Pre-pandemic, my dear friends asked me to renovate their kitchen! They've lived in their victorian-era home in the South End for a decade or so, and each year they worked slowly toward upgrading and personalizing its style. I had the joy of working with them on their front entrance, double parlour and dining room. The kitchen would complete the main floor.
There is something wonderful -- and at the same time a trifle daunting -- about creating spaces for close friends. In many ways it's easy because you know them so well. On the other hand, the pressure to please is enormous!
Although I adore them both, when creating this space I was especially cognizant of her love of two things: travel (particularly the Mediterranean) and shiny blue glass! We've been fortunate enough to travel together over the years, and her all-time-favourite thing is travel: when she's not travelling, she's online planning her next trip!
As with any room makeover, before we choose the actual materials and 'fun bits', we want to make the space functional. In this kitchen we switched the location of the fridge from the left side to make room for a side-by-side on the right. Also, turning the small island into a peninsula actually made more room! We also wanted to bring more light into the space, both task lighting and decorative. The floors also needed to be updated! (Our client donated their old kitchen cabinetry to Habitat for Humanity /Restore Saint John.)
I knew from the get-go that I wanted to incorporate these incredible handmade tiles from British ceramist, Boris Aldridge (in collaboration with clé tile). The collection, called Elements, is comprised of hand-formed hex-shaped stone tiles in seven colours inspired by nature. Each of the 4" tiles are either solid ceramic or filled with either turquoise or white crushed glass that, when melted and cooled, possesses a crackled effect. Aldridge mixes his own glazes, brushing each tile with several layers of color to achieve a painterly effect of depth and complexity.
In other words, this backsplash comprised of what are essentially works of art would be the springboard for the rest of the kitchen around these. And really, could there by any other colours more closely associated with the Mediterranean?
When Wayne McLuskey - our ever-patient and fastidious go-to-guy for tile - arrived, I laid all the tiles out on the counter. Then, one by one, I passed each tile to Wayne in the exact location that I thought they should go. My vision was to create a nod to the shape of mountains (Olympus anyone?) and also to create an effect less structured than regular backsplashes. Thus the randomness of 'floating' tiles that are removed from the connecting ones below.
The Kitchen Reveal
The finished result is a hybrid of white upper cabinetry anchored by blue cabinetry below. Once paired with the warm birch peninsula and the 'jewel' tiles, this kitchen design is complete!
Rather than opting for three single pendants over the peninsula, we went with a more dramatic single chandelier-like light to create more of a focal point and sense of understated drama. (Light available through Tuck.)
The Powder Room!
We didn't pass on the opportunity to upgrade the cutest powder room just off the kitchen! Using the same materials from the kitchen, we repeated the blue cabinetry, added a few extra tiles and some of the live-edge birch. And to top it off, a few brass-finish lights, hardware and local goodies from Tuck! I was particularly drawn to the "Greek Key" wall laminate by Jonathan Adler. It was made for this project!
As always, we are so grateful to have the opportunity to work with clients who love colour and trust the process! I can't say thank you enough to my friends + incredible clients for this opportunity. A massive 'shout out' to the wonderful skill of the cabinetry of Christoph Malinowski from CM Woodcraft. His attention to detail and function is next level. Thank you also to Kelly Lawson for the beautiful photography!
If you have any questions on any of the products that you see here feel free to reach out to us here at TUCK via email!