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Black & White Reboot

by Lee Rhodes

Lisa Maillart’s kitchen is a soul-nourishing one, with generous doses of light, a fresh color palette, and a sense of openness. With help from Maggie Cham, owner of madDesigns, this once-claustrophobic 1960s kitchen underwent a dramatic transformation.

After Lisa purchased her home, she went abroad for a year. It was during this time that she fell in love with the Old World look of handmade encaustic tiles, whose intricate patterns and vivid colors are fueling the infatuation with the tile back here in the U.S. Still, Lisa was initially hesitant about her bold new backsplash—which was set to replace a fruit mosaic above the range—but she ultimately embraced it and it became jumping-off point for the rest of the kitchen.

A serious influence

Maggie recommended a matte black faucet—Sleek by Moen from Don’s Appliances—to accent the black-and-white backsplash and to connect with the appliances. In fact, it’s the appliances that are critical to the room’s transformation because, as Maggie puts it, they “seriously influenced the design.” Because Lisa isn’t fond of the stainless look, Maggie recommended the GE Profile line in the softer-looking slate finish. In addition to the GE French Door refrigerator, which has a custom magnetic chalkboard to its side for displaying menus and artwork, they also incorporated a U-Line beverage fridge. “Lisa loves to entertain and wanted the luxury of a beverage fridge, both for easy access to her son’s juice boxes and for herself; it’s closer to the dining areas when she’s hosting company,” explains Maggie.

Lisa also wanted the luxury of a paneled dishwasher and chose the Bosch 800 Series, as well as the GE Slide-In Gas Range that contains two smaller ovens. She and Maggie hid the cooking ventilation inside the custom Best Coperto Range Hood. Similarly, the Sharp microwave drawer allows Lisa to have easy access to the appliance while keeping it off of the countertops and mostly out of sight. This approach allowed them to showcase the island as the piece of furniture it’s designed to emulate.

In addition to the natural light that now pours into the kitchen—Maggie and her general contractor Brian Podgorski of BP Construction removed walls, changed entry points, and removed bulkheads to accomplish this—there are honeycomb glass pendants that create visual interest and illuminate the space.

Black & White Reboot

Stick with the classics

Maggie has advice on how to approach a kitchen renovation, particularly when it comes to aligning aesthetics with functionality. Start with the latter, she says. “Tried and true, form follows function. If you design a beautiful room that doesn’t work for you, it’s only going to prove frustrating in the long run.” Maggie also speaks to some of what’s on-trend in kitchens right now, including more modern, sleek lines with a depth of textures. “Navy and medium to dark hues of blue are very popular right now, but I think they will stand up to time as they are such classic neutrals,” she adds. “And I’m always wary of trends that look trendy, but prefer those that still harken back to timeless style, not necessarily ‘traditional,’ just timeless.” For this particular project, the natural flow of light, clean color palette, and stunning appliances work well to create a timeless appeal that is sure to last for years to come.


GE 30” Slide-In Gas Range (PGS960EELES); >GE French Door Refrigerator (PYE22KMKES); SHARP 24” Microwave Drawer (SMD2470ASY); Bosch 24” 800 Series Dishwasher (SHV878WD3N); Best Coperto Range Hood; U-Line 24” Glass Door Refrigerator (U-1224RGLS-00A)