A beautiful, dilapidated Victorian shopfront is transformed into a local hero, fusing contemporary chic with nostalgic charm.
The prominent high street corner was the perfect location for a transformation. An exciting and thoughtful programme of placemaking, storytelling and design created a new café meets bistro, a welcoming destination to meet.
The brief called for a journey to 1880. Taking its name from two pioneering women – the sites original owner, a draper Mrs Mary Carter and florist Ms Jas Lovett.We embraced their entrepreneurial spirit in its transformation.
Working to a budget of $600,000, the main concern was the deterioration of a building that had been largely unloved for a century. Presenting many challenges, the six-month construction phase and budget almost doubled.
The beautiful bare bones of the building gave us timeless grace, into which we injected contemporary warmth. Creative collaborator and graphic designer Andrew Ashton added curiosity with hand applied murals and signwriting to the façade, through to illustrated menus drawing on 1880 sketches.
Design elements, materials and furniture were meticulously sourced from local craftspeople. Made with love, that enthusiasm radiates in every detail from the leadlight, to the clay pendant lamps, crockery, and custom crafted chairs and tables.
The history of the site enriched the design process, embracing elegance in an understated way. Reinstated arched windows and fine-steel to the north and east facades flood the space with natural light, creating a seamless connection from the street tables to the relaxed, Parisian-style bistro entrance area, through to the stylish dining room with banquette seating. Opaque glass and leadlight detail create a showstopping kitchen at the heart, picked up by the curved steel detailing of the bar.
Luxurious full-length drapes in smoky grey add a theatrical dash, creating intimate spaces with a single swish, encompassing a long, wooden shared table. A functional and durable design does not have to mean “dull”, with a rose-hued concrete quartz floor and abundant greenery, the interior evokes the flamboyance of the Victorian conservatory. It all adds up to a welcoming glamour that is compelling yet puts the customer at ease
“Real places tell stories of past and present that effortlessly transport and distil memories beyond the mundane,” says designer Megan Hounslow.
This project unites Megan’s design sensibilities and her clients, a passionate food critic, and partner with decades of hard-won experience running local cafes, plus two inspired chefs. Rejuvenating a unique but forgotten building on a lively street, the design of Carter Lovett places the community at the centre of its purpose. The interior transforms, from the crisp light of mornings to the atmospheric hues of evening. Layers of warm timbers, natural leathers and hemp linen bring understated sophistication, softening the sturdy concrete floor and bar. Thoughtful intent paves the way for a spirited atmosphere and a people-centred, exciting food experience that’s as playful in its bones.
1. Chairs by Hugh McCarthy
2. Bar top Ceaser stone bar by Ceaserstone
3. Shelving by custom design Megan Hounslow
4. Leadlight by Adadaz Leadlight
5. Light: Anchorage Ceramics / Hub Furniture
6. Curtain : Burrano by Warrick Fabrics
7. Wall dado by:ArtisanPacuita Maher
8. Pigmented concrete floor by Mentone Premix
9. Lab sink + ceramics : Robert Gordon
10. Tap: Brodware/May Noall
11. Stools by Grazia and Co
12. Graphic desing and Brandin Andrew Ashton for Workart life