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From “Teller’s” to “Merchant’s”: A Lawrence, Kansas Landmark Restaurant Gets A Face Lift (Part I)

A few months ago KHL got a call from the new owners of Teller’s, a restaurant located  in the college town mecca of Lawrence Kansas, requesting a makeover of the long standing American bistro.  Located in the middle of downtown Lawrence’s thriving entertainment & shopping district on the corner of 8th & Mass, Teller’s originally opened in 1992, occupying the cavernous space of a bank first built in 1889.  Since then, the restaurant has made a name for itself as one of the town’s best restaurants and has upheld its shining culinary reputation throughout the years.  Now under new ownership, it is undergoing a complete overhaul as far as the food and feel goes, with the use of local foods and produce.  Now closed for the summer, the restaurant will begin its transformation from “Teller’s” to “Merchant’.s” KHL was the lucky design firm chosen for the job.

Below are some before pictures of what we had to work with:

Overall shot: as you can see the interior is seriously dated.

old overall

Shot of the bar area:

old bar

This oddly shaped half-wall will be changing.

old island

The plan was to go for a modern-rustic look. Keep the integrity of the building but bring it into this century.  So, not wanting to spend an exorbitant amount of money, Kelly searched for ways that would update the look without braking the bank.  And nothing is more cost effective than a fresh coat of paint.  The building’s bones were stunning enough, with its thick crown molding and tall arched windows. It was decided that the structure itself would not be changed in order to save for a few minor alterations on the “island” shown above.  The main focus was changing the overall color palette and bar area as far as the mural and shelving were concerned.   The overall inspiration of the project came from this image.



We absolutely loved the ombre effect of this wall and thought it would look amazing behind the focal point of the restaurant… the bar.  However, the colors would be different than in the above picture.  Overall field colors of the space would consist of 2 shades of grey, with a pop of orange in spaces like the vestibule (which just got through being painted… see below).

Field colors:


 Below are the colors that will be used in the “ombre” mural behind the bar area.


Here is a rough concept sketch:


A detail of how paint colors will be layed out


In keeping with the modern rustic look, we decided on custom wood plank and pipe shelving units behind the bar for liquor storage, similar to this one from Restoration Hardware.

Elevation of custom shelving:


And below is the final elevation of how the shelves will be layed out along the wall behind the bar.  The existing wainscot will feature a series of 3’x4′ art pieces and will be painted over in the ombre mural.


Next came the issue of the odd shaped half wall that one approaches upon first entering the restaurant.  Instead of tearing it out completely, we decided to alter it by cutting off the tall part of the wall into a pillar to be just a few inches above the top of the wall, and placing an interesting vase on it acting as a display pedestal.  The rest of the wall will be topped with various sized candles and mason jars.  Below are a few ideas on how to go about that.

Idea #1: Arrangement of vases with single row of mason jars.

merchants island 5

Idea #2: One large arrangement with various sizes of jars and candles.

merchants island 3

We still haven not finalized which way to go on the half wall, but we are sure either way would look fantastic.

The project is now underway and the expected opening date is set for some time in September.  Below is a picture of the new grays starting to go on the ceiling and walls. Goodbye 90’s purple!

new color

So far this is the only thing I’ve seen completed – the painting of the entry vestibule… and it looks AMAZING in that cayenne pepper paint color!

merchants vestibule

Now all we need is a fabulous light fixture!

As the project progresses, I will continue to post pictures and updates. Hopefully when it’s done there will be an awesome grand opening party!

All photos courtesy KHL Design Studio

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KHL Design Studio, LLC

Commercial & Residential Design

telephone: (816) 585-4569 · fax: (866) 349-0849 · 12 SW 3rd Street, Lee's Summit, Missouri 64063

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