Lazari Coffee Shop Redesign by Onnah Design

WORDS Gina Dionisio PHOTOS Karl Rogers

Lazari, located in Cape Town’s Vredehoek neighbourhood, has been revamped by architect and designer Hanno de Swardt of ONNAH DESIGN.

Lazari Coffee Shop, a long-standing neighbourhood favourite, has been given a Mediterranean revamp by Hanno de Swart of ONNAH DESIGN. “My main goal with this interior design project was to meet the client’s brief, budget and timeline but also pay homage to the previous owner Chris Lazari who owned and ran the shop for 18 years, no less,” says Hanno. 

The new owners wanted Hanno to transform the cozy eatery into a lighter and brighter space that would encourage customers to linger longer. Warm blues offset against calm, relaxing, earthy tones in the newly refurbished eatery. “The space could almost be compared to a “big fat Greek wedding” – something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” explains Hanno. “I wanted the interior to compliment the exciting Mediterranean dishes which have been added to Lazari’s new menu”.


To make sure that the circulation and flow of the space remained easy and practical, Hanno introduced banquette seating and a new bar counter along one length of the shopfront. Oak lookalike melamine was used for the new table tops and to define the custom made banquette seat, by Bespoke Living. The front of house kitchen counters also received new cladding in the form of thin vertical oak strips on a black backdrop.

READ MORE: Before and After: Cafe Manhattan Redesign by Hanno de Swardt

“Lazari is blessed with ample floor to ceiling height so I celebrated the volume by adding woven wire pendants and terracotta pots with dried Eucalyptus Populus, hung upside down, just for fun,” says Hanno. An existing cantilever slab was extended over the front of house kitchen counters which allowed the interior team to hang 75 coffee cups, lit by small star lights. This installation introduces an eye-catching and super fun element to the shop.

The most popular corner in the shop, the cosy lounge area, also boasts a fresh new look. “We upcycled the shop’s original retro sofa with Hertex’s fun ‘Swimmin Lagoon’ fabric, and reupholstered the two vintage armchairs in Spunky Sky, also from Hertex,” says Hanno. “The blue feature wall behind the sofa is painted in Plascon Blue Eyed Sailor, which is quite apt description for the theme of the space”. The wall, previously clad in a bright repeat retro design wallpaper, remains a focal point in the space. Hanno chose an abstract, out of focus landscape image off Shutterstock and had it printed as wallpaper. “The idea behind the wallpaper is to transform you to another place, another time even. It could be Positano in Italy, or somewhere on the French Riviera. Wherever you want really,” he says. 

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The bathroom which was previously the darkest corner in the restaurant, also received a much needed makeover. The dark walls and ceiling have been painted white, and new geometric patterned wall tiles add interest. A practical oak floating shelf, ideal for resting one’s handbag, has been added below and next to the existing basin. The vintage round mirror from the ‘old’ Lazari has been recycled in the bathroom and compliments all the new finishes and colours perfectly.

With renovating any existing space, one is often confronted with structural elements that need to remain intact. One such element in Lazari is a column carrying a concrete beam overhead. “I introduced another fake column next to the existing column and clad the space between the two with tinted mirror. We also added floating shelves to display an array of objet,” says Hanno.

The team also used the void behind the banquette seating, in front of the two columns, to create a planter filled with natural mini Baby’s Breath and used concealed led strip lights to highlight this element. Hanno is a firm believer in ‘greenifying’ spaces wherever possible, and introduced four freestanding pots with greenery from Fohla.

“At the end of the day I wanted Lazari to look fresh, lively and inviting,” says Hanno. “And with a very tight deadline, I think we achieved that”.  

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