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Old-fashioned Details
Pattern Underfoot
Home Remodeling & Decorating

Photographs by Jeff McNamara

One surefire way to play up a tiled kitchen floor is to paint the cabinetry white so that the pattern itself becomes the chief design element in the room. This was the approach chosen by architect Francis C. Klein and design associate Margaret De Bolt of Francis C. Klein and Assoc., Glen Ridge, N.J., for the kitchen shown here. Inspired by the fact that the room is part of an 1850 brownstone in the historical district of Jersey City, Klein and De Bolt used American Olean tile to create a white-and-black pattern reminiscent of Victorian-era designs. The tile arrangement is authentic in all respects, including size-the design team used only 1" x 1", 1" x 2", 2" x 2", and hexagonal tiles rather than the common 4" x 4" tiles of today. These smaller tiles are more typically Victorian.

The owners of this kitchen wanted it to function efficiently but still reflect the Victorian origins of the house. Accordingly, while up-to-the-minute appliances were used, the cabinets were custom designed to echo ones typical of the 1850's. What's more, the basic shape of the room was retained, as were a number of original features, including the open fireplace, exposed radiator, oversized framed windows, and wainscoting.
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