Overlooking the picturesque Tobermory harbour on the Isle of Mull, Macgochans restaurant and bar showcases the best of Inner Hebridean hospitality and is popular with the local community and holidaymakers alike.
Following a devastating fire in spring 2019, owner Neil Morrison asked Dominic Paul of IBDP Commercial Interior Design to restore and update the building so that it could rise phoenix-like from the ashes to regain its place as the vibrant hub of Tobermory.
The building started life as a fisherman’s cottage so Neil was keen to retain its Scottish charm with original features such as its stone walls and fireplaces but also to create a modern interior that would appeal to a young family audience. To cater for the busy summer tourist season, Neil was keen to expand the capacity of the venue with a larger open plan restaurant.
The new interior design creates a visual separation between the cosy bar area and the more contemporary restaurant space yet retains a sense of continuity with fresh natural materials and a neutral yet interesting colour palette. Opening up a double height atrium and building a new glass balcony on the upper floor has flooded the restaurant area with natural daylight and created space for additional outdoor seating.
The new two-storey restaurant features a contemporary take on traditional style with an airy colour scheme in off-white, duck egg blue and ochre. Painted panelling on the walls and serving bar bring the interior bang up-to-date while curved leather deep-buttoned banquettes in warm ochre link the modern look to the building’s historic past. Dining tables with co-ordinating chairs offer practical easy clean seating that can be moved as required, for example to comply with social distancing requirements or to cater for live music events.
In the upper storey, the structural metalwork has been left exposed and paired with industrial style feature lighting. Using two complementary LooseLay Longboard designs - Twilight Oak and Raven Oak - a random pattern herringbone floor balances the industrial starkness with warm wood tones and natural textures.
Meanwhile, in the bar area a more traditional look complements the exposed stone walls with dark wood panelling and classic brown leather seating, highlighted with copper and brass light fittings.
Completing the characterful interior, an eclectic mix of artwork connects the venue to the history of the island with shipping charts of the Sound of Mull and murals painted by Scottish artist Ranald MacColl.
Owner Neil Morrison explained: “We have used Karndean products in the past so we knew that the product would fit well with the space and could be used on both wooden and concrete flooring bases. It can get very busy here at times and surfaces take a bit of abuse so the loose lay option appealed to us as it’s easy to clean and small sections can be replaced if required.
“We wanted to make a feature out of the different areas with a separate look for each space so we used two designs of Karndean flooring between the restaurant and the bar to give us a good visual division. We chose a blend of lighter grey toned planks in a herringbone style in the restaurant with a darker brick bond fashion in the bar and these two styles have worked well together.
“The new Macgochans is much lighter and cleaner than the previous rough wood style and the practical surfaces mean that we can easily comply with Covid social distancing and cleaning requirements. Events such as the Mull Music Festival are a big part of our business so it’s really useful that the furnishings are flexible and can be simply rearranged as required.”
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