Get inside the mind of an award-winning interior designer, Lauren Levant Bland. She recently won 3rd Place for Kitchen of the Year, K+BB Design Award, featuring Country Floors Talya Collection as an eye-catching backsplash in this newly renovated kitchen.
Learn what inspired Lauren Levant Bland to design this beautiful award-winning kitchen in our one on one Q&A.
Marmara Dolomite, Skyline Vein Cut Multi Finish Marble Waterjet Decos
What was the source of inspiration for this kitchen project?
My clients recently relocated from New Jersey to Virginia. They loved a lot of things about their new house, but the kitchen wasn’t one of them. It was outdated, dark, and there was an awkward layout for both cooking and entertaining. Like many people, they like to spend a lot of time in the family room and kitchen, so they wanted to design a space that was beautiful, functional, and that connected those spaces in a pleasurable way.
I decided to create twin islands, each with its own prep and cleanup spaces (a sink, trash, and dishwasher in each) so that the kitchen would function just as well for a big group as it would for their immediate family. Creating a dramatic focal point with the cooking area, which is flanked by matching pantry and refrigerator armoires, created a balanced and dramatic backdrop to the space. One of my favorite details is how much attention we paid to an often overlooked area – the ceiling! The raised tray was given a gleaming border of pressed tin, a rich chocolate tone, and iced with modern crystal lighting. A little New Jersey glamour in a tasteful and clean-looking design.
What were the key aspects for consideration when choosing our Talya collection for the backsplash for your client’s kitchen?
The color scheme in this design is successful in part because it’s mostly monochromatic. When you’re making big statements with the shapes and textures of a space, a sophisticated color palette helps you keep it classy. The Talya tile is gorgeous, and it was the perfect balance of a classic material (Carrara marble tile) with a modern, high-tech twist (it’s cut with water-jet lasers). The Talya mosaic pulls your eye through the space by providing texture and interest at the rear and helped the large cooking area feel more intimate and more special. When you’re in this kitchen, you just can’t help but walk up to that tile and touch it.
How would you describe the end result of this kitchen project?
I think we struck the right chords here. The design is bold yet classic, breezy, and glamorous. I know the clients and their guests are enjoying the feeling this space gives off – and they’re really putting it to work for them as well. Mark tells me that in addition to gathering design honors, his new kitchen also allows him to cook his wife and daughters some pretty famous pancakes! I’d say that’s a thumbs-up.
What inspired you to become an interior designer and what currently inspires you and is influencing your work?
I’ll be honest – there’s nothing I enjoy more than creating new, exciting things that make people happy. Back in school, I knew I needed to be in a creative or artistic field. I enjoy drawing, painting, cooking, and other creative pursuits as well – but I think of designing spaces as literally making art for people to live in – and that’s so exciting! I also love that in design fields, there is a constant state of collaboration where other peoples’ input and ideas influence your own thinking and end up showing up somehow in your work. I’m lucky to have worked with some great designers along the way like Jennifer Gilmer and John Starck – and I feel like I’m always learning and becoming a better listener and designer. In the end, two things motivate me to keep designing and keep learning. First, I’ll admit I enjoy it when I have a big idea and it turns out looking really good – that’s a thrill. But truly, the ultimate payoff is the gleefulness that I get to see in my clients when all our hard work has paid off. It’s an amazing feeling of joy and satisfaction – it’s like putting a live pony behind the Christmas tree, and watching the kids go nuts! It really makes me love this work.
What are your favorite materials or textures?
I try not to play favorites… But I do love some reclaimed wood and metals. They make the modern design feel soft, natural, and lovely.
When designing a home, what is your favorite room?
I’ve done a lot of kitchens and I still love them… but right now I’m excited to do more master bedroom suites. I’m doing a few this year (including my own) and I find them exciting because they call for intimate, sophisticated, and subtly sensual spaces. I know that in our home, our redesigned master suite is now a welcoming refuge for my husband and me at the end of the day. There are lovely places to read, bathe, talk, and sleep. I think that with our frantic daily pace, we all deserve to end our day in a serene and beautiful way.
Is there a design rule that you like to break?
I usually observe the design rules of proportion, contrast, and… gravity. Otherwise, I try to challenge myself not to fall into old patterns too much and try to think in flexible ways. I’d like to avoid being the sort of designer who has a signature look- I want to continue to grow and try new things. It’s also the only way to give my clients something that they know will be uniquely theirs.
How would you describe your personal style?
Transitional is an overused word,… so is eclectic, but both are true for me. For example, my husband and I are now living in a Victorian-era rowhouse that we’ve just restored with all the lovely original fireplaces, floors, and moldings – yet we’ve injected style contrasts in certain places using fixtures and furnishings from various eras. Our dressing room is very mid-century, our kitchen is ultramodern but it’s mixed with rustic wood and vintage glass… What can I say? Maybe my design style is “restless”… I enjoy many styles, and sometimes I like to mix them.
Is there a design trend that really stood out to you in 2014 and what is the next trend you see as far as kitchen design and decor?
This year I loved seeing the return of brass fixtures, which seemed to come back in a big way in 2014. Happy little pops of brass showed up in lighting, hardware, and in plumbing fixtures. The patina of warm raw metals is so appealing to me.
Looking forward, I’m starting to see people becoming more comfortable with putting less on the walls of the kitchen – and I hope that trend continues. I hope in 2015 we will truly be ready to treat the kitchen as what it now is – a living space – and that there’s great value in being efficient with lower-level storage so that there’s room for open walls, art, and for windows. A breath of fresh air!