Graham Baba Architects transformed former sawmill into open-plan industrial restaurant

Graham Baba Architects transformed former sawmill into open-plan industrial restaurant

Sawyer is a relaxed new American restaurant and bar located in the center of Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. The interior of this venue, designed for family style sharing, was completed by Seattle architecture firm Graham Baba Architects

“The goal was to remake the large, 4,700-square-foot space into a contemporary restaurant. The design emphasizes the patron’s dining experience. The bar, which had previously dominated the space, was relocated in order to let the dining area take center stage. Relocating the bar also opened up a large bank of west-facing industrial-style windows, further enhancing the customer experience by providing ample daylight and territorial views. Cozy large-scale built-in booths and banquettes beneath the windows, create intimacy, and a sense that each seat is considered the ‘best seat’ in the house. Mindful of budget, existing surfaces were refreshed or revived when possible. For example, existing fir floors and the exposed wood ceiling were simply cleaned to provide an underlying warmth, and to showcase their natural, hard-won patina. To visually simplify the space, walls are painted off-white or white washed, resulting in a bright, contemporary aesthetic. The bar features a solid ash top with locally-crafted cement tiles on the base. With the customer’s experience paramount, lighting fixture selection was an extremely important decision. Custom fixtures were designed by local artists to ensure intimacy amongst the patrons, and L-shaped powder coated fixtures illuminate each booth and table to provide warm, ambient light. The kitchen was opened up to the dining room to reinforce the connection between food preparation and the dining experience. A four season patio is accessed via roll-up garage-style doors. Along with receiving updated appliances and lighting, a fifteen-foot stainless steel chef’s island was added so patrons can view the preparation of their meal,” explained Graham Baba Architects

Entrance area
Industrial-style windows


High tables
Detail of tiles

Built-in booths

Communal tables

Bench seating