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The small rooms on the main floor were furnished with beautiful antiques and window coverings, hand picked by André. The walls were stately beige -- not a bad choice, but a little uninspired. The kitchen was the eyesore. Cheap white melamine cabinets and a bulky island in the middle of this tiny space looked sad and out of place.
Beige is often chosen as the perfect backdrop for rooms that have fine furniture and artwork so that the eye is not distracted. But André and Puelo's living and dining rooms called out for more passion, more drama to suit their personal lifestyle. Resonant tones of aubergine (eggplant) have a regal quality that complements the furnishings. Gloss paint was applied to both rooms, and a subtle pattern of circles in a matte sheen was painted onto the living room walls. For the ceilings, white would have been too stark against the deep purple, so we mixed silver and gold metallic paints together with a bit of glaze and rollered it on. The result is a softly shimmering silver green that is quite magical.
The kitchen required a serious overhaul. Cabinets were given a new veneer face, stained and varnished to look like fine old weathered wood. A new black counter, matte black sink and antique brass faucet are gorgeous, and boost the style to match the rest of the home. The proportions of the new island fit the space, and we chose a luxurious slab of granite to set into a wood and black metal frame. Different sized black and white stripes keep the mood young, but still sophisticated.
A pass-through was knocked out between the kitchen and dining room so that these areas are now linked. The faux leather banquette contributes style as well as extra seating. Now the rooms on the main floor share the same hip and dramatic feeling.
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The banquette under the pass-through was built against the wall, cushioned with upholstery foam and fiberfill, and covered with soft and tactile faux leather fabric.
Kitchen cabinet makeover: Remove doors (marking them on the inside for easy re-assembly). Sand the melamine to rough up the surface and wipe clean. Cut maple veneer to size and adhere to the front and edges of each door with contact cement following package instructions. For the fine old wood finish: mix some brown stain into oil-based varnish and apply in the direction of the grain. Wipe back with a soft rag. Next mix some gray paint into water-based varnish and apply over the oil base coat. These two varnishes will react to each other causing little bubbles or blisters, producing a weathered wood texture. Let dry. Put doors back and apply a clear, oil-based varnish to seal and protect.
You can use deep, saturated colours such as aubergine in a small space; here it's both welcoming and dramatic. The silvery green glaze on the ceilings balances the walls and contributes sparkle to the rooms. (Please see resources for recipe.)
This practical kitchen island is built on wheels, with 90-degree-angled steel legs painted black and 3/4" maple veneered plywood shelves. The granite top is framed with a maple border. Its dimensions (30" x 30") don't crowd the kitchen and it's easily moved when not in use.
The striking kitchen redo was accomplished by splurging on one or two key items, including a matte black sink and antique brass faucet, and then imitating the look of expensive wood for the cabinets. These classic materials complement the style of the main floor, so that there's now a cohesive flow. The pattern of thin/thick painted black and white stripes continues over the kitchen door; it would have been intrusive painted either all black or white.
Be imaginative with your lighting. We built the chandelier in the dining room from metal tubing and then hung crystals from an old flea market find from eye hooks screwed into the tube. It's a stunning combination of modern and vintage.
An easy way to create a subtle pattern on your walls is to contrast high and low sheens. The base coat in the living room is a gloss sheen, and we applied circle stencils in a matte sheen of the same colour. When applying a large stencil, mark off your wall in a grid using a chalk line and level. Start at the corner that is most visible so that the pattern will be perfect. You can cheat a little in the hidden corners.