To up the fun factor, Marilyn suggested using jaunty and arrow-shaped mosaic tiles by Ann Sacks for the backsplash. Dark-colored grout makes the silhouette stand out. “The clients definitely did not want subway tiles. They asked for an interesting shape; I’m into that,” Marilyn says. “These are on trend, but classic, and well-priced.”
When it came time to accessorize, Marilyn steered them towards brushed brass hardware. She reasoned that the finish helps integrate the yellow tones of the wood floor that they couldn’t refinish due to budget constraints. (Priorities, remember?) Midcentury-style steel pendants in aged brass bring more brightness and warmth into the room, while their black interiors tie into the range and matte black faucet. “Mixing metals looks more intentional than a single finish,” the architect says.
Not wanting to sacrifice windows, but recognizing that the homeowners, who love to cook and entertain, required more storage, Marilyn sought alternatives. In addition to creating a bar just past the window in the adjacent seating area, she nestled a sideboard under the stairs across from the island. “This kitchen punches above its weight by distributing storage to other places,” she says.
The sideboard houses small appliances, such as their slow cooker. It also includes a pull-out trash drawer for dog food. “I always encourage people to plan for pets—those things are bulky and are needed at least twice a day,” Marilyn says. She also added hooks for leashes and coats on the other side of the stair, next to the back entry.
Along with much-needed function, the sideboard lends panache to what was dead space in front of the stairs. That said, the team left the stair’s crumbling brick wall as is. (Again, priorities.) Marilyn notes that this carefully considered decision illustrates how the clients embraced the way their house changed over time. “It’s not about erasing flaws and making things perfect, but going on to the next chapter,” she says. “Allowing the patina to be what it is, that’s part of the charm.”
Being on a budget helps too. “Budgets constrain you, but they also free you,” Marilyn says.