Bistro Beauty

Find European charm in vibrant colors and graphics for the table.

French cafe

The plat du jour on the wall, the bistro china on the table. The French café look is unmistakable, and with little effort it’s possible to get the look at home. This vignette of vintage café accessories found at Chicago’s P.O.S.H. shows how easy and classic the look is.

“These vintage items have a romance about them,” owner Karl Sorensen says. “They have stories to be told, which defines their novelty and uniqueness.” To get the look, simply mix vintage glassware with European-inspired serveware, add a dash of primary colors and you’ve got the perfect recipe for sidewalk café style. For an easy way to get the look, consider these ingredients:


The classic element here is the rattan bistro chair. Traditionally made out of rattan and Rilsan, a natural plastic-like material derived from castor oil, the quality and authenticity is hard to beat—and hard to find. Specialty manufacturers like Maison Gatti still make them the traditional way in France, and they can be ordered through U.S. retailers like Annick de Lorme. However, they often come with hefty price tags. Consider finding manufacturers that reproduce the style with budget-friendly materials, such as Wicker Warehouse, which sells their Stackable Belaire Resin Café Chair for $110, compared to the Maison Gatti version that retails for $685. You could also get a similar look with wrought-iron patio chairs paired with seat cushions in similar patterns.

The Table
By using simple gingham check or picnic cloth, as seen here, the right linens can transform any table. Reuse a small round table from the living room or garden, or salvage a simple side table that may have a scratched surface—just keep it small to keep it authentic.

Find a vintage café menu board or make your own with plywood, a little creative routing and blackboard paint. Inscribe it with a whimsical menu or even an inspirational quote.

Keep it simple and hearty with stoneware dishes and pressed-glass tumblers. “Add some café au lait bowls or
covered dishes to a plain white dinner set for a European feel,” Karl says. Look for pieces with graphics such as a restaurant name or brand name to add charm and vibrant color.

613 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 280-1602 •

By Jickie Torres
Photography by Jacqueline deMontravel

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