With the help of cutting-edge interior design firm Whitehead and Appel, a Maryland-based McDonald’s franchise owner is pioneering a new interior design approach for the fast-food chain.

The thoroughly modern makeover, designed to transform the store in Pikesville from ugly to amazing and from stodgy to stylish, was Wednesday, November 19, 2008.

According to McDonald’s franchisee owners Bob and Barbara Houck, the re-design of the Pikesville store may be considered a model for other McDonald’s nationwide. “We hope the Whitehead and Appel design will expand the trend toward a fresh, sophisticated look for the chain,” Barbara says. “Our goal was to create a warm and inviting store that is accessible to all members of the community.”

To create that warm, sophisticated dining experience, Whitehead & Appel developed a contemporary, nature-inspired look that showcases natural textures and materials such as rattan, shell, and stone. Highlights of the new décor include custom furniture, limestone countertops, colorful lighting fixtures, signed, limited edition art, and flat screen televisions.

Another highlight of the trend-setting design is a flexible layout that offers a comfortable niche for customers of every age and interest. Teens can gather on high top stools, while seniors can linger in an alcove geared to socializing and catching up on the latest news. “Our hope is that this McDonald’s is appealing to the community, that it is a place they can be proud of,” says Barbara Houck.

No one is more proud of the new restaurant than Steve Appel, co-owner of Whitehead and Appel Interior Design and its affiliate store, Nouveau Contemporary Goods. Appel and his designer, Bill Goudelok, spent more than five months on the commercial project, the first of its kind for the Baltimore-based business. The duo worked hand-in-hand with McDonald’s corporate design firm to find innovative solutions and products that worked within the parameters of company guidelines.

According to Appel, the McDonald’s project was fascinating because it had multiple goals–create a beautiful, contemporary, and fresh environment, make it accessible for the community and enable it to withstand the test of time. “We purposely brought in upscale furnishings of different heights and shapes to animate the space, used an earth-toned color scheme to create a sense of warmth, and selected products with sustainability and durability in mind,” Appel says. “It was a tremendous opportunity to think outside the box and, yes, beyond the golden arches.”

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