Designer Tina Rich helps her cousins create a bright, beachy cafe in St. Petersburg Florida that reflects their clean, plant-based menu—and their Greek roots.
Photos by Christian Torres
Cafes are to us 21st-century folk what the tavernas have been to the Greeks for hundreds of years. They offer a place for to congregate, sip a steaming cup of coffee, and Instagram enviable decor.
For brother and sister Mike and Arielle Collins, opening a cafe was a way of sharing their Greek roots and love of clean food with their neighborhood in Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. To ensure that Rawk Star Cafe fit the modern bill (with requisite photo-worthy killer tiles) they tapped someone who also had Greek roots—their cousin and Homepolish designer .
“[My cousins] wanted a space that truly reflected the Rawk Star Cafe ethos of clean eating,” Tina shares. “They both are truly passionate about it, and they wanted a space where they could share their amazing food, but also their expertise in the field of health and fitness.”
Tina designed the space to reflect the natural vibe established by the menu, which combines raw, organic, plant-based foods, with nods to their ancestry. Tina borrowed design inspiration from the cafes dotting the Greek isles—think beachy materials, like rattan, wicker, and linen upholstery. The area’s signature terracotta appears here as custom pendants above the bar.
Mimicking that seaside vibe, Tina peppered in calming blues hues and laid tiles aplenty—from an irregular tile behind the bar to a black terrazzo on the floor of the main seating area. The designer also made sure the cafe’s own beachy surroundings made its imprint on the aesthetic.
“St. Petersburg is known for their beaches, and I wanted that to be reflected in the space,” Tina explains. “We really wanted the space to feel like it could be an extension of outside, so we made sure there was a ton of natural lights and filled the space with plants.”
That means a custom shelf above the window will eventually grow into a lush screen of foliage. To extend the coastal feel, she also clad the walls in grey shiplap, selected blond wood shelving and benches, and added in breezy rattan hanging chairs—which she was tasked with attaching to the 20-foot ceiling.
Tina unearthed one of her favorite features, the giant rattan pendants hovering over the communal table, during her time in another beachy destination. While honeymooning in Bali, she met the artisans who would eventually create these especially for the cafe. Consider them a new kind of family heirloom.
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