Tom and Cara Fox’s new kitchen embraces the past without foregoing the modern-day functionality required by their young family. Cara offers insight into how she designed this space to be as serviceable as it is sensational.
When Tom and Cara Fox designed and built their Holladay home’s kitchen, they looked to the past for inspiration. The couple craved an old European feel—classic, lived-in and authentic. No problem there. The two are masters at selecting and curating materials that step a room back in time with elegance and ease. They also insisted on current-day livability and practicality. As Cara explains, “Every kitchen should have timeless appeal and modern functionality.”
This kitchen has both and, thanks to these pros, offers lessons to be learned. Take a close look at this working zone of the room, for example. It teams a floor-to-ceiling brick pizza oven, a butcher-block-topped baking island and glass shelves stacked with everyday dishes. This is a busy, much-used space for the young family of seven (plus two golden retrievers). Fortunately, the room not only weathers heavy use, but actually welcomes it. “The butcher block looks better with every new knife cut, the floor warms with traffic and wear, and the marble practically hones itself,” says Cara, who intended this all along. That may be the most impressive part of the design: not that the kitchen is remarkably beautiful, but that it gets even more so the more it is used.
1. Create Contrast
Cara painted the room’s walls, ceiling and trim in Benjamin Moore’s Simply White. “A single color creates a more custom look,” she explains. She then painted the baking cabinet Benjamin Moore’s Onyx. This promoted its appearance as a separate apothecary chest and visually linked its color to the room’s black Lacanche stove.
2. Edit the Objects
“If you want the natural beauty of a room’s materials to shine, don’t over-accessorize the space,” Cara says. This kitchen’s accessories—antique pizza peels, copper boiler and potted herbs—are not only sparse but also functional—and that’s part of their charm.
3. Play with Marble
Marble was an obvious choice for Cara who craved a classic material. “I chose Calcutta marble because its warm tones pair beautifully with the room’s woods.” She selected a honed, 3 cm (1 1/4-inch) thick countertop with a square edge. “It looks authentic and not overdone.”
4. Style Your Shelves
Open shelves are a hot ticket in today’s kitchens, but Cara looked to the past for inspiration when deciding on hers. She selected 1930s-inspired French bistro shelves and mounted the brass frame to a wall clad entirely in marble. The stunning glass shelves provide an easy-to-access spot to stack everyday dishes.
5. Build with Brass
For many of the accents, Cara chose brass and treated some of these hardware and plumbing pieces to acetone soaks and heavy rubs to create the aged look and feel of raw brass. “A satin finish just didn’t give the authentic look we needed,” she explains.
6. Get Floored
To foster the look of an old Parisian apartment, Cara placed narrow European white oak planks in a traditional herringbone pattern and purposefully left them unfilled and unsanded after installation. She simply finished them with oil to allow their beauty and imperfections to shine through.
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