Modern Makeover: Classic Chairs, Modern Finishes

by Dean Jeffery

Classic restaurant furniture has a reputation for being reliably strong and simple, which is why you’ll see chairs like our Melissa Anne Collection in cafes, restaurants, and bars all over the world. Its affordable price point and universal design have made this an extremely popular chair.

Traditionally, you’ll find these chairs and barstools in black, or dark metallic finishes, like here, and here, but what happens when you give a classic chair a modern makeover with a fresh pop of color?

Lively. Energetic. Vivid. Three words that perfectly describe the visual impact these spaces have -- thanks to the expertly curated use of color on their chairs and barstools.

The Athenian Grill in Lexington, Kentucky, uses the signature Santorini blue in an unexpected and delightful way. The lively color adorns the classic Melissa Anne-like restaurant chairs. The overall space takes the Grecian island vibe and pushes it forward with a modern twist (that’s a vibe right?). The design firm complemented the bright blue color on the chairs, lights, and accent pieces with reclaimed wood pulled right from the original walls of the building. While the space capitalized on reclaimed materials gathered during the renovation, none of it feels “industrial” or repurposed in the cheesy sense.


Nando’s established itself early on as a design-focused powerhouse when it comes to the fast casual food industry. Each store is designed to reflect the diversity of its neighborhood (not a new concept but their interpretation takes it far beyond industry standard), designers used a variety of colors to set the tone in its Ashford location, designed by Blacksheep. The almost matte metallic appeal of the color infused seating reinvents this go-to chair. The space is defined by its intricate lattice work, a common theme noted throughout the entire space.

Dough.pngDough Pizzeria

Dough Pizzeria was born, like many local restaurants, on a small budget and big dreams. “I wanted it to be about the gathering of people to share a simple meal, the energy of that event and the rawness and simplicity of that process. I wanted to lose the sophistication we sometimes feel is necessary when dining out and give it a sense of place,” says owner, Sam Fazzari.

Mission accomplished! This space is plastered with vintage-style movie posters and handmade elements. The colors, the textures, and the lighting work cohesively to create a space that feels authentically grungy and simultaneously welcoming. Part of what makes this space successful is the balance created by using ordinary elements, like plywood and exposed brick, complemented with sophisticated, approachable touches, like the vibrant barstools and designer lighting.

Transforming a somewhat forgettable chair into a statement piece doesn’t have to break the bank, but it can help differentiate your next restaurant project.

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