The thought process

Peters' restaurant is a diner. When I was asked to design it, the owners expressed their desire for something fresh and different from a traditional diner look. They had big ideas about developing a menu which catered to a range of dietary needs from gluten free to low fat and from high protein to vegetarian.

I set out to reflect their menu ideas in the design. I wanted the interior to have as much character as the 1950's diners with their chromes, vinyls and formicas but using mainly natural materials like wood, glass and ceramics. And I wanted to create a haven that felt as if it was outside the city somehow—a breath of fresh air, something different. I was thinking particularly of NYC residents that didn't escape to the beaches on the weekends and would appreciate sittting in an airy, bright, refreshing space while they enjoyed healthier food. Weekend brunches constitute the biggest business for diners, so it was important to make that work.


Until this project, I was unaware that diners are traditionally run by Greek families. The summery feel and stained woods appealed straight away. And, as a small gesture, I incorporated a couple of dolphin tiles into the restroom design for fun.

Most people (including myself) like to sit in booths. I designed single-seater booths because of the width of the space. I took advantage of their narrowness and gave them high backs for added comfort and privacy. I kept them hollow for storage purposes, and for the seat base, I sourced ceramic tiles that had a ridged surface like the tongue-in-groove panelling on the chair back and walls. The base needs to be more durable because of daily floor cleaning. This was a practical and aesthetic solution which maintained the integrity of the design.


On occasion, it was possible to use materials that were naturally colorful, like the three marbles I used as the back splash for the bar.

Another feature that sprung from the long narrow footprint of the store was an architectural lighting feature. The store had light coming in at the front and a door at the back leading to their garden. I altered the shape of the room by angling the top part of the long side walls. By interrupting the sloping part of the wall with recessed lighting, I created the illusion of sky lights and a feeling of openess throughout the interior. This feature accentuated the depth of the store while leading the eye to the secret back garden. A shot of the model illustrates this. (below).


The tile detail that runs along the top of the wood panelling featured beach glass. I mixed in occasional irridescent tiles as they have a depth and luminous quality like no other.


I sourced wall lamps made from similar, soft blue glass to maintain continuity.















The owners were both named Peter and this gave me another idea. Beginning with wall art and menu design, I gathered photos of all the "Peters" I could find from Peter Sellers to Peter Ustinov, Peter and the Wolf to Peter Parker, Peter the Great to Poitr Tschaikovsky. I framed some of the pictures and hung them on the walls. I then made a collage of the others and used these on the menus. When designing the website, I had an idea for an interactive competition where you had to guess who all the "Peters" were.

I thought it would be a great opportunity to make it THE place if your name was Peter. Whether lived in, or visited New York, you had to stop by and sign the wall (nowadays this could also be a Facebook wall)...




This was one of my earliest New York restaurant projects, worked on during 2004. I passed by recently and very little has changed. This is the sidewalk cafe, and both the rattan chairs and hand-stained tables are still looking beautiful seven years on.





Here are some recent (2011) customer reviews.








Working with talented carpenters, I learned all about different woods, grains, durability, and aptitude for staining. Above are some ash and maple samples.

tile detail



During construction, you can see the hollow areas for storage before the cushions were added.



arrowIf you click on this image you can watch a mini slide show of the process from sketches to completion.(to come)




arrow Two-by-two tables are small and need all available space for dishes, so I designed narrow wall-mounted shelves with holes so that they could hold vases full of flowers without risk of toppling off.




As a transitional detail between the cast iron architectural features surrounding the store and the stained wood, glass and tiled frontage, I designed a short metal tile border that incorporated all these materials.




arrrow Close to the opening day, the store front and the signage is completed.



peters picture






arrow Menu covers for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

arrow Sketch for the website homepage.




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