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Designer Spotlights

Installation Stories: Galley Kitchen Goals

By Kali

Installation Stories: Galley Kitchen Goals

Bay Area Designer Kathryn MacDonald of KJM Interiors cleverly used tile to define three different zones in her kitchen renovation. With the help of our handpainted Kasbah Trellis and two colors of Subway tile, she created one very enviable space. Read on to learn more about this talented designer and to see more before and after images! 

Here's a bit about Kathryn: 

My style can be described as…casual, clean lined, and timeless. 

My design philosophy is…personal spaces should be a source of energy and inspiration.  There is always a way to make a space more unique, more functional, and more engaging for its residents!

I got my start…renovating my first home, which led to projects for friends and family, and onwards from there.

I find inspiration in…walking around my neighborhood.  There is such diverse architecture and natural beauty throughout the Bay Area.  I’m constantly interrupting a walk or pulling over on a drive to take photos of a striking home entry, a great window detail, or cool custom ironwork. 

My best design advice would be…push yourself to make one bold design choice in every space and build around it. 

Below is Kathryn's inspiration board for her kitchen: 

Image: Kathryn MacDonald 

How did you hear about Fireclay? Had you worked with us before? 
I had driven past the Fireclay showroom on my way into the SF Design Center countless times before I finally checked out the website and stopped in for a visit, and I was SO excited when I finally did.  Fireclay’s colors are simply beautiful, and the amazing array of shapes and incredible handpainted tiles are totally inspiring!

Can you tell me about the project?
This kitchen project was a part of major renovation of the home I share with my husband and daughter.  It’s a 1920’s Spanish Colonial Revival that had seen its share of unfortunate, stylistically inconstant renovations. I really wanted to not only improve the function and flow of the kitchen space, but bring back some design elements that related back the original style of the home.  I should also mention the demo started when I was 8 months pregnant, so I was making design decisions up until I left for the hospital. Nothing like an impending arrival to speed the design process along - absolutely no time for second guessing! 

Can you tell me about the space? What did it look like before? What did you change?
The space was a wide, galley-style kitchen with some unfortunate vertical breaks in the sight lines and a sad, disconnected wet bar and nook. 

Below is the nook area before: 

It underwent a renovation in the 90’s that resulted in too-high countertops, wonky cabinetry, appliances sitting on layers of plywood, and more recently, layer upon layer of bright white paint to hide the underlying beige. There was also a swinging restaurant-style door that connected it to a very formal dining room with a low, barrel vaulted ceiling. The wall had to go, and the dining room was relocated across the hall to make way for a unified kitchen and family space. 

What type of look or aesthetic were you going for?
Timeless, textured, with Mediterranean touches. 

I had my heart set on a cozy built in breakfast nook with sight lines straight through to the family room: 

Image: Keeney + Law 

Another favorite touch is an original light fixture we repurposed from another part of the house - it really warms up the space and helps balance the new elements. 

Here is the breakfast nook: 

Image: Keeney + Law 

How did you come up with your color scheme and design?
I wanted to keep the kitchen and breakfast nook relatively neutral and use the lighting, your gorgeous tile, and hardware with real patina to bring the visual interest. I chose three different tiles to define three separate zones in the kitchen - the bold Kasbah Trellis on the range wall, the creamy Tusk subway tile on the sink wall, and the crackled Foggy Morning with Black Patine subway in the wet bar area. 

Tile Shown: 3x6 Subway Tiles in Tusk; Image: Keeney + Law 

Below is the wet bar: 

Tile Shown: 3x6 Subway Tiles in Foggy Morning with Black Patine; Image: Keeney + Law 

The Foggy Morning tile running up the wall with the floating wood shelving and antique brass faucet came out just perfect. 

Tile Shown: 3x6 Subway Tiles in Foggy Morning with Black Patine; Image: Keeney + Law 

Tile Shown: 3x6 Subway Tiles in Foggy Morning with Black Patine; Image: Keeney + Law 

Why did you choose your color and handpainted pattern?
The Kasbah Trellis patten is bold, so I wanted that pattern, and not the color, to make the statement in the space. The Tusk color and dark dry lines perfectly marry the ebony stained lower cabinets and creamy white painted uppers.

Note: Kasbah Trellis in Neutral Motif's standard color is in Daisy (a cooler white), whereas Kathryn chose a warmer white, Tusk. You can create custom tiles of your own by using our Color-It Tool! 

Tile Shown: Kasbah Trellis in Neutral Motif with Tusk; Image: Keeney + Law

Tile Shown: 3x6 Subway Tiles in Tusk; Image: Keeney + Law 

How did the installation process go? Did you face any challenges?
Even with new drywall, our walls were still not completely straight or flat. This condition is pretty typical in old homes, so it takes a talented installer to know how to thicken and thin the mud to ensure a beautiful flat look.

Are there any other of our shapes or colors that you are really wanting to use? 
I’m working on an exterior project right now that will incorporate the handpainted Lugo and the Mini Star and Cross pattern in a blend of Carbon, Halite, Jade, and Sorbet. The tile is shipping this week and I am dying to see it!  Of course I’ll be sharing photos when it is complete :)

Inspired by Kathryn's kitchen? Order color samples online now. Need some help? Simply call, chat or fill out our Design Assistance Form and one of our talented Design Consultants will get back to you shortly. 

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