A Family Affair
Infusing their signature global flair, sister act Faith Blakeney and Justina Blakeney transform their parents' condo into a lush, family-friendly retreat. We're sharing more about this beautiful (tile-filled) home, as well as design tips from this dynamic duo below!
Ps. If you love Justina's style and want to see her past projects and more design inspiration, check out her Story!
Let's talk about you two as sisters: how amazing that you both became designers! Were both your mom and dad creatives as well? Was this your first time working on a project together?
Justina: Our parents are developmental psychologists - although they’re not ‘creatives’ by trade they both are very creative thinkers, and encouraged us (I think) to look at everything from multiple perspectives.
Meet the parents:
I think that’s one big reason me, my sister (and our brother too!) grew up to be artists/creatives. This was our first time working on an interior design project like this together, but we have a long history of collaboration and working together -- we owned a boutique together in Italy and co-authored four books together in our twenties.
On to you parent’s condo! Was this a renovation or remodel? How involved were your parents in the design process?
Faith: This apartment actually has a long, sweet history. Our grandparents purchased this place for our great-grandparents in the 60's, when this complex was just built. Since then, literally our entire family has lived there at some time or another (Justina and I included), and most recently our brother & his wife and 3 kids. The apartment was completely outdated and in state of disrepair after so many years of use & abuse (I won't name any names! ;-). We did a big renovation; gut renovated both bathrooms, replaced most of the flooring, all of the lighting, giant overhaul in the kitchen, converted a closet into a sleeping niche.
The process was very collaborative. We would sit down all together with various tile samples in front of us oohing and ahhhing and picking out our favorites. Ultimately Justina and I would make the design decisions, but always informed by our parents preferences.
What was the overall look you all were going for in their home?
Justina: From my perspective, my parents were wanting something a little more elevated from some of their previous homes, but it also needed to be functional --especially considering they like to host a lot and often have a lot of grandchildren running around the home. It was about finding the right balance of chic and homey. We also knew that we wanted to add some architectural interest to this condo to give it a little more personality.
Faith: For our parents home we were inspired by the warm, artful, bohemian spaces of the Mediterranean with a fresh and modern twist. We chose warm browns & terra cotta tones with various shades of aqua and teal and green. We wanted the space to feel inviting and kid friendly but also feel clean, simple and sophisticated. Most of all, after decades of my parents living in rentals, our biggest aim was to create a place for them where they could truly and totally feel at HOME. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
Let's talk about the kitchen first. What were the goals for this space?
Faith: The kitchen is undeniably the most import room in this house. Our mother is an avid cook (and the best cook on the planet by the way), and it is a place were we always gather, the heart of the home. When we got our hands on it this kitchen it was also the most outdated room in the house. Our parents last apartment was dark and dreary. Our main goal with this kitchen was to make it light and airy.
Tile Shown: Paseo in Sea Foam
What made you choose the Paseo in Sea Foam for the backsplash?
Faith: We decided on a fairly light, neutral palette for the walls, countertops & cabinets and got a bit wild with the tile! We decided to take the backsplash all the way up the walls of the kitchen in
Paseo in Sea Foam. The shape of the tile has a Spanish feel that we love, and the color is both classic and contemporary. This sinuous lines of Paseo work to soften all of the rectilinear lines throughout the kitchen.
On to the master bathroom--what was the inspiration here?
Faith: For this bathroom we were inspired to create a spa like retreat in Ojai! We used colors from nature and added many plants to the design to bring the outdoors in. We chose a vintage style vanity and these gorgeous handmade tile to complete this organic look.
What made you choose the Ogee Drops in Nutmeg with Handpainted Summit in Green Motif?
Faith: The Ogee Drops are a beautiful, classic shape. We chose to lay them so the round edge is facing up, and that round shape is echoed in Summit motif, which is a nice, subtle tie-in. We also loved the way the the Ogee Drop tiles created this ruffled edge where we only tiled the half walls. My sis and I are big fans of pinkish/coral tones and green, and these two tones- the green and nutmeg felt like a uncommon, yet surprisingly natural fit.
By the way, how did you finish the edge on the tub surround?
Faith: To finish the tub surround we actually decided, after much thought, to simply create thick grout lines. This felt like the most simple, organic way to create the look we were going for- and we didn’t need any trim, which was a plus!
You also used Summit, but in Neutral Motif, for the guest bath. What made you go for this pattern twice?
Faith: Honestly, we used this pattern twice because our dear mama fell in absolute love with this tile! Our mother has a secret love for Japanese design and I think the Summit tile was calling to her Japanese spirit! We also thought it was a sweet, subtle way to tie in the 2 bathrooms.
How about the 8" Hexagons in Tidewater?
Faith: In the guest bathroom we chose tidewater hexagons. The tidewater color is incredibly soothing while the 8” hexes add an element of fun!
Tile Shown: 8" Hexagon in Tidewater
Any tips for mixing two tile patterns in the same room?
Justina: I think that mixing two tile patterns in the same room can be very fun and exciting, but it’s important to have a clear vision for the overarching color palette of the space and an understanding of what other materials, and patterns may emerge. Grout color and thickness can wildly affect this. Contrasting grout colors make patterns stand out more, whereas grout colors that match the tile more give more of an all-over look.
To avoid designing a room that looks too busy, I like to pick one surface (walls, for example) that have low contrast, and then the other surface (floors, for example) that have high contrast. Balancing patterns that stand out more with patterns that read more as an all-over can help create a rich, layered look that doesn’t veer into the over-the-top too busy sphere.
Lastly, Justina, you've worked with us on a number of projects and Faith you've already got two tile projects under your belt! Any words of wisdom you'd like to share on working with handmade tile?
Justina: The hardest thing is getting the quantity of tiles right. Since the tiles can vary in color from batch to batch, it’s important to order enough tile the first time around. It’s easy to shift ideas and strategies in the middle of a design project (like deciding midway through to add an extra niche in the shower) but this will affect how much tile you need. Having a very clear idea of the design before ordering the tile is vital. This, however, will never stop me from using handmade tile. The quality is astounding, the handmade look and feel is luxurious and feels simultaneously hyper-modern and ancient -- and that’s where design magic happens.
Tile Shown: 8" Hexagons in Adriatic Sea
Faith: Don’t underestimate the importance of grout choice! This may sound funny, but how much space you have between each tile, and what color grout you choose can COMPLETELY transform the look and feel of a space. For this project I took a lot of time to choose the grout colors, and very intentionally went for colors that were close in tone to the tile color. This way we just let the tiles beauty shine!
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