Interior designer & partner open Sydney's Manly Beach 'The Nook'. Taylor shares her magical secrets to opening a successful cafe/bar.

Interior designer & partner open Sydney's Manly Beach 'The Nook'. Taylor shares her magical secrets to opening a successful cafe/bar.

Combining her love for beautiful interiors, great food, and ocean air. Taylor Heywood and her partner in crime Harrison Maher dared to dream big and open their own bar 'The Nook' in one of Australia's favourite spots, Manly Beach. In such a popular area, success was a struggle. Long nights to many coffees and drowning in a sea of colour swatches 'The Nook' managed to become a bustling success!

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How do you take your coffee?

Black filter coffee or a soy flat white when I feel like something a little sweeter


What does a typical day look like to you?

Getting up just before sunrise, walking along the ocean and waking up slowly with a coffee, followed by getting ready for work. I work in a  boutique design firm in the city so after my drive in (usually listening to a podcast or my latest music craze) Ill do client meetings and site visits as well as work through concepts, design documentation, and council submissions- all in a days work. If I leave work early enough I will try and squeeze in a yin yoga class to stretch out closely followed by a glass of wine at home with some Rodriguez or B.B King.


Tell us about Taylor Made Studio?

A strong interest in the creative world has led me to the design industry, working in lead designer roles based in Sydney.

Interior design has always been a huge part of my life. We depend on our surroundings obliquely to embody the moods and ideas we have, for these spaces to continually inspire and develop us.

I tend to design as storytelling; A vision of a home, hotel or restaurant brought to life by creating an evocative story through colours, textures, patterns, and forms which are full of beauty, adventure, and soul. The process begins in a concept made up as a visual flick book (like a story of the mood, vision, brand identity, graphics, lighting, furniture, crockery & cutlery down to the uniform) for the client to help them to envision the space. The spacial planning, drafting documentation and design detailing is closely followed to bring the vision to life, along with an accompanying selection of furniture, fixtures, and finishes.

Working on projects that are a unique exploration of curiosity and experimentation, drawing inspiration from all forms of design and nature.


What's your go-to remedy when you're stuck in a creative rut?

I look for inspiration everywhere. I tend to draw inspiration from arts and culture, architecture, books, films, music & lyrics, fashion, graphics, travel, free thinkers and people who follow their passions, my incredible group of family and friends who are always providing endless inspiration and insight, the romance of nature and scents. Ultimately always stimulated by sensibility behind designing a space. For so much of what we feel or sense, constitutes comfort and the notion of identity, rooted in our primal instincts.

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How did The Nook dream begin?

The dream has always been there for Harry. He has a strong hospitality background and our worlds collided in the hospitality game. It is just fitting that I specialize in hospitality interiors. Harrison & Kieran, the owners of The Nook wanted to bring something new to what the offering was in the area and nothing is as simple yet satisfying as a well-crafted sandwich. The vision for creative gourmet sandwiches served with a fresh cocktail and range of creative sides was born and the vision for The Nook became a take on a modern New York deli with the romance of the old American diners. Classic New York swagger with Australian style experimentation.


What were some of your startup struggles?

It all happened very quickly so we were thrown right into the deep end, this meant working through the day and night, even if that meant applying fresco paint in the early hours of the morning. We were very lucky to be surrounded by family and friends who came flying out to help. Another aspect was, you feel very vulnerable opening the doors to the public and awaiting their feedback to a vision we have created.


Juggling a design studio and opening a restaurant, How do you find the time?!

Working after work hours in the restaurant and on weekends. It helped if we had music playing and a glass of wine to unwind and just dance our way through the renovation


The style choice of The Nook's interiors is beautifully unique, what brought you to this choice?

The style for The Nook space was drawn from the rich culinary heritage of New York. This particular project was a unique exploration of curiosity and experimentation. In designing the space the mood was drawn from the rich culinary heritage of NYC with a touch of romance you can find in the back street cafes of Paris. There are specialty finishes taking shape throughout the venue, from the New York classic marble set against mild steel to its aged 12 krt white gold mirrors, layered fresco paint, thin-lined glass, Brooklyn mosaic floor tiles & ribbed cedar-wood panels. Quirky prints on the wall reference American cult cinema classics & a neon-emblazoned bare brick wall is a cheeky nod to New York’s Hip Hop roots where glamour & grunge seamlessly meet.


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How was lighting important to the interiors?

The lighting has to be one of the most important features in any interior to set the mood. The transition from day to night was crucial for the venue as the ambiance set through the day should be sun-soaked and fresh, with the evening transition being one of a cozy soul, set off with a neon-emblazoned bare brick wall to recreate an authentic New York city vibe. The evening vibe is completely different from the day and it has everything to do with the lighting.

We have used dimmable LED lights under the bar downturn to subtly wash over the bar front and floors, warm white bunker globes to the wall, warm white ball pendants over the tables, and ambient table lamps to bring home the overall Nook mood.


What has been the most rewarding part of opening The Nook?

Watching people enjoy and experience the space. This is always the most rewarding part of designing hospitality spaces as you can experience the human user at the center of the experience. Design for me is always more than the ways things look, it's about making sure the human experience is prioritized when we build and create. All senses have to be considered carefully. We want our public space to feel more human, more habitable and familiar, the kind of place people want to come back to over and over again, in different settings. This is the main challenge for me as the interior designer.


One thing opening your own restaurant has taught you about life? 

We have so much to learn, the restaurant business will teach us more about consumers than anything else. Another important lesson is kindness goes further than you may think.


Photography by: Ryan Linnegar


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Olivia Lord
Creative Director | Lighting Collective

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