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Circle of Fire

Rocksalt Bar and Grill is perfectly located, nestled between the beach and the city of Wollongong on NSW’s South Coast. A key feature is the floor to ceiling windows, allowing patrons to take in the breathtaking ocean views.

With new owners, this quintessential beach restaurant and bar was to be given a facelift. It was the opportunity to create a space that was warm and welcoming in winter as well as in summer; a venue that was open and spacious, while being intimate.

“It was a space that would embrace seemingly contradictory elements. I was excited to create a restaurant that’s inspired by the beach vista, but not dictated by it,” says Jill Barker, owner of Colour Counsel and interior designer for the restaurant.

Outside the square One of the biggest challenges in redesigning the restaurant was the large supporting beam (column) offset from the centre of the restaurant.

“Because of the beam’s location, it created a disproportionate look. We had to either try and hide it or incorporate it into the design. We chose the latter and a ‘chimney’ was born,” says Jill.

To transform the column, Jill chose four EcoSmart XL500 burners because of their elongated flames, which worked perfectly in a room of oversized dimensions. The burners were installed in a circular fashion in a 20mm thick CaesarStone plinth, which in turn sits on a round steel frame and base.

Four elegant ‘Duo’ curved fire screens were then fitted around each burner, providing an uncompromising view of the flame and also enhancing the safety of operating an open fireplace in a public environment. To further accentuate the flames’ reflection, reflective material was used for the column, creating a distinctive feature which can be seen from most parts of the bar and restaurant.

“The concept of a living flame in the centre of the restaurant creating a beautiful focal point became integral to my design. A flickering light shining through the windows creates the perfect gathering point for those inside and a welcoming sight for those outside,” says Jill.

Beach influence
“I didn’t want to create the classic beachside restaurant, but something that was more glamorous and textual; the EcoSmart Fire became fundamental to this concept,” Jill adds.

Alongside the Fire, Jill incorporated some principle elements of the coastline and ocean into the design, with the large serving area in the restaurant hand painted gold, bringing the colours of the beach and the sparkle of the water into the room.

“Expiration breeds inspiration, and the obscure supporting beam became a feature of the restaurant that created a beautiful focal point – the wow factor – as well as generated a warm, cosy environment in winter.”

JILL BARKER, INTERIOR DESIGNER