Need a New Kitchen But Can’t Get Myself Off Of the Kitchen Floor!

Dear Laurel,

I have lived in my apartment for over four years and I think it’s time I did something about my kitchen. It’s not that it’s bad. It’s just not great.

But the more compelling reason to do something is that my appliances are all dying. And the dishwasher. Please don’t ask me about that. I’ve had the repair guy out twice to fix both appliances. The nuker squeeks as it turns around. That can’t be good. And the range. pffft.

The counters are silestone and a kind of tan like the color of Cover Girl foundation.

The cabinets are Ikea and they aren’t terrible, but on closer inspection…

I don’t know if it’s better to do the kitchen cabinet refacing thing or just gut the place and star afresh.

Oh, the floor needs to go too.

I think.

But I’ve become obsessed with floors. Well, my kitchen floor!

Encaustic cement, hexagon, square mosaics… patterns, colors, patterns…

Obsessed I say.

You’re the expert, so I hope that you can help.

Love and Kisses,



Uhhhh… Laurel? Are you okay??? Did you just write a letter to yourself and sign it too?


Yes. What of it?  You know… I have meetings with myself too!

Anyway, you knew it was coming. I more than hinted about it on Sunday.

The trapezoidal kitchen.

It’s not the worst I’ve ever seen, but nothing I would ever do.

Today, I had a phone meeting with my friend and mentor, Veronika Miller who owns Modenus, a fabulous kitchen and bath resource for designers and design enthusiasts, alike. She also runs a couple of rocking blog tours every year. I was incredibly honored to be invited to the last one to see KBIS– (Kitchen and Bath Industry Show) last January.

Veronika knows people, if you get my drift. And, they listen to her.

But there’s no free ride here. I have much work to do before any of this can happen. So, my first assignment is to create a massive wish list.

But first, we need some of the usual inspo.

Granted, there’s no shortage of kitchen blog posts the last few years on laurel home, but this time it’s different. Just put in ‘kitchen’ in the sidebar search box and they’ll all pop up. Or look under kitchens under categories– also in the sidebar.


Here’s the deal folks.

There are three levels of pain.

Pain Level one – mildly inconvenient and fairly quick

Do a cosmetic refresh of the essentials. For the kitchen that is replacing all appliances, new faucet and hopefully new hardware. Plus a new soffit over the cabinets. Paint of course. In this scenario the floor stays, the counters stay.

For the bathroom, it would be a new vanity, paint and maybe a few other small things.


Pain Level two-

It would be everything in one, except the cabinets would be refaced. You can reface Ikea cabinets through Semi Handmade doors. Not sure this makes sense for me.

There is no level two change the bathroom floor but it still would need to coordinate with the faux travertine kitchen floor.  #nothappenin’


Paint Level three-

Pull up the backhoe and clear it all out. Plus a 2 – 4 month stint at an Airbnb. (please don’t forget that I am a delicate flower!) :]

This would only be possible with the generous contribution from sponsors of my reno. Is that possible that there are vendors who will give me free stuff in exchange for me writing about it?

Yes. It is possible. But I would still have pay for the labor. I have a strict policy of having other people do it themselves as much as possible. ;]

But in the end, the old girl would be restored to all of her former 1920 glory. Hmmm… maybe this old girl should go for some renovations too? A little spackle might work wonders!

Of course, we will do the fabulous mural in the hall from Mural Sources.



Now, for the living room.


Well, you’re going to have to wait to hear about that.

I have an idea that makes my toes curl!



Can we see your kitchen, please?

Oh yes, of course.


Here it is. I know. Hate the hardware. It’s all from Ikea. Roman shade is Barbara Barry’s Indo Day.

Yes, I know… weird light fixtures, but they work. I was thinking if I stayed with Pain level number one, I might do these cool pendants.

Capiz Shell Pendant from Serena and Lily

Only $298. I think that’s a good price for these.


I’ll take the La Cornue please.

Current counter Silestone in the cat gromitz colorway on the bottom

The exquisite Calacatta Gold in God’s gift to man colorway on the top.

Remember when we discussed kitchen counters?

kitchen floor

Close up of my kitchen floor–


fake travertine (ceramic) kitchen floor with real marble inlay. But it looks like they ran out because the pattern changed.


This is what I’d like to have. Lovely kitchen by designer Sophie Burke.

