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From Abandoned Home to Community Anchor

Ada’s Technical Books and Café

An award-winning conversion of a rundown old house into a small retail shop with a café.

Ada Lovelace was a 19th Century writer, mathematician, pioneer, and the initial inspiration for Ada’s Technical Books and Café. The impetus for the project was to create the “book retailer of the future.” Achieving this vision required adaptive reuse, an addition, and a pioneering approach to the neighborhood bookstore.

Respecting the existing home and the character of the neighborhood, the clients wanted to retain as much of the old home as possible, while still providing a great retail environment with an integrated, comfortable, and inviting café space.

The challenge of converting a dilapidated single-story Craftsman home into a refurbished, small-scale mixed-use project delighted us.

Through careful design and planning, we were able to utilize over 60% of the original structure, and salvaged all of the existing framing lumber for key fixtures within the space.

Our clients were dedicated to creating a balance of the historic and modern, and are advocates for sustainable and forward thinking. We imagined the exterior of the building as an old book cover — familiar and comfortable — while on the inside, the pages are crisp, clean, and bright.

Contrasting reused building materials with high-gloss interior finishes ties the building to its mission of a brick-and-mortar store selling books on technology.

Rusted steel signage. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Laser cut steel signage. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by John G Wilbanks.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by John G Wilbanks.

Peek to the back café. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by John G Wilbanks.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by John G Wilbanks.

Sunny back patio. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by John G Wilbanks.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by John G Wilbanks.

Central aisle of the bookshop. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Bookshop and coffeeshop café. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Handmade mobile of book pages. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

LED details in room dividers. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Shadow box café tables in coffeeshop. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Items for sale in a café. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Café with mobile above. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Sculpture made of salvaged building materials. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by John G Wilbanks.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by John G Wilbanks.

Custom bookshelves. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Bookstore nook. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Partition made of salvaged doors. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Café register. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Bookstore bookshelves. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada's Technical Books & Café central aisle. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Salvaged doors as room divider. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

View to back reading room. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Shadow box café tables. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Coffee shop menus. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Shadow boxes as café tables. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Salvaged Wood Display Shelves – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Salvaged Wood Display Shelves at Entry – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Point of Sale – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Coffee Shop POS – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Decorative Art Mobile – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Tile Inlay at Entry – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by John G Wilbanks.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by John G Wilbanks.

Exterior Façade at Street – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by John G Wilbanks.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by John G Wilbanks.

View from street at dusk. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by Cindy Apple.

Outdoor café seating. – Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Retail Design – Board & Vellum
Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by John G Wilbanks.

Ada’s Technical Books & Café

Photo by John G Wilbanks.

Client Review
“Board & Vellum designed my retail store and did an absolutely amazing job! They were pleasant to work with, super creative, and affordable. I'm already working with them on my next project.”
View this review on Houzz.

B&V Project Team
Jeff Pelletier, AIA, CPHCPrincipal
Ryan Adanalian – Design Team
Matthew Hagen, AIA – Design Team

Notes & Credits
This project was built by Model Remodel.
Photos by Cindy Apple and John G Wilbanks Photography.

Want to learn more?

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Our services span architecture, interior design, and landscape architecture — from residential to commercial, large or small. Whether you are looking for a little help redesigning your kitchen, or need full integrated services for a multifamily development anchoring a vibrant neighborhood, we would love to team up with you to bring a project you love to life.

Portfolio

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