Melanie Coddington: We started with the tile, and that launched the color scheme. It's paprika and black on cream, hand-painted with a simple design — not too busy and not too plain. The client likes authentic materials, and it feels like something that could have been in this 1930s Mediterranean-style house originally.
But paprika on the cabinets — that's bold. Were you worried about how it would look?
Should I admit that? Yes, I was a little nervous. On the other hand, I knew the walls would be cream. And this client is fearless. She has lots of color all through the house, and she's comfortable with it. We added black as a point of contrast. It's strong, powerful, a nice grounding element in the room. The kitchen would have felt completely different without it.
It balances the brightness, but it also gives you something else…almost a sense of age.
That's true. One of the first things we bought was the La Cornue stove, which comes in all sorts of colors, but we chose black. It really makes a statement, and it also gives you the idea that it has been there forever. If it were bright, shiny stainless steel, it wouldn't have had the same effect.
I notice you hid the refrigerator behind painted panels.
We went back and forth on that. It's one of those large Sub-Zero fridges, and it just felt like a lot of stainless steel over there, especially next to the ovens.
The island is unusual. How did you come up with it?
We were looking for an interesting shape — open on the bottom for storage, and narrow so you could easily walk around it. I was playing with a few ideas on paper and just drew it up. It's got kind of a church pew feeling, doesn't it? I just happen to like the look of those Italian-style curves against the more rectilinear, Shaker-style cabinetry. The door panels are simple — no decorative molding. No fluting.
What's on top of the island?
Walnut. The cabinets in the breakfast area are topped with walnut as well. They don't get the same wear and tear as the countertops.
But an island gets a lot of use.
Here, she uses it more for setting things down, and she takes good care of it. The real work happens on the countertops, and those are made of concrete. We were looking for something that was oil- and water-resistant and wasn't going to stain every time you spill something. Concrete is a good, honest material, and it's a nice change from the usual granite or marble. You can also mix in a little color and get a lot of variation in the surface, so it doesn't have that super-uniform look. That would have felt too sleek and modern.
What about maintenance?
We had a special durable finish put on, so there's virtually no maintenance. It's like having a driveway in your kitchen.
There's a nice order to the space.
We worked really hard on getting all the proportions right. Some people would have hung another cabinet on the other side of the sink, but we didn't force it. The asymmetry turned out to be interesting. If you want something to feel timeless, it can't be too perfect.
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