This Bold Blue Kitchen Taught Us a Reno Shortcut: Invert the Color Palette
A fabric swatch was the starting point.
Updated Oct 11, 2018 10:33 AM
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Surprisingly, when Jessica Preston of interior design studio Colour + Shape was tasked with updating a 1990s country-style kitchen in the middle of a 1970s-era home in Cambridgeshire, England, she didn’t throw everything out the window. The layout wasn’t ideal—the stove was wedged in a corner, a breakfast bar divided the cooking and dining spaces, and the cabinets stopped short of the ceiling—but the original crisp white walls and cabinets, offset by blue tile, emphasized the room’s natural light. Plus, the homeowners liked the color scheme.
So Preston decided to keep the pairing but flip the ratio, putting a bold cornflower at the forefront, with off-white accents. The daring but calculated use of color is an updated take on the wall-to-wall hues typical of a ’70s kitchen (and it had the added benefit of accentuating the height of the room). Despite the magnetism of the azure tones, there are more neutrals at play than first meets the eye: understated Corian countertops, oak-effect tile flooring, and matte white light fixtures, for starters. “The contrast really works with the clean lines of the kitchen,” Preston says. “The blue is powerful but restrained within distinct areas, and against the fresh off-white it gives a minimal, geometric feel to the space.” Below, she breaks down the palette piece by piece.
Starting Point Window treatments might not be the most obvious source of inspiration for a kitchen, but in this space, they were the jumping-off point. New housing had been built behind the property, so the homeowners wanted to create some privacy. Preston suggested a mod fabric with circles layered over a grid for a single-stack wave curtain for the French doors. As predicted, the owners loved the look, and its various shades of blue informed the rest of the space—even the grout!
Building It Out Though orange is blue’s complement on the color wheel, Preston wanted to use “something a little more toned down and earthy” for contrast. Terracotta, with its texture and depth, was the winner. Working within that palette, Preston punctuated the space with geometric lines, as seen in the backsplash and smaller details, like the cutting boards and fruit basket, as well as the vases and platter on the dining area shelves.
Living With It For the homeowners, the combination of striking color and simple composition hit all the marks of what they look for in a room. Mainly, that’s stylish but practical details, like the matte cabinets and counters, which don’t show marks and are easy to clean. For once, we want to have the blues.
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