Restaurant Design | ORAPAX

Over a year ago, I met with Nick Seretis and his daughter Nicole about their plans to update the design of their historic Norfolk restaurant, Orapax. Without going into too much detail, they had previously met with another designer and just wanted a second opinion…and thank the Lord we met.

As Nick was walking me through these renovation plans and renderings, I was getting more and more internally worked up trying to hold my tongue. Once Nick finished his run-down on the design, I hesitantly looked him in the eye and slowly said “I am taking a chance here and you’re either going to love what i’m going to say or you will kick me out….but WHY!!!” I went on to rant about how I didn’t feel the new design represented their brand AT ALL (there I go with branding again…) or their history as a family owned business. They were about to spend a crap load of money where it didn’t need to be spent. Nick looked at me with wide eyes and, in true Nick fashion, said “Realllllly? Explain.” So, I did.

The building itself is a landmark on the corner of Redgate and Orapax. Everyone familiar with the area knows the building and the business relies on its repeat customers since it is tucked back in the Chelsea district. I told him that drastically changing the exterior to the modern design that was presented to him was just not necessary and may even deter some of his older loyal customers. I ran through what I would do with the exterior to make the building true to the Greek mediterranean style of the building and business while also adding the indoor/outdoor feel he was after. Here is a before and after of the exterior.

All the exterior windows were updated and feature a bronze panel trim so we painted the outside window trim “bronze” and then followed that color into the terra cotta roof. I told him to paint EVERYTHING else white (like the buildings in Mykanos). The underside of the awning roof and the planter boxes are made of the same wood, similar to the wood on the inside of the building.

The addition was built over the previous patio. It has telescoping windows so it still feels like you’re dining outside, only without getting a sweaty sunburn.

And now moving inside…

When we did demo on the existing building, we uncovered a brick wall…and duh, it stayed (you would have to be crazy to cover that back up). These Pottery Barn Kids light fixtures were the perfect size and color-despite being from a kid’s decor store (?!).

Inside the foyer features an old image of the original founders of the restaurant, Nick’s parents! Eventually there will be benches and this will serve as the waiting area.

As you walk through the foyer, you come to what is now the bar. Orapax didn’t have a bar before…it was another strangely laid out dining area. Here is the picture of before.

..and now they have not one, but TWO beautiful bars! One large one inside and another in the indoor/outdoor dining area.


The backsplash to the bar was obviously chosen for it’s Grecian style influence, and I also added some “hand-painted” (looking….) tile to the front of the bar.

The countertops were done by my guys at Quality Stone Concepts and edged in wood.

The concrete-look perforated light fixtures are from Shades of Light.

Through the bar (and connected to the bar when the window wall is open) is the new indoor/outdoor dining area. It has its own separate entrance and a private bar…and can actually be rented out!

The rattan ceilings are quintessential mediterranean style and I love them.

Inside the foyer to the right, partially separated from the more energetic bar atmosphere, is the traditional dining area. Here is a before picture of the area, which was pretty dark and dull before.

In here, we updated the decor, added a new wainscot, painted, changed light fixtures, and built in banquette style seating. Nick has also promised to update the chairs at some point…right, Nick!?

The new banquette offers some varied seating and really anchors the layout in contrast to having all floating tables.

Here’s a picture of Nick and Nicole, the proud owners of this newly renovated restaurant! Thanks so much for believing in me enough to completely abandon months of work and planning-I think it all paid off in the end! Huge shout out to Nick’s brother Jimmy, the GC for making it all happen. Thanks to all of you for reading through to the end…now GO TO ORAPAX!!