I collected enough stuff for at least three blog posts, but I discovered something this week while on the hunt for the perfect kitchen floor and I’m not sure I should tell you or not.



Well, because once you start, you may not be able to pull yourself away.

I couldn’t.

Okay, I’ll tell you and maybe if there are enough of us, we can start a 12-step group.

It’s on Villa Lagoona Tile. You might recall they were in this post about encaustic cement tiles.

They have a thing on there where you can not only create your own unique color scheme, you can even tweak the designs by not filling in all of the lines.

I discovered this a couple of days ago and it was only a matter of minutes before my addiction took hold.

It’s the Villa Lagoona Tile Design Tool


Welcome, they say.

Sure, sure…

villa lagoon custom tile designs kitchen floor

This is maybe half of the designs they have that you can customize with the ‘tool.’

It only took about 20  2 minutes for my addiction to take hold.

(I asked them on instagram if they have a 12 step group for this.)

Villa Laguna Zarzuela cement encaustic tile pattern kitchen floor


I found this pattern called Zarzuela and before I knew it, it was 2:00 AM.

I mean… Greek Key, Chinoiserie theme and laurel leaves in one graphic? Maybe I can turn this into a logo! haha.

And then the colors.

encaustic cement colors from Villa Lagoona - great for a kitchen floor
They have got to be kidding!

This is like sending a designer into the Garden of Eden after not eating for a week!

And here’s a small sampling of white I did.

Zarzuela Villa Lagoona kitchen floor cement encaustic tile
This was the first and then proceeded to do about 20 more– of this one pattern. I’m not exaggerating.

Here are a few of them.

Oh, I did dozens of other patterns too.


but I’m not going to show them all to you, because I assume that you have other things to do, like put your kids to bed or tweeze your eyebrows or something.

I did some smaller scaled ones too.

It made me happy. But it also got my creative juices pumping and I fully realized after day two that all of this as incredibly gorgeous as it is, would overwhelm my funny little kitchen. But you knew that already, didn’t you? (there is one, however, that I’m considering for the bathroom)

(This one.)

And Villa Lagoon also has tons of in stock patterns. It looks like an awesome source! And I am definitely adding them to the next update of Laurel’s Rolodex!



I also found dozens of wonderful patterns in black and white and colors. Great prices on Overstock.

This is only a sampling.


But it’s not quite right for my kitchen floors.


So, I started looking some more through my kitchen pics on pinterest.

I came across this beauty belonging to Mitchel Gold – Bob Williams.

And then I realized that what I really want is more of a hotel/bistro look. And it makes a lot of sense too. My building was originally conceived to be a long-term residence hotel!

Instead of the Capiz shell I’d maybe do something like this classic globe pendant from Rejuvenation.


But since I’m still on kitchen floors I went on the hunt for my life this hexagonal tiles with a black snowflake motif.

Somertile white hex with snowflake design in black

This is a ceramic version. I think that it’s less formal. Certainly less expensive.

There’s also the classic flower version.

I did also find lots of gorgeous marble hex tiles here and here.

And then I came across some original beauties.

Dollop Coffee Company in Chicago. This is an original floor still in use!

This American House

I could see this in my kitchen. Black in the center with maybe two shades of green for the rest of the flower.

Of course, I could always put in a wood kitchen floor.


Okay, I know that you guys have your ideas too! I’d love to hear what you think. Please be gentle. :] (Wires and plugs do not bother me in the slightest, btw.)


101 Responses

  1. i trust you will find your way to a lovely floor design, but also trust you will steer clear of the hairbow/genitalia theme of the zarzuela–greek key, chinoiserie theme, and laurel leaves notwithstanding.
    it’s all you can see now, isn’t it?
    yeah, me too.

    1. Pardon my ignorance, but what on earth is “hairbow/genitalia theme of the zarzuela?” I gather that you don’t approve of my love for Greek Key and Chinoiserie. I have always loved them, long before they were fashionable and I’m sure that I always will.

