists and family communication. Look for old blackboards online or in secondhand stores, or paint one on a spare wall with chalkboard paint.

3. Steal their seating secrets. Cafés often have long communal tables with bench seating or chairs to provide plenty of room for spreading out with newspapers and relaxing for hours. If you can’t find a table long enough, why not put two tables and two benches together, as seen here, and string lights above along the length of it?

Banquette seating is super comfortable and a great option if space is limited.

Cafés often feature mismatched secondhand armchairs to provide that retro feel and a comfortable alternative to dining chairs. Retro armchairs are easy to find in markets and antiques stores.

4. Scour the salvage store. Café style suits a home with original and industrial architecture, like the high ceilings, brickwork and beams seen here. But if your home doesn’t have these features, you can still incorporate the café look in smaller ways — see the close-up of this kitchen’s island in the next image.

This kitchen features a wealth of recycled and salvaged pieces, like the pressed-tin panels in the kitchen island. Cafés create a warm, welcoming and nostalgic vibe by introducing old secondhand pieces with rustic finishes.

5. Choose hard-wearing materials.  Cafés need hard-wearing commercial-grade materials and finishes, which are practical choices for your own home, too. Look for materials such as concrete, stainless steel and rustic, recycled wood that can handle high traffic.

6. Splurge on professional appliances. Every kitchen needs a decent coffee machine, but don’t forget other appliances, such as the oven, dishwasher, teakettle, toaster and food processor. Large, commercial-grade appliances will make your life easier and allow you to cook for a crowd.

7. Source local artworks. Cafés often have local artists’ and photographers’ work up, so make sure you fill the walls with pieces that inspire you. Source art not only in shops but also online, in markets and at auctions. Limited-edition prints can be a more affordable option.

And don’t forget to look for old shop signs. Search secondhand stores and online. Ones that light up are extra special.

This sign is a sculpture in its own right.

8. Try exposed bulb lighting. Café-style lights are often vintage or industrial, in materials such as metal and glass, and exposed bulbs have made a comeback. Scour markets and secondhand stores for good buys.

The filament lighting here pairs well with the industrial metal and wood stools.

Consider wall lights as an alternative to ceiling lights. They look effective when hung as a group.

This pendant light looks homemade — you could make your own with items such as a repurposed wood crate, metal rods, chain and wire.

9. Make a feature of open shelving. Open shelves can add warmth and personality to your café-style space. They allow often-used items to be easily reached, and provide a display space for your treasures. Look in markets for interesting-looking pieces such as jam jars and old jugs and cans.

Open shelves can look cluttered and messy. To keep them looking beautiful and streamlined, choose fewer items and use repetition and symmetry, as seen here. A limited color palette, like the white and beige here, helps too.

10. And don’t forget your outdoor café. Embrace a mild climate and look outdoors when creating your café vibe. If possible, install large doors directly from the kitchen to your outdoor space, and position seating near the doors — you’ll find you use the space more often. In keeping with café style, remember to look for vintage, industrial or bench seating.

Dot herbs and potted plants around to up the green factor.

A wooden sign is a whimsical way to welcome guests or a place to write up the menu.