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Basic Kitchen: A Bright, Healthful Restaurant Comes to Charleston

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Basic Kitchen: A Bright, Healthful Restaurant Comes to Charleston

January 25, 2018

With their new restaurant Basic Kitchen, Kate and Ben Towill, the married creatives behind design and development company Basic Projects, are bringing something unique to downtown Charleston: a relaxed, all-day bistro-style cafe serving decidedly healthy “fuel.”

“We wanted to create a neighborhood place where locals and tourists could visit for a delicious, clean meal in a cheery environment,” Kate says. “Charleston has some unbelievable dining spots, but not enough with a casual, home-cooked vibe.”

The duo approached the project with three words in mind: “colorful, energizing, and essential.” They gutted the historic space, leaving only the fireplace as a compass while they worked from the floors up, painting the walls in a crisp white, anchoring the space with custom-made wood furniture, and accessorizing with characterful vintage pieces. “We wanted the interior to feel as bright and colorful as the dishes look and make you feel,” Kate says. Here’s a look.

Photography courtesy of Basic Kitchen.

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Above: The renovated space invites interaction with ample bar seating and an open floor plan. The walnut and maple bar features a bronze inlay; the diner stools are reproductions from American Chairs. The couple loves to mix old and new, evident in the vintage rattan table lamps on the bar and the contemporary fixtures from The Urban Electric Co., including their PopHarper, and Raval designs. 

Function was a priority for Kate and Ben, who worked in interior design and the restaurant business in New York before moving to Charleston (they co-own Remodelista favorites The Fat Radish in NYC and The Ferry Boat Inn in Cornwall, England). “Ben’s restaurant-operating background drove a lot of the practical design,” Kate says. “There are so many moving parts of a restaurant; we’re getting better with each one we design, but things always end up moving when it starts running. I’ve learned you have to be flexible.”

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Above: The tables and benches in the main dining room were custom made by local carpenter Ryan McKeirnan of RHM Woodworking.
aged leather banquette seating, custom made by a local car upholsterer, complem 11
Above: Aged leather banquette seating, custom-made by a local car upholsterer, complements the white walls. “I wanted the banquettes to feel like the seat of an old pickup truck with worn leather,” Kate says. The brass cylinder sconces are a custom design developed in collaboration with The Urban Electric Co.
an intimate corner with local papers and stools by the mine. the cushions  12
Above: An intimate corner with local papers and stools by The Mine. The cushions are upholstered in bright vintage fabrics that were inspired by a trip the couple took to Cuba in 2016.
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Above: Open shelving showcases bulk grains and other essentials. (For more on buying in bulk and decanting, see The Organized Pantry: 8 Rules for Decanting Dried Goods on the Organized Home.) The vintage Thonet chairs throughout the restaurant were sourced from eBay and Etsy.
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Above: Shades of blue are seen throughout the space, from this backsplash, clad in Tabarka Studio tiles, to the cabinet doors. “It’s an ongoing joke in our office that Ben and I are obsessed with blue. I suppose it’s one of my favorite colors,” Kate says.
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Above: A framed cyclist jersey lends a dose of wit (and is a nod to a cross-country bike ride Ben took part in several years ago, for which he raised money for Just Food; Kate joined him for a bulk of the way).
an egg and avocado dish on offer. the restaurant&#8\2\17;s motto (& 16
Above: An egg and avocado dish on offer. The restaurant’s motto (“cleaner fuel, longer adventures”) illustrates its healthy ethos.
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Above: The lush outdoor patio area features more seating and a space for the Towills to grow the citrus and herbs used in the menu’s dishes. This spring they plan to plant a hydroponic vegetable garden.
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Above: The space is packed with tropical plants.
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Above: Ben and Kate, outfitted in their signature blue.

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