Bar La Fête in Birmingham, Alabama – Have & Gun

Right down to its name, Birmingham’s Bar La Fête is an expression of celebration. “When we were thinking about what to call this project, we really wanted to create a place for people to celebrate,” says designer, pastry chef and Bar La Fête owner Kristen Hall. After Essential and Bandit Pâtisserie, Hall had been dreaming of her third project for years, but her visit to France finally gave life to the concept. “Our goal is to create stores that really transport people into different spaces and times,” she says. “I wanted to have my feet on French soil to really absorb as much of that energy as I could.”

The intimate Bar La Fête embraces Hall’s love of Parisian design and her travels across the country, building on her memories of historically rich and tiny local haunts. “When you think of croissants, you think of France. From a pastry perspective, my background laid a good foundation,” she says. “When I visited Paris, I loved walking into a room and knowing that it’s been there for hundreds of years and lived a thousand lives.”

photo: Caleb Chancey

Clicquot wine buckets flank cabin seats.

When she began curating the space, Hall centered the entire design concept around a square of House of Hackney floral wallpaper that she had hidden away in her purse for a year. The pattern attracted her with its bursting, sculptural pink peonies. “They are a sentimental flower for me,” she says. “They represent motherhood. I used to get a peony bush for many of my Mother’s Days. They are feathered and layered, wonderful and wild and untamed.” The sample developed into a bold, full-fledged wall at Bar La Fête. Pink and cream accents throughout the space, such as the thirty-foot curved Italian marble bar from Birmingham’s Cottage Supply Company, play off the colors of the print. Above the exterior entrance, an installation of peonies fan out toward the raft and brick exterior, a true embodiment of the sprawling tapestry within. For Hall, the rosy palette is all part of evoking the timeless romantic feeling she experienced in the City of Light.

photo: Caleb Chancey

Bar’s House of Hackney patterned wall; the exterior flower installation.

photo: Stacey Allen

The curved Italian marble bar.

Although Hall draws design inspiration from her travels, she turned to one of her favorite movies when curating the bathrooms, which she considers the soul of the bar. “When I go to a restaurant, it’s the bathroom that tells me what kind of place it is,” she says. For Bar La Fête’s bathrooms, Hall pulled vibrant, moody terrazzo tiles inspired by the deep yellows, blues and oranges she saw in Wes Anderson’s The French broadcast. Outside, occupied signs hang above the doors that light up when the rooms are in use. The light fixtures, which once belonged to ships at sea, sat in a dusty antique shop in New York until Hall picked them up. “It felt like they were part of the set from Anderson’s movie,” she says. “It’s been such a fun experience to use weird, quirky and weird vintage things that are unique.”

photo: Caleb Chancey

Hall used small terrazzo subway tiles in the bathrooms to contrast the wallpaper in the bar.

For the bar’s collection of antique picture frames and found art, Hall collected her own personal belongings, including vintage portraits and painterly still lifes she found while thrifting with her daughter. “Designing the space felt like a love letter to my future self,” she says. “I wanted it to be like you were visiting a family member with a magical house—not big or fancy—but it had interesting collections to talk about all the adventures.”

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The bar’s collection of artwork includes flowers and portraits in circular antique frames.

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