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Color Confidence

Designers enjoy creative palettes in Marin kitchens

(page 1 of 3)

Color. It abounds in nature, remains an endless source of inspiration for artists and style-setters, and yet can be daunting for many of us, especially when it comes to the choices we make for decorating our homes. Our lives are filled with color, from the toothbrush we use in the morning to the sheets we climb underneath at night, but when given the chance to make a colorful statement in the kitchen, playing it safe typically trumps playing with paint.

In the following pages, three Marin design firms explain how color-confident clients made their kitchens both personal and vibrant.










Euro in Orange and Blue

Jennifer Hershon and JoAnn Hartley, partners in the San Anselmo firm Hershon-Hartley Design, faced a challenge when asked to design a kitchen in a Marinwood California modern–style home.

The clients “wanted a sleek, high-end Snaidero type of kitchen, but had a moderate budget,” Hershon says. Also, appliances purchased a year earlier needed to be included.

Hershon and Hartley’s solution was an affordable Italian-style room. “We guided our clients with colors that they could both agree on,” Hershon says, “and worked with them, over time, to get an unusual mix” so the result would be “that European look, but one that would suit the architecture.”

Color is the single most frightening decision for clients, Hershon says. Even though paint is just about the least expensive design tool there is—and the easiest to change—“it still stops most people in their tracks.”

Not these clients, though. “They actually had a bright cobalt blue in mind when we started,” Hershon says. “They weren’t afraid of anything far-out.”

In the end, they settled on a combination of gray-blue and burnt orange for the cabinet doors and chose a practical matte-finish laminate rather than the high-gloss painted finish they’d originally envisioned.

A cushiony cork floor in charcoal gray was selected for comfort and compatibility with the existing black appliances. For consistency, the kitchen colors were repeated in the adjacent family room with a burnt orange wall, charcoal sofa and teal accent pillows.

Big-ticket items were judicious decisions. “We tried to pick and choose where to spend the money to get as much bang for their buck as possible and to spend the money on the materials that were important,” says Hershon.

That meant using Abet Laminati, an expensive Italian laminate, and a brushed aluminum toe kick from Móz Designs, but only in small amounts. “The Abet Laminati is not widely known in design circles,” says Hartley, “but it has an amazing number of colors and textures that you can’t find in American-made laminates and we didn’t need a lot to get the look. The toe kick was pricey, but we only needed one sheet, and with its concentric circles, it just makes the floor pop.”

They compromised on the lighting, too, choosing a cobalt-blue glass pendant that contributed a contemporary Italian look but didn’t break the bank. They spent more on the recessed lighting to illuminate an etched-glass backsplash custom-designed by San Rafael glass artist David Arnone, who also created the glass fronts for the upper maple cabinets.

Now, says Hartley, “there’s a certain exuberance you feel when you walk into this kitchen and see this striking color. It’s not what you’d normally find in a house of this type.”

Image 1:  Gray-blue and burnt orange cabinets create an inviting environment.
Image 2:  Jennifer Herson and Joann Hartley, Hershon-Hartley Design


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