The long-established restaurant called The Oak Room Restaurant had moved location three times over the years. None of these other locations carried any resemblance to its name, not even the tables were of made of oak timber. Norbert Neylon, an award-winning chef and the well-known owner had a very precise design brief. He wanted the interiors to be comfortable, family-friendly and reflect an honest food offering which was high-end but not fine dining. He wanted to cater for couples as well as families and parties and create a relaxed dining environment for all. The interiors were to have an essence of luxury but not feel stuffy and definitely exclude the stiffness that comes with white table linen.
The property was a new-build apart from the existing facade which had to remain intact, and with two apartments to be located above there was a restriction on the overall height of the building, the ceiling height was as low as 2.4 metres in some areas. The building was also quite narrow and long, with the right-hand-side wall adjoining other buildings for this full length. The ground floor needed to house the kitchen as well as its required storage, and the toilets. The client required a cocktail bar which would form the basis for pre-or after drinks facilities and his hope was that Audrey Gaffney Associates would locate it in the front area where a licensed premises, once stood. This was a design challenge due to the building narrowing in this area.
Audrey Gaffney Associates’ favourite aspect of the project was creating the brand image. When the client requested that the interiors tie into the honesty of his food, the designers felt that incorporating the natural beauty, warmth, and rawness of oakwood should play a prominent part in the overall finished design. From the wraparound bar counter to ‘tree’ privacy screens and cut-log recessed cavities; oak has been used in various forms throughout. The designers featured bespoke light fittings in both front entrance windows, created by ‘Made By Greig’. The warm honey oak fitting has a bright copper gilded interior and uses an Edison lamp, which creates a soft, warm glow.
Creating concepts and brands for interiors and working out challenges within existing spaces are tasks Audrey Gaffney Associates love when it comes to designing. This project was very dear to the designers, as their hometown is Cavan, and the success of The Oak Room Restaurant was something that they were determined to help achieve through their strong design.