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Design & Inspiration

Project Spotlight: The Fresh Exchange

By Kali

Project Spotlight: The Fresh Exchange

All Images: The Fresh Exchange 

Small details can speak volumes. Invoking childhood memories of summers in Lake Michigan, Megan Gilger of The Fresh Exchange used our tile to infuse nearly-neutral blues and rustic touches into their Scandinavian farmhouse-style home. We had the honor of outfitting their kitchen and all three bathrooms with tile, making the Gilger’s newly-built home feel extra special. We're sharing all the project details below, but if you want to sample Megan's look or see more of her inspiration, head to her Story

Here's The Fresh Exchange's palette: 

A bit about Megan: 

My style can be described as…Lived in Minimalism.
My design philosophy is…Fewer and better and lots of natural light. 
I got my start…Blogging and designing brands for small startups.
I find inspiration in…The changing landscape of my home, Northern Michigan.
I can't live without…Those I love such as my family, husband, and son. 
My best design advice would be…Be aware of how you live and what matters to you. Think about how the light moves and how it will coordinate with your life and routines. Design to let in the most light throughout the day. It will always make your home feel warm no matter the time of year. 
I love tile because...It is easy to care for and a fun way to add texture and color to your home. 

Tile Shown: 3x9 in Salton Sea in their masterbath

This is Megan: 

First, can you tell me a bit about yourself and what you do?  
I am the editor and creator of the lifestyle brand and blog The Fresh Exchange. Starting 8 years ago I began a blog to use as a place to share what I loved as a creative and over the course of those years I have built a brand focused on living an intentionally and seasonal life on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Weekly, The Fresh Exchange holds stories about living a simple and minimal life focused on seasonal eating, gathering, and celebrating the local and sustainable. My gatherings have graced the covers of major magazines and been featured in places such as Martha Stewart and Midwest Living and more. I believe that life is best lived in awareness of the seasons both within ourselves and our world. 

Can you tell me about about your home? Was this a remodel or renovation? 
Our home has been a huge dream of our’s for years. After moving away from Northern Michigan, we on a whim found our land while visiting my parents. We thought it would be a spot to create a rental property, but life took a turn and showed us we needed to move back to the place we loved, Leelanau County, Michigan. So a week after buying a our land we sold our house in Raleigh, NC and moved with our six month old to Traverse City, MI and built our dream Scandinavian style farmhouse on top of the hill on our ten Acres that overlooks the rolling hills of this amazing landscape. This home was our dream we had worked years to create and as a new build it meant we were able to design from the ground up with function, cost, and design as our main goals. 

What is the overall aesthetic you are going for? 
While we were designing the home, we visited Copenhagen, Denmark and it inspired how we perceived the design of our home. We wanted something smart, compact, simple, but full of natural light and embraced the changing landscape we would endure on top of a hill in Northern Michigan. That said, we wanted minimal but well lived in with a color palette and feeling that was timeless and would easily take on any season of our life. 

Let's talk about your kitchen first--what were the goals for this space? 
Since we cook a lot and eat locally, plus plan to have a 1/2 acres garden with chickens I wanted a kitchen that would keep up with that. I also knew it would be the heart of our home and where every guest would gather whether we ate soup inside in the dead of winter or gathered out for a late dinner on the patio to watch the sunset over the hills. So I wanted a space that any veggie would feel at home in and wouldn’t be bothered by the dirt of our life. I also wanted to nod to the farmhouse feeling so we wanted to keep a classic look but keep sleek modern touches with smart storage. 

Brick shown: White Mountains 

In terms of tile, what look were you going for?
I felt the tile was an amazing place to create a feeling of the classic modern farmhouse. Years ago we visited the Biltmore Estate and were inspired by the tile work there. Mike (husband) and I both felt it would be amazing to wrap tile around our hood vent and the windows making it all the more easy to keep clean and maintain it through the years. We also knew we wanted it to go all the way to the ceiling no matter what. It would create the impactful look in the space. 

