Detroit Kitchen Is Fresh and Bold in White and Black

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Kitchen at a Glance
Who lives here: Designer Dana Mowat of Valia Design and her husband, children and dog
Location: Detroit
Size: About 400 square feet (37.2 square meters)

The original kitchen in designer Dana Mowat’s midcentury home was a mishmash of white linoleum, multiple doors, a drop ceiling and a tiny island. Mowat took down two walls to open up the space and extended the California Gold slate floor tiles — which had previously stopped at the kitchen’s threshold — to create a seamless transition. Adding a bit more color still, Mowat painted the window casings in the same teal as the island and used a brighter turquoise to highlight the skylights. “Because there really wasn’t enough room for the range to go against a wall, it went into the island,” Mowat says. Without a ton of wall space to work with, she maximized storage by extending the island as far out as she could and wrapping it with deep drawers.

Behind this wall is an entry closet Mowat didn’t want to lose, so instead of pushing the wall back and extending the run of cabinets into the corner, she got creative. “I wanted to do something special instead of just hanging something there,” she says. So she built in a niche, painted it, added a wood base and hung air plants in it. For the backsplash, Mowat purchased tile in four different colors from Half Baked, a local tile company that manufactures made-to-order ceramic tile. She installed them in a pattern “that nobody thought was going to look good,” Mowat says. “Mixing and matching colors can be done with anything, even subway tile, but people are often afraid to think outside the box.”

Mixing cabinet hardware is another way Mowat added interest and gave the kitchen “a custom edge,” she says. She didn’t like the gold hardware on the maple cabinetry, so she used it for the island instead. There’s oil-rubbed-bronze hardware on the perimeter cabinets, and the sink faucet is satin nickel. “I didn’t follow any rules,” Mowat says. “I just did what I liked.” Mowat painted the island in Mount Etna from Sherwin-Williams, which is a teal with lots of black mixed in. A Palomino quartzite with all-natural veining and some teal coloration tops the island and countertops. “It’s a lot for people if they don’t have a vision for it,” Mowat says. She used a mitered edge on the island to make the countertop resemble a solid chunk of stone. She chose outer cabinets in solid maple from Decorá that play off the wood-paneled ceilings in the rest of the home.

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