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Design & Inspiration

Installation Stories: The Tiny Canal Cottage Kitchen

By Kali |

For Whitney Leigh Morris, creative director and owner of the Tiny Canal Cottage, our mosaic tiles were the perfect solution for her space-saving style. Whitney says that she, "wanted something subdued yet impactful— a tile that could adapt to and bolster seasonal changes and decor updates, without just disappearing into the background." Our soft gray, French Linen, in a sleek 1x6 size in a straight set pattern was just the right combination of subtle color and pattern that she was searching for.  We're talking design, small spaces and more below: 

First: Can you tell me a bit about yourself, what you do, along with the Tiny Canal Cottage? 
I’m a creative director, and I run a boutique creative firm in Venice Beach from our little home, which we’ve nicknamed The Tiny Canal Cottage. I live/work at the Cottage with my husband and business partner, Adam, our 9+ month-old son, West, and our two rescue beagles, Stanlee and Sophee. 

A bit more about Whitney...
My style is inspired by...Both nature and minimalism.
My design philosophy is...You don’t have to “live large” to live beautifully.
I got my start...Doing museum exhibition design over a decade ago.
I find inspiration in...Plants and movement.


I can't live without...My senior dog, Stanlee. He’s been by my side since I started working for myself. I feel like I don’t function as well professionally without him by my side!
My best design advice would be...Work with the space you have. For example: I’ve long been smitten with Moroccan design— white concrete with built-ins, surrounded by water and filled with bright shocks of plants and textiles. But a Moroccan style would look absurd in our 1920’s Craftsman cottage. As such, I’ve taken the elements behind that style that make my heart sing, and adapted them to fit our particular environment. 
I love tile because...It adds depth, texture, character, and vibrance to a setting without consuming space.

On to the project...

Can you tell me about your home? Is there a story behind the project you'd like to share?
Our home is a 1920’s Craftsman Cottage. We are so in love with the layout and design of our little home, but there are some surface updates we’ve wanted to make for years, and the kitchen was at the top of that list.

What were the major things you wanted to change in your kitchen? 
We knew that the countertops and backsplash were the most important areas to focus on when modifying our kitchen. While there are other things we’d like to change in the future (new appliances, refinished cabinets, etc.), the counters and kitchen walls needed the most attention, because they could brighten and streamline the look of our entire living space.

Here is the kitchen before: 

What type of aesthetic were you going for? 
Simple, natural, timeless and clean. 

Below is Whitney's Mood Board for the space: 

How did you come up with your color scheme/design? 
We toyed with several ideas at first, but ultimately we wanted a color palette and shapes that complimented the rest of the cottage (since the kitchen is visible throughout the entire home), while mirroring themes from our coastal town of Venice. 

The kitchen after: 

In terms of tile, what sort of look were you going for? 
I wanted something subdued yet impactful— a tile that could adapt to and bolster seasonal changes and decor updates, without just disappearing into the background.

Tile Shown: 1x6 Sheeted Tiles in French Linen 

What made you go for for the mosaic sized 1x6s?
I saw the 1x6 tile in The Modern Caravan and fell in love! Initially I hadn’t considered the smaller shape, since it creates so many lines. But once I saw how beautiful it looked when installed, I was sold. There’s also a common thread between the tile and the shapes throughout the cottage built-ins. Everything is rectangular, from our couch to our bed’s bookshelf, to the many little windows throughout our tiny home. (Plus the tile is mini and our home is mini— it was simply meant to be!)

Tile Shown: 1x6 tiles in Tusk; Design: The Modern Caravan 

How about the color French Linen? I know you were initially considering going for a subtle green like, Rosemary...
I still think the Rosemary would’ve been so gorgeous in our home. But in the end I decided that our numerous plants provide ample color, and that I wanted the kitchen walls and dining counter backsplash to be a color that embodied my main inspirations: linen textiles, unfinished wooden housewares, beach sand and water, earthenware, and raffia. 

The French Linen tile is a subdued shade of grey, but it also has a slight hint of warmth to it. I felt like it balanced all the aforementioned, as well as married the wood of the cabinetry with the sky visible through the kitchen skylight. 

How did the installation process go? Did you face any challenges?
The installation was quick and easy. But I wasn’t prepared for the grout options! I didn’t know if I should go with a grout that matched the tile, making the wall appear slightly more solid and uniform, or if I should go with a grout the color of the walls, which would brighten up the back wall of our house a bit more. Ultimately I went with the alabaster grout, because it helps bounce light and kept the space feeling airy.

Lastly, which of our colors/shapes/patterns are you hoping to use on any future projects? 
I’m still determined to use the Rosemary picket tile one day! And for any future bathroom makeovers, I might just have to borrow from this handpainted project (see below)— it’s an absolute dream!

Tile Shown: Old Cairo handpainted tiles in a colorway created with our Color-It Tool
Design: Debra Szidon 

Inspired by Whitney'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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