  2. Great Post!!!! Just a quick word about the encaustic tiles… Be careful before you commit to them. I used some in a master bath (from a different manufacturer, but still – this stuff has a reputation) and we did everything (sealing multiple times with their sealer, used the appropriate grout type, etc) according to their specs… The stuff is like a sponge. The client was a week in and we could see all of the shoe prints, any water drops, etc, and the stuff looked years old in the first month. And not in a good, we-call-that-patina kind of way. I would caution that you get samples and give them a good test run. I felt horrible, the client is so sad, and the contractor said “you should have purchased your tile through me and stuff like this wouldn’t happen.” (EYEROLL) Google the downsides of encaustic tile…. truth is, they are high-maintenance, need multiple coats of sealer, and even then, a finishing wax is often needed. Also, not every installer knows how to install them…. CAUTION….

    1. Thanks for the info Stephanie. Shame on the lame condescending contractor. Maybe it wouldn’t have happened if someone more competent was installing!!!

      I am wondering what brand you used?

      1. I hope this isn’t mean to post, as I’m not sure the brand even matters that much… It seems it’s the material that is needy in general. But, we used tiles. They were beautiful in the box! And the upside is that they can be refinished!!! But, I would certainly not use an installer that hasn’t done encaustic, and I would put this in the category of marble countertops. Be ok with imperfect. EEK!

        1. Hi Stephanie,

          It’s not mean to say the brand. And you’re probably right. It might be an inherent characteristic. And that’s great advice. Thank you!

  3. I’m in love with that kitchen by Sophie Burke. It checks all the boxes. I’m also in love with the tile floor from that Mitchell Gold – Bob Williams kitchen. A combination of the two would be perfect for my 1916 kitchen reno. I believe it was last updated in the 1940s or ’50s, except that just before we bought it, the former owner (who lived here 35 years) updated the stove and fridge. Unfortunately it’s a huge fridge that juts out so far from the cabinets where there should have been a counter-depth fridge. Oh, and it also creates a very narrow walkway and the only light switch is behind it. Go figure. Ready to embark on the plans for our new kitchen with our architect, and currently pondering whether to knock down a wall to create room for an island, which we love for spreading out to cook, and also for an informal meal, or leave the wall that cuts off a small room between the kitchen and dining room, and turn it into a butler’s pantry. It was originally some sort of a room that only the maid used, at the base of the maid’s stairway.

  4. Hi Laurel
    As usual, I love your information and the way you present it. It’s the best.
    Are you familiar with Green Demolitions? They’re outside of NYC. People (apparently with huge amounts of money) who are renovating, donate their kitchens to Green Demolitions. The kitchen is sold and the money is given to the charity of the homeowners choice.
    I bought my kitchen online from Green Demolitions 2 years ago; they were fantastic to work with.The kitchen that we purchased looked brand new but was a few years old. They do sell new appliances, cabinetry, tubs, vanities etc (showroom donations) for a fraction of the retail price. They often have La Cornue ranges!
    The kitchen I purchased included a complete set of high end cabinetry, soapstone counters and sink, a 12 foot cherry island, Sub Zero Fridge drawer and freezer drawer (in the island), Sub Zero fridge, Viking double ovens and warming drawer, Viking cooktop, microwave, cabinet hardware and a Perrin and Rowe faucet. I paid $15,000 for everything! It was probably a $90,00-$100,000 kitchen when first purchased. There was so much cabinetry that we were able to share. Oh, there was a wine fridge too. We had a lot of refrigeration.
    Thank you for your blog posts. I always look forward to reading your blog as I can count on fabulous design ideas and lots of laughs. Perfect.

    1. Hi Pamela,

      That is a wonderful business idea. The name sounds familiar. And it’s fantastic that you were able to do all of that for so little money.

      I need the kitchen/ bath reno to be sponsored as much as possible. I am also working on some other collaborations behind the scenes. This blog is my business now with an annual readership of nearly 3 million unique visitors. And it feels surreal to say that I am talking about something I created. It is always other people doing stuff like that. I hope that’s motivational for some who are feeling stuck. I was stuck, stuck, stuck for years and years… Very similar to the intrepid. LOL

      But as one can imagine, the blog stats are quite attractive to many home furnishing brands. And I will only work with those that are in alignment with my aesthetic and that of my readers. I will still be my same old irreverent, zany me and I will still provide the same and hopefully even better info/advice. My philosophy in business is that I won’t do something unless everyone wins.

