The Saku restaurant, in the Canadian city's downtown area, was renovated inside and out to dramatically transform the existing commercial space.
Local studio Rane Interiors led the project. Emily was responsible for the interior design, while Nathan acted as the general contractor and project manager.
The duo looked to traditional Japanese-style restaurants, which often feature lots of wood, and used a pale colour palette to create a contemporary aesthetic in the space. Cream, orange and soft caramel hues were used to reference several design styles.
"I designed Saku with art deco, retro 1970s, and traditional Japanese influences in mind," said Emily. "I wanted the small space to feel light, inviting, and soothing, like the comfort food they offer up".
The eatery spans 600 square feet (56 square metres) and is galley-style in plan. Across the exterior, new cedar panelling was laid horizontally to refresh a front patio.
Inside, thin wooden slats cover the ceiling to lend a clean, cosy charm. In one portion, these slats are also placed vertically to cover a partition concealing a bathroom area.
An arched niche in another wall accommodates a long mirror with similarly curved top corners. This rounded detailing is also used in front of the kitchen, located in the rear of the restaurant.
Built-in seats upholstered in a caramel-coloured leather run along each side, facing orange or grey tables.
"Long banquette seating maximizes the space and humbly reminds us of a retro diner when paired with the stacked-maple Formica-topped tables," said Emily.
Halo light fixtures designed by Vancouver-based Matthew McCormick hang from the ceiling. In the bathrooms, a playful yellow wallpaper is a vintage stock from the 1970s, and made in Italy.
Another element of the redesign is a focus on sustainable design. Formica's Terrazzo laminate on the table tops reuse offcuts of solid laminates, and the light grey Odger chairs – designed by Form Us With Love for IKEA – are made from wood chips and recycled plastic.
Saku joins a selection of restaurant projects completed recently in Vancouver, like a Mexican spot influenced by 1950s beach resorts and a plant-filled hotel eatery modelled on a conservatory.
Photography is by Jon McMorran.