A Midcentury Modern Before + After
Tasked with not one but two kitchens for a midcentury duplex remodel, design firm Taylor + Taylor lets color take center stage for a timelessly modern revival. We caught up with Taylor + Taylor founders and real-life husband-and-wife duo, Jess and Jonathan Taylor to learn more about their Silver Lake duplex project featuring our mid century modern kitchen tile. Keep scrolling for our full interview!
Meet Jess + Jonathan!
Jess + Jonathan Taylor of Taylor + Taylor Co
Who is Taylor + Taylor? What types of projects do you work on?
Taylor + Taylor is a husband and wife owned design firm based in Los Angeles. We
(Jess + Jonathan Taylor) work on mostly residential projects with the occasional creative
commercial project. Being in LA, most of our clients are creative professionals—
actresses, musicians, Hollywood writers + producers, film composers—who bring their
creativity and uniqueness into the initial vision for a project. Some of the tall orders
we’ve gotten from clients include: “a blend of rugged Ibiza and industrial Brooklyn”, “a
little 60s Algeria, a little Georgia O’Keefe’s adobe home, and a little French modern” and
“a Japanese modern at home in a 1920s craftsman." Left to our own, our style veers
towards an earthy modernism — the unifying of worn and clean elements. All of our
projects reveal this approach.
How did you hear about Fireclay Tile? What are some of your favorite products?
Who hasn’t heard of Fireclay Tile? We fell in love over the last handful of years and look
forward to incorporating their tiles at the start of our new projects. We try to find an
excuse to use a tile we’ve never installed before — this Silverlake Duplex project was
the perfect opportunity to use one those tile colors (Mustard Seed!) that requires a client
who appreciates a colorful pop.
What are your 3 best design tips?
We often tell our clients:
1 - Don’t let genres constrain you
2 - Some trends are unavoidable, but avoid trends as much as possible
3 - Begin with what you love and build from there
Fun fact about yourselves?
Most nights after dinner we have a dance party with our three-year-old twin boys that
includes “Eye of the Tiger,” our boys’ favorite song. Another of their favorite songs is
“Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”
Tell us more About the Silverlake Duplex-- How did you get involved in this project?
Our clients purchased this home and contacted us while still in escrow. The property
had not been touched since it was built in 1979. The original orange carpet had browned over the years and reeked. The walls were yellowed, had random patches, and hadn’t been painted in many years. Our clients knew they had to completely renovate before anyone could live in the spaces.
Hunter Green Kitchen, before:
How involved were your clients in the design/build process?
We met weekly with our clients as we pulled together the designs and materials for
each space. They fully trusted us along the way which made for a fluid and creative
project. The clients didn’t want to replicate something they simply stumbled upon online
somewhere; they wanted an approach that was unique to the bones of the mid-century
home and the neighborhood it is in. We were involved from escrow until the end of
construction—meeting regularly with the clients and contractor across the six month
Hunter Green Kitchen, in progress:
What's important to you when designing residential spaces?
We value creating a space that truly reflects our client’s personality. If more than one
person is living in the space (which is often the case), we work really hard to incorporate both individuals and their tastes. It often means blending genres and styles from opposing ends, but it ends up having more character (and the challenge is honestly much more thrilling as a designer). As designers, our goal is to create a spaces that are accessible and inspiring, warm and playful, abounding in personality and filled with finishes that will get better with wear.
Hunter Green Kitchen, after:
What were the most challenging aspects you faced when you took this project on?
This duplex was the most cringe-worthy space we’ve ever worked on—nothing had been touched in 40 years. The curtains were caked in dust, the carpet was brown and had pet stains everywhere, and the ceilings had everyone’s favorite popcorn application. The kitchens were the most challenging as their original layouts closed them off to the rest of the house and didn’t let any natural light in.
One of the units had a powder room in the same space as the laundry, and it opened up onto the main dining area — the challenge was re-designing the layout of that area without moving structural posts as it was on the bottom floor and would have been costly for a rental. Our clients also quickly decided to rent out both of the main units instead of living in one and renting the other, so our focus shifted to figuring out the most unique approach in design that was also accessible to as many potential renters as possible. We pushed boundaries a bit with using the Mustard Seed tile from Fireclay but ultimately decided on it because it played off the other green tones incorporated through the spaces. We’re thrilled with how both kitchens came out and the Mustard Seed wound up being everyone’s favorite.
Mustard Seed Kitchen, before:
Mustard Seed Kitchen, in progress:
Mustard Seed Kitchen, after:
What type of look or aesthetic were you going for? How did you come up with yourcolor scheme and design?
We weren’t going to demo the entire house and start from the ground up, so our goal was to design a space that was playfully modern within a house built in the 70s. We like to avoid using ‘mid-century modern’ as a descriptor because it can be interpreted in so many different ways, but we wanted to bring a fresh outlook on the original mid-century architecture of the home. It needed to feel accessible to a wide variety of renters while also having personality and draw. For us, green often works as a neutral color and we wanted to bring in a variety of green tones (hence using both the Hunter Green and the Mustard Seed tiles from Fireclay). Once we determined our base color, we quickly found other materials that played well (stunning terrazzo tiles with speckles of pink and green), maple marine ply cabinets, modern pops of white on plumbing finishes, and natural maple floors.
We love the vertical stack of the tiles in both kitchens -- how did you come to that design choice?
Once we honed in on the overall aesthetic approach to the space, we knew Fireclay was going to be the best option for tile in the kitchens. We love the notion of bringing custom and handmade into all aspects of our projects, and Fireclay is such a fun way to accomplish that. Since Fireclay has so many color + shape combinations to choose from, it only made sense to introduce bring them onto this project. The vertical straight stack approach to both kitchens (and baths) was our way of modernizing the brick tile. The vertical run makes both kitchen spaces feel taller and continues to draw the eyes upward; the straight-stack (v. offset) felt cleaner and more modern.
How did the installation process go?
In the Mustard Seed kitchen, we had to design the space while trying to incorporate all necessary appliances. We were limited because of an existing foundation wall, upstairs plumbing locations and structural implications of being a two-story. Because of this, we had to get creative with cabinetry spacing and placement—it’s a rather small footprint for a full kitchen. It also meant that impacted the backsplash height and layout. We found ourselves having to problem-solve on the job with how to accomplish as many full tiles as possible and not having too many small pieces. The placement of the existing window opening meant our vertical straight stack layout was going to be cut really short behind the sink and look awkward. So, we did some last minute math with our tile installer, adjusted spacing to get the full tiles we needed and then decided to switch direction on the tiles surrounding the window to run horizontal and wrap onto the sill. It ended up being one of our favorite tile applications on the entire project.
What was one of your biggest challenges?
We faced the challenge of finding the right finish for the maple ply cabinets so that the warmth of the maple didn’t stray into yellows with a clear coat. It was important to us to let the yellows of the Mustard Seed pop without having a yellow hue to the cabinets themselves. Even clear coat on wood can be a critical decision in balancing finishes within a space.
What Fireclay products are you dying to use in future projects?
We still really want to use Fireclay’s glass tile! Ultimately, we didn’t feel it was the best fit
for this space but we’re already dreaming of different projects to incorporate it into...
Why do you love tile?
Tile should be every designer’s best friend—it introduces texture and dimension,
provides function and form simultaneously, and reveals personality.
Need some help on your own project? Simply call, chat or fill out our Design Assistance Form and one of our talented Design Consultants will get back to you shortly.