© Cara Sandoval

Chef Noah Sandoval and general manager Cara Sandoval dish on how they designed the sleek yet minimal Oriole.

Elyse Inamine
January 05, 2017

Noah Sandoval didn’t look too far to find inspiration for Oriole, his 9-month-old, Michelin-starred restaurant in Chicago. Instead he and Cara Sandoval, his general manager and wife, modeled the restaurant after their own home.

“Our main goal when designing the space was to make it comfortable and modern, but we didn't want to over-design it,” says Noah. “We took a lot of inspiration from our own home, which I think shows who we are in the space.”

Here’s how the two went about putting together their buzzy restaurant, as told by Noah:

The Wall Art “The artwork here is a poster made by a local artist named Debbie Carlos. She makes large prints using a wide format plotter that creates the image with little plus signs. We had this hanging in our apartment for years and decided it would be right at home in the restaurant. We missed it, though, so we bought another to replace it.”

The Tables “The banquettes were custom made. We wanted them to almost look like a sofa. They have mid-century style legs that lift them pretty far off the floor; we like that you can see underneath them. It makes the space feel more airy and clean.”

The Lighting “The building was once a glue factory, so it has a lot of character. The ceilings are tall and made of beautiful wood, and we wanted to reinforce the feeling of height with these George Nelson lanterns. They're large and seem like they're floating above your head.”

The Plants “Bringing a bit of nature in was also important to us. So we placed fresh branches, flowers and potted plants throughout the restaurant—even in the kitchen.”

The End Tables “The branches are sitting on top of an end table made by our talented friend Alex Dunham. He makes custom furniture under the moniker Brokenpress Design+Fabrication. Alex has also built the beautiful shelving and passes in our open kitchen.”

The Paint Job “We thought a lot about treating the brick but decided to keep it natural and we're glad we did. Settling on a wall color that would complement the brick, though, was tough for us. There are a lot of different colors hiding under that final coat of paint. We finally decided on "Victorian Tapestry" by Valspar. Still, we're thinking about repainting.”

The Chairs “It isn't easy to find comfortable, durable dining chairs that are attractive and don't cost an absurd amount of money. But when you do find one, they're usually in ten other restaurants nearby. So we were lucky to find these after months of searching. We really wanted armchairs and for them to have a masculine, vintage feel. These completely meet the criteria.”