Homes & Design Photo Credit: Allison Kuhl

Great Spaces: Old Meets New at Cibo Trattoria

How designer Jade Kwok transformed a 100-year-old room into a chic, modern Italian restaurant.

What do you do when tasked with renovating a restaurant in a century-old building? Celebrate the gorgeous historic design details without sacrificing modern comforts.

Cibo Trattoria (Photo: Allison Kuhl.)
This large portrait (Becoming You) by local artist Bruce Pashak acts as a focal point behind the bar. brucepashak.com

That’s just what Jade Kwok did when she took on the redesign of Italian restaurant Cibo Trattoria in Vancouver: “We didn’t want to start from scratch,” says Kwok of the 100-plus-year-old downtown Vancouver building. “We wanted to highlight the existing features.”

Cibo Trattoria restaurant interior, view of chandelier and timber columns (Photo: Allison Kuhl)
This Troy Lighting Epic light fixture adds a hit of glitz to the heritage-inspired space. robinsonlightingandbath.com

To achieve that balance between old and new, Kwok and her team took the original materials (terracotta floors, raw timber columns and brick walls) and added modern light fixtures, pops of colour in the artwork, and textured fabrics throughout. The brick walls tell the history of the place, in Kwok’s view: “You can’t find that new anywhere. It’s got the perfect texture.” The glitzy, tinted glass details on the chandeliers provide industrial glamour and an additional touch of luxury to the space, while chairs upholstered in soft wool blend layers in comfort. (The stylish striped pattern of the fabric plays off both the geometric light fixtures and the horizontally structured Douglas fir beams.)

Cibo Trattoria (Photo: Allison Kuhl.)
A collection of quirky Fornasetti plates lines the white-painted brick wall. fornasetti.com

There’s a playfulness to be found in this space, too: a portrait by Bruce Pashak hangs above the bar, so Kwok decided to cover a wall across the room in smaller portraits…though ones printed on rows of ceramic plates, not canvas. “It’s a conversation starter,” Kwok laughs.

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