Monday, April 25, 2011

Translating A Foreign Language

The hallmark of good ambiance is a feeling of being transported.
The blend of warm/cool elements in color, shape and texture lend a distinctive
 style, that is reminiscent of grand kitchens in the European countryside.

Project notes:
This was a challenging job for me.  Presented with the raw elements of the space: dark wood, white tile, pops of dark blue, grey marble, terracotta floors, various appliances...  it felt disjointed, all over the map.  I saw Provence.  Tuscany.  Belgium.  Barcelona.  And a hint, just a hint of Manhattan. Pulling all of the elements of a "world vision" space together is not easy.  Electric eclectic!

The clients are dear friends (and neighbors!) of mine.  They are extremely well traveled, and clearly wanted the kitchen to be a Euro-blend.  The first step was clarifying a vision.  What is the common denominator, the inspiration behind all of your selections... these greatly varying elements? "We selected only things we loved."  During the planning stages, I often heard them say: "I'm not sure if this works, but I love it."  My attitude?  Then we will make it work.

A lot of heart clearly went into their choices.  Years of travel.  Years of experience.  Rich, fluid moments of foreign adventure.  It was up to me to pull it all together.  Have it make sense.  Create something cohesive and useful.  Love went into these decisions... how could it NOT turn out right?

I covered the hood range in Anaglypta, an embossed, paintable wallpaper 
from England.  It was treated with layers of metallics and antiquing
glazes to mellow and tone... and give the illusion of a time-worn surface.

Detail of Anaglypta.
The copper color is reminiscent of the terracotta floor
and helps balance the warm tones in the space.
The walls really unite the space.
I envisioned a gentle patina, in the tradition of limewash, but with more "body."
A soft grey and a warm ochre were independently washed onto the walls so that the 
colors would lay together in "continents" without blending.  A rustic, elegant finish.
I ended up re-learning, re-membering and re-applying the most elementary art lesson: Color is the great unifier.  The international language of love is color!  A journey well traveled, and I never even had to leave the block.


PS: Very special thanks to Lorraine Spina for the gorgeous photographs.  It is so difficult to capture the subtle nuances of decorative painting, but you managed to do just that.  You have a great camera and an even better eye!


  1. I did miss you! What a spectacular job! I especially like the balance. The hood work is amazing! A truly European experience. Have you contacted HGTV. You need a PR person. I'm available...