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The Limestone-Travertine Kitchen Island in This Beach House Makes a Case for Unexpected Combos

The green plaster walls bring another fresh material moment.
Lydia Geisel Avatar

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modern neautral living room

When Australia-based designer Fiona Lynch’s clients began their real-estate search in Sorrento, they were pleasantly surprised that the coastal town looked a lot like the other Sorrento—the one in Italy. “They’re passionate about their Italian heritage, and they have a deep love for cooking and enjoying life,” says Lynch. “Their beach house is a place to do all that.” The designer, who had worked with the couple previously on their main home in Melbourne (an hour-and-a-half drive away), was tasked with renovating the two-story, 1980-built vacation retreat, which came with its fair share of challenges.

First up, Lynch stripped the place of its blah gray laminate cabinets and intrusive open shelving—“a hangover from a recent remodel.” Over the course of the yearlong project, she opted for luxe yet minimal finishes like a pitted travertine kitchen island base and open-weave linen drapery. “The clients wanted the space to be relaxed. To achieve this, pulling back on ornamentation and refining just what is necessary was key,” she explains. The end result, as she describes it, was all too fitting: calming Positano meets Italian Rationalism. Here are four material ideas we’re taking away from the space.

Green With Envy

curved green plaster wall
green plaster wall

As you drive along the bay on the way to the house, you’ll spot a specific shade of pale green where the sky meets the water. Lynch sought to mimic that “asbolutely magical” moment inside the home by coating many of the walls in sage-tinged plaster. The textured treatment adds even more dimension to the newly curved walls, a decision Lynch made in order to soften up the architecture. On a practical level, the plaster helps hide a few very functional details, like the small storage cupboard in the hallway.

Divide and Conquer

wicker stair screen
dining area at top of landing
raffia wallpapered bedroom

Custom woven wicker screens, made by a third-generation weaver in Melbourne called Camberwell Cane, enable the sea breeze to filter throughout the house when the doors and windows are cracked open. One of the dividers frames the main staircase, replacing the former balustrade that was once there. Another is located at the study’s entrance. As if riffing on the partitions, Lynch coated the upstairs living area and bedroom in wheat-toned raffia wallpaper. 

Double Act

plastered fireplace
gray limestone shelving

Influenced by the scale and symmetry of Italian Rationalism, Lynch embraced honed oyster gray limestone in big ways, using 20-millimeter-thick trim pieces to frame the fireplace. She carried the splurge-worthy material onto the nearby shelving units and then brought it onto the kitchen island countertop, combining it, unexpectedly, with a pitted travertine base.

“I think it required eight men to carry the island bench into the house,” recalls Lynch. The structure’s stacked, angular planes create a generous eat-in dining ledge. Re-sanding the existing flooring and lightening it with a white-toned finish helped make up for the expense.  

Polished Off

open concept kitchen with brass vent hood

The oak cabinets in the kitchen were finished with a hardened 2 Pac coating, while the corners in the cabinetry were sealed in a bronze cladding and treated with a gentle lacquer. If the island is the star, the statement metallic vent hood plays the supporting role, adding a subtle shimmer to the matte stone surrounding it. Magnifico!

Lydia Geisel Avatar

Lydia Geisel

Home Editor

Lydia Geisel has been on the editorial team at Domino since 2017. Today, she writes and edits home and renovation stories, including house tours, before and afters, and DIYs, and leads our design news coverage. She lives in New York City.