Sarah Semple Brown, Semple Brown Design

Design Insights on Tom's Urban 24. Read the complete profile

Warmth: Diner décor is often fairly cold and stark, but we moved away from that by selecting materials that are warm. For example, unlike a diner, which might have tile floors, we used pre-engineered oak hardwood floors to warm up the space. Tabletops use warm wood as well, and we used what’s called “beetle kill” wood on some wall surfaces and to line the bar. There’s an epidemic in Colorado forests of beetles killing pine trees, so much of that wood is being repurposed into what everyone’s calling beetle kill wood. It’s also called denim wood because it has a little bit of blue in it, giving it a very distinctive look. The exposed brick wall also helps to add warmth to the space.

Art: The main art feature, besides the windows and architectural details, is a large mural painted by a local artist named Tracy Weil. It’s a stylized acrylic-on-metal map of Colorado that also highlights the locations of some of the local farms that supply the restaurant. Beyond that, we didn’t do a lot of decorative artwork. With the mural, the brick wall and the beetle kill wood, we felt we didn’t need to.

Expansion: The people with Tom’s are savvy restaurateurs who understand the market very well and what’s lacking. Their overall goal was to create a space that has a lot of good energy and is fun and has quality to it. Ultimately, it has a theme, a certain quality that’s not too Disneyland. This is an iconic Denver location, but the design would carry over well and can be localized to other markets.