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In Storybook Dundas, Mjölk Redesigns a Cozy Cafe

Five questions for Mjölk about their recent redo of a bustling neighbourhood spot just outside the city

By Sara Cunningham

On a recent hike in Dundas, Ontario, I had a Disney moment. A black-capped chickadee songbird landed in the palm of my outstretched hand, looking for sunflower seeds. After a day spent marvelling at historic Victorian homes, including an impressive smattering of original stone houses, becoming a human bird feeder felt like a message from the universe: This would never happen in Toronto.

Luckily, the pleasures of Dundas are only an hour away by car. There’s a waterfall, butterfly garden and bountiful nature to explore, not to mention the charming 19th-century facades that line King Street W downtown. And now there’s another reason to visit the storybook town: a recently redesigned cafe by Mjölk founders Juli and John Baker.

Located across the street from Carnegie Gallery, an artist-run gallery and gift shop housed in a 1910 former public library building, Detour Cafe’s fresh interior nods to its picturesque setting with sage green paint, vintage cane chairs and a bevy of treats – like Scandinavian-inspired open-faced sandwiches and killer java – all served across an antique oak counter.

We caught up with John Baker to learn more about the project.

How did you end up redesigning a cafe in Dundas, ON?
We’re lucky because having our own retail store is our best resume. So it’s a very approachable place to come see our aesthetic and value system in person. Although we don’t actively look for interior design work, one of the owners of Detour is a good customer of ours, and when Detour’s cafe was ready to expand with a bakery and preserves collection we were contacted to freshen up the interior space.

How did you score those Josef Hoffman chairs from the Toronto Reference Library?
Those were an amazing find. They are from a vintage store in the Junction called Williams. It’s great to have some texture and history added to the space – actually many of the antiques used in the cafe were from our neighbourhood.

While the soft colour palette and metallic accents are on point for 2018, there’s also a turn-of-the-last-century, vintage feel to the space. What inspired you?

We were really inspired by the Detour building, and to a greater extent the city of Dundas which is very beautiful and full of historic buildings. We attempted to create a balance between the old and the new, hoping to trick people into thinking some of the period appointments are original to the space.

What did you change about the original interior? What stayed the same?
I think for everyone at Detour, the large antique oak counter was an important part of the original cafe, so we moved this to the back of the space to allow for more openness and seating in the front.

We wanted to bring back the feeling of plastered walls, so we used a lime based paint from Belgium (pure and original paint – which we sell) and carved an arch into the wall to host a tall panelled bench in a soft sage green. We also added beautiful opaline glass and copper pendant lights from Denmark. There are so many added touches, but it was really important that the space remained warm and inviting to the Detour customers.

Where else did you source product from?
We had a lot of fun sneaking in some of our favourite things: glass acorn vases, and trays from Swedish store Svenskt Tenn, Georg Jensen thermoses for cream and milk, candle holders from Denmark by Frama, and flowers and plants from Shop Flur.

Finally, what are your fave menu items?
I think we were total creatures of habit when we ate at Detour, I mean their coffee is incredible so we always start with a coffee and then we usually have the mac and cheese or the burger. Now with the introduction of a bakery the menu is going to be improved. Some very tasty things are on the horizon!

Detour Cafe
41 King St W, Dundas, Ontario
(289) 238-8360


Categories: DL Dispatch

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