Homes & Design Photo Credit: Ema Peter

Design Crush: Dalina Grocery, Kitchen and Café

An all-white palette and rustic-chic details bring a slice of Italy to Vancouver’s Chinatown neighbourhood.

“How much space do you give to the bar and how much space do you give to the to-go food? How much for merchandise and how much for seating?” These were just a few of the questions that raced through Andrea Greenway’s mind when she was asked to design Dalina, an Italian-inspired kitchen, café and grocery story in Vancouver’s Chinatown neighbourhood.

But it soon became clear that what a hybrid space like this really needs, is a clean palette that lets the 3,000-square-foot shop’s unique offerings (artisan olive oils and vinegars, to-go lunches, locally-made greeting cards and candles) take centre stage: “By using simple materials in a broad, architectural stroke, no matter what’s going on inside the store, the bones of the design come through,” she says.

The result is a sleek, white-and-marble design that easily fits into the modern landscape, while still nodding towards the shop’s rustic, Northern Italian roots: “It’s a really simple palette of materials that we felt spoke to an Italian bodega or café, but executed with modernity,” says Greenway. “It’s subtle.”  Scroll through the photos below for a peek inside the sleek Italian delicatessen and read on for allllll the design details.


The entrance of the shop, outfitted with a long wooden table, lends a feeling of warmth and community to the otherwise neutral space: “It’s a touch-and-go spot,” says Greenway. “It’s a nice place to sit and check your phone while they’re making your latte or warming up your sandwich to go.”


The gorgeous marble countertop actually isn’t marble at all. Instead, Greenway chose a porcelain product that’s less permeable, making an ideal space for food prep: “You get the look of stone, but it wears better,” she says. Made by an Italian manufacturer, it also contributes to the shop’s overall theme. Plus, “it looks cool,” says Greenway.


The flower wall is one of Greenway’s favourite things about the light-and-airy space. It’s simple and lively, and it can be easily decorated according to season (wreaths and poinsettias at Christmas, fresh bouquets during spring).


“It became clear really quickly that we needed to use vintage pots,” says Greenway of the feature light fixture that was designed in collaboration with 2016 Industrial Designer of the Year Matthew McCormick. “They had to have a certain patina, we had to buy something that had some soul.”


Suspended from the ceiling against a stark-white backdrop of tile, the pots are the space’s primary source of rustic, Northern Italian charm: “Each one of these pots lived in someone else’s house somewhere in the world and had been used and loved to the point that some of them are almost worn through,” Greenway continues. “It was a material choice, but it also communicates a sense of home cooking and comfort.”


Greenway used two different shades of terrazzo flooring throughout (“It was really nice to be able to bring just a hint of sparkle”); a medium-grey tone creates a corridor in the middle, leading visitors to the retail area at the back of the space.


“I really, really love these,” says Greenway of the built-in taps that serve everything from still and sparkling water to cream and milk (including soy and almond). “It’s easy to operate, easy to access,” Greenway continues. “It’s nice that they’ve put a high priority on details like that.”

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