What made you choose Brick in Cotton? Were there any other contenders? 
Honestly, I knew right away when I saw it that it was right. I did debate between White Mountains and Sugar (tile) though. They both have such wonderful variants but I loved the cool tone of White Mountains considering the rest of the colors in our home and kitchen. What I loved so much about the Glazed Brick was that it had slight variations in the glaze so when mixed properly it left a casual look in our very clean lined space. I loved how it brought in the classic lines of subway tile while being a completely different take. 

Brick Shown: White Mountains

Now, onto your masterbath--what look were you trying to achieve here? 
Our master bath was a big deal to us. We knew this would be a place of relaxing and quiet for us as parents. But we wanted to maintain the theme of clean and simple with nods to farmhouse style. We wanted to keep things consistent with the other spaces so we chose tones and colors that kept with the theme of the rest of our home. What came out of it all was better than I could have hoped though! 

What made you choose Flagstone and Salton Sea? 
I fell in love with Salton Sea nearly instantly. I loved the color. It reminded me of the color of Lake Michigan in the summer in our favorite swimming spot. It brought back nostalgic memories of the places that mean the most to us. So I wanted to choose another tile to compliment and contrast it.

Tile Shown: 3x9 in Salton Sea

Flagstone felt like the deep tones of the lake and so I connected to it. When I received the samples and laid them next to each other with our black fixtures it all fell into place. The shapes were the hardest choose though. I wanted to keep them modern and simple. We debated about doing herringbone on the floor but we fell in love with the classic shape of the hexagon.

Tile Shown: 3x9 in Salton Sea with 6" Hexagons in Flagstone

Tile Shown: 6" Hexagons in Flagstone 

How about the kid's bath? What was your inspiration? 
This space was a hard one because we wanted to create a space that would be a comfortable and fun space for our little guy as he grew up. So we wanted it to be able to age with him. At the same time we wanted it to be a sophisticated space for our guests.

Tile Shown: 6" Hexagon in Sea Glass 

This room took the most inspiration from Denmark in our home. We loved how playful they were while keeping design front of mind. We took those notes and applied it to this space…playful minimalism with a touch of farmhouse.

Tile Shown: Tile Shown: 6" Hexagon in Sea Glass with 3x6 in French Linen 

How did you land on the pairing of French Linen and Sea Glass? 
I loved the French Linen in a classic subway tile because it connected to the color of our vanities but still was a fun take on Subway tiles. 

Tile Shown: 3x6 in French Linen 

The Sea Glass reminded me a bathroom I saw in Denmark and since my goal was to use their sense of play in design to inspire this room, I had to use it. The matte finish also made it safe for little feet in the space as well. 

Tile Shown: 6" Hexagon in Sea Glass 

And how about your triangle tile half bath? What made you choose a more bold pattern in this space? 
I wanted to have fun in one space in our home and since our half bath will be probably one of the most used spaces we had tile I really wanted to play here.

I LOVE the idea of bold small spaces and I knew our home would be a lot of black and white so by keeping with our color scheme for the home I was able to find a bold end of what we loved with this super simple triangle floor. The black and white are beautiful together and flow so naturally in our home. Everyone that walks in loves it and it is truly a bold yet classic and somewhat subtle statement in the heart of our home. The bold green wall just brings even more pow to the whole thing. 

Tile Shown: 6" Triangle in Halite and Magnetite 

Lastly, how did the installation process go? Any tips you learned along the way that you'd like to share? 
Our team building our home was exceptional. Seriously! But that didn’t mean we didn’t run into some problems that had to be solved. Measuring was more complicated for tile than I anticipated. Thankfully having our Foreman helped me once spaces were final made me feel comforted I had the right measurements. The biggest tip I will say is that if you choose a tile with variations in it, make sure to tell your installer to mix the tiles well so they look randomly placed well. This I think is what made our kitchen come together so well.

Also, with grout either go bold or stay simple. We kept to dark grouts on the floor to hide dirt and wear and lighter grouts on the wall. Already it has worked so well. 

Tile Shown: 6" Hexagon in Sea Glass 

Feeling inspired? Order your own The Fresh Exchange sample pack. 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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