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Project Spotlight

Project Spotlight: Klamath Kitchen

By Kali |

Design + Images: Emily Starr Alfano 

Designer Emily Starr Alfano gives her home's 200-year-old roots a farmhouse modern upgrade with a beautifully timeless Brick backsplash in Klamath. We're featuring this bright, airy kitchen on today's project spotlight! 

Meet Emily: 

Meet Emily Starr Alfano of mStarr Designs.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your firm? Where are you based? 
I'm the owner and creative director of mStarr design, a Boston-based lifestyle studio specializing in interior styling, creative direction, brand partnerships + editorial design. When I started mStarr in early 2012, we primarily focused on wedding design and over the years found myself adding additional services. After my husband and I bought our home in 2015 {an 1830's farmhouse dubbed #farmhousedialfano}, I was sharing images and the interiors side of the business really started to grow. It's really where my passion lies and I'm lucky to have made the transition!

Our Glazed Thin Brick in Klamath, set in a herringbone pattern.

How did you hear about Fireclay Tile? What did you enjoy about the experience? What are your favorite products?
Probably Instagram at some point long ago! and via other designers + bloggers whose work i follow. I had the BEST experience working with Kali and the Fireclay team. It goes without saying that seeing samples are a necessity and Fireclay makes it really easy to get a feel for the tile with free samples. so many favorite fireclay products...the Brick {duh} and all the Handpainted options!

This kitchen features a counter to ceiling backsplash in our Glazed Thin Brick in Klamath.

Why do you love tile?
It's just an awesome way to add color, texture or pattern to your room, and handmade tile in particular adds such a special touch. I'm a sucker for the variation and it's why I chose the brick for our kitchen!

Designer Emily Starr Alfano gives her home's 200-year-old roots a farmhouse modern upgrade with a beautifully timeless Brick backsplash.

Now, on to your kitchen!

Can you tell me about your home? Is there any story behind it and the project that you want to share? What did it look like before? What did you change? 
Despite the house being almost 200 years old, it's been very well loved and taken care of over time. We bought it five years ago from a couple {that we still keep in touch with!} who had made a lot of great updates and other than painting and updating a couple lights, it was move-in ready for us. Honestly, until this kitchen tile project, almost every other project and update has been purely cosmetic to suit my design wants and our needs. I'm now on a kitchen kick and hope to swap out the counters soon, and we have plans to get new appliances and lighting. 

Here's the kitchen when Emily first bought the home: 

emily_starr_alfano_kitchen_before.jpg?mtime=20191008103647#asset:476078

And here it is now: 

Glazed Thin Brick in Klamath

What type of look or aesthetic were you going for?
Well it's a constant evolution! Currently it's a bright, airy aesthetic with organic, layered, and globally-inspired elements. I think the best part {or worst part?} of being a designer is always wanting to change things up depending on your taste on a given week/month/year!

With its color and texture variation, our Glazed Thin Brick in Klamath makes a beautiful statement in this farmhouse kitchen.

How did you come up with your color scheme and design?
I've stuck to mostly neutral colored furniture pieces so that I can change up the feel with rotating accessories. Various shades of blue are always a #farmhousedialfano staple and I like contrasting them with earthy tones {as evidenced in the kitchen}.

Glazed Thin Brick in Klamath

Emily's Klamath backsplash extends from counter-to-ceiling and all the way over to the laundry area: 

This kitchen backsplash extends all the way to the laundry area for big impact.


Glazed Thin Brick in Klamath

Why did you choose our Glazed Thin Brick in Klamath?
This house is old and I wanted to honor that but also look contemporary. The brick felt like the perfect way to achieve both a timeless and contemporary look. 

Glazed Thin Brick in Klamath set in a herringbone pattern.

As mentioned earlier, I love that every piece of brick is different. It adds so much character to the kitchen. Klamath is actually the first color I mentioned to Kali and after seeing it, along with several other samples, I knew it was the one. With every tile being different, the color tones vary from a light dusty blue to a soft gray and it's SO beautiful.

Glazed Thin Brick in Klamath

How about the herringbone pattern? 
Once I decided on the brick, I had it in my head that I wanted to do herringbone. I felt it would both transform the space and yet not be a crazy change, which I know sounds nuts but it really is how it came out! The change once the light grout was done was incredible. It totally changed the look and it makes the Brick almost look like polished concrete or marble.

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Image: @mstarrevdesign

How did the installation process go?  Did you face any challenges?  Did you work with a tile installer or contractor?
We worked with a tile installer {a skilled one who trained with artisans so he knew how to handle this tile}. And yet we faced many challenges, ha! We dealt with uneven walls, uneven ceiling lines, uneven tile {which is intentional of course}, a longer timeframe than anticipated due to herringbone needing so many cuts, and struggled to find the right trim for the wall over the sink because the tile is thicker than traditional trim {we ended up doing a piece of wood trim and it looks pretty seamless}. 

This farmhouse kitchen features our Glazed Thin Brick in Klamath and is set in a timeless herringbone pattern.

The good news with all of these challenges is that a} I'm not used to perfection in a house that's nearly 200 yeas old and b} the tile itself isn't perfect which is what makes it perfect for me :-)

Glazed Thin Brick in Klamath

How was designing for your own home? Lessons learned?
Well again, I'm never done over here but I've learned to really try to keep the basics neutral and add in the fun/color/pattern accessories to personalize it all. I work hard to honor the age of this house and style but still add more contemporary elements and elements from design styles you might not expect. 

What are your 3 best design tips?

1/ Try to think beyond the now. will that table work when you have a toddler in a couple years? Can that bookcase be repurposed?

2/ Want to try something trendy? Stick to accessories such as pillows, decorative objects or paint which can be changed down the line. 

3/ And my tried + true: mix + match! high end + low end. Differing aesthetics. It adds character to your home.

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What Fireclay products would you love to use in future projects?
I'm DYING to finally do over one or both of our bathrooms {they're perfectly fine but unattractive and not designed}. I absolutely love the handpainted Sakura and Moroccan collections. I'm also hoping a client kitchen project pops up soon so I can do a vertical stacked backsplash!

Thanks to its toasty hue and handmade color variation, this earthy glaze anchors this contemporary kitchen with artisanal allure.

Tile Shown: 3x12 + 2x6 in Nutmeg // Design + Image: Tanya Val + Carson Baldiviez

Inspired by this Farmhouse kitchen? Order 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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