Adding Windows Isn’t the Only Way to Brighten Up a Gloomy Kitchen
Funky tiles brought new life to this space.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:30 AM
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Writers Amy D’Addario and Marcus Hinchey aren’t in the habit of replacing things. Much of the couple’s furniture is vintage or antique, with some pieces clad in upcycled fabrics. So when they purchased a townhouse in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood with a cave-like ground-floor kitchen, their first instinct wasn’t to raise the ceilings or expand the footprint (a costly and challenging thing to do anyway, given the place is a landmarked property). Instead, they brought in the Brooklyn Home Company’s creative director, Lyndsay Caleo Karol, to lead a thoughtful redesign of the space. The task at hand: Flood the room with natural light without making any major structural changes.
With some clever material choices (think: distinctive concrete floor tiles and the perfect shade of white paint), the designer was able to brighten the once-dim room right up and make the backyard a focal point. “Now when you’re in there, you really don’t even notice the bars,” says Karol. “They’ve sort of become invisible.” By taking full advantage of the areas in the room that already received the most sunlight, Karol made a night-and-day difference.
The Sink Placement
In order to make the backyard more visible, the designer rejiggered the floor plan. She opted for an L-shaped layout and extended the countertop in front of the windows, placing the main sink right in the middle of it all. Now Hinchey and D’Addario can admire the outdoor space while they’re cooking and washing dishes. The windows drop a few inches below the ledge, creating a small sill-like niche for displaying plants. “Bringing the garden into this room was a priority,” says the designer.
The Never-Ending Flooring
While there might not be a big accordion glass door off the kitchen, Karol achieved a sense of indoor-outdoor flow by extending the weatherproof concrete floor from Granada Tile from the interior to the patio. “My clients have no fear of taking risks,” she says of the bold pattern choice. “The pop of blue really makes the space.” To bring more light into the room, the designer swapped out the old door for one with a glass panel. Because there’s a tall fence just on the other side, the area still feels private. “You can be in your pajamas in the morning and not worry about people seeing you,” she adds.
The Perfect Shade of White
While you’d think crisp white cabinetry would instantly cure the room’s gloomy vibe, Karol admits picking the right shade isn’t that straightforward. “This house has a softness to it,” she explains. “It wasn’t a bright-white type of kitchen.” After a deep dive into earthy tones, she landed on Farrow & Ball’s Pointing for the cupboards. The sleek subway tiles balance out the patina and keep it from feeling dated.
The Splash-Proof Stone
Karol used the same Pietra Cardosa stone on the countertops to create a curved backsplash for the splurge-worthy Lacanche range. The smooth material is extra-easy to clean if there’s any splatter (you don’t have to worry about gunk getting stuck in the tile grout). Karol’s artist husband, Fitzhugh, built the island out of sapele wood, a species that resembles mahogany, to soften things up.
The Anchored Breakfast Nook
The designer made the most of the sunny area closest to the hallway by building a banquette. Her thinking: a freestanding dining setup wouldn’t have felt inviting and cozy. Plus the built-in feature allows little ones to slide right in. “This corner was a gift,” she says. Karol replaced the top of the mid-century table with wood to match the kitchen island. The retro Tulip chairs, clad in recycled linen cushions, are yet another reminder that the smallest tweaks often have the biggest impact.
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