  5. Go for it!
    Do you have to have eating space in the kitchen? Eliminating it would give you more storage space and a bigger kitchen. I have a rule in my house that 8 or less people, we dine in the formal dining room just so it gets used; more than 8, in the kitchen space (table opens up to seat 10 comfortably, 14 cozily. But if I were designing a home, I would do one great eating area with maybe a small table off to the side for two people.
    Can’t wait to see your results….so get started!!

    1. Hi Cheryl,

      There is plenty of storage, especially for a one-bedroom apartment. Also, we’re planning on creating storage in those upper reaches. (obviously, that’s for things rarely used) 99% of the time it is only me. I used to have a family, a husband, a cat, a house, carpools… but that phase of my life is over. And yes, I miss it, but instead, I have a blog and all of you guys! But I think it’s a mistake to take away the eating area. And right now, with that table that’s not really a dining table, it can only barely accommodate two.

      If anything, I’m considering enlarging it with a wrap around bench with storage. I think it’s appealing to have a kitchen that has a place for people to hang out. And it will make things look more open as well. It is actually 8 feet wide at that end of the kitchen. It’s difficult to tell because of perspective.

  6. There is irony here … reading between the lines, you’ve had a tough go of it financially and emotionally, and here you are with an eye for beauty and quality, never able to afford for your own home what you put in clients’ homes. Financially, this is a win. You get top quality products and finishes for the price of labor alone. Go for it! Do it once and do it right. And for sure, get the stove, girlfriend!

    1. Hi Linda,

      Yes, your between the line reading is excellent. But at the same time, I can see that every adverse situation brought me to where I am now and with those difficult times, it wouldn’t have happened.

  7. Laurel

    It’s me, from London again…I thought that your tile selections were lovely and so creative, too. I particularly like numbers 1, 2 and 6. And Sophie Burke’s kitchen design is breathtaking.

    I am in a similar situation to you: it’s like plucking a stray thread off your sleeve and then finding that you’re unravelling the entire birthday sweater your granny knitted you. One thing leads to another..

    My kitchen is inoffensive too: cream gloss flat slab doors, black speckled granite work surfaces, dark slate tiled floor. I have to gut my new home (a 3 bedroom flat on two floors, in a Victorian house), because after buying it (and yes, I had a full structural survey, but they can’t lift floorboards), I discovered all sorts of dangerous horrors (electrical cabling duct-taped to central heating hot water pipes, for instance- oh, and some still operational lead piping). Having expected just to paint and recarpet, with a new en suite bathroom in a couple of years’ time, I have to take on a mortgage to pay for a £100k complete overhaul, at the age of 51. Grrrrr.

    But, the kitchen…I have been vacillating, as you are, on what to do. It needs to be taken out for rewiring and replumbing. It needs new appliances. I hate the slate floor and I’m not keen on black granite work surfaces, especially with white or cream gloss. But do I spend the extra £8k for new cabinetry, or do I get it refitted with new bits?

    I want to. I don’t want to.

    One person (my very wise sister) says “do it, or you’ll regret it, and really grow to hate the cream gloss one”.

    My very wise friend hasn’t expressed an opinion, but has exhorted me to think through what “my future self” will think- grateful that I saved the £8k, so I can reduce my mortgage borrowing? Or resentful that I spent when I didn’t have to on a completely new kitchen? Or vice versa?

    My head hurts with it all. I have no idea about your finances (and am not enquiring, either!), but I wonder if that question of what your future self will thank you for doing, might be of any help to you?

    I have realised that I am going to do the whole thing: my future self will regret that I couldn’t get it all done with the wave of a magic wand, for free. But writing this has crystallised for me that every time I go in there, I shall be muttering like Muttley in The Wacky Races cartoons, because it doesn’t bring me pleasure or joy.

    With regard to layout, do American kitchen suppliers offer a tower cabinet which houses separate, integrated ovens and microwave, with your hob elsewhere? Like this:

    The dishwasher is also fully integrated in that kitchen in the cupboard below the sink (to the left).

    My kitchen is U-shaped and I am putting my main oven and a “combination” oven (a small oven/grill/microwave) integrated into one stack/tower cabinet about six feet high. I’m short so I am having a slide and hide oven door on the main oven (by Neff – a genius idea which they patented), so I can get in close to it, as it will be on the top of the two ovens. My fridge-freezer will be integrated in the same size of tower cabinet and my pantry will be like this:

    And tiled floor with a seating area:

    Anyway, hope that wasn’t all telling you what you have already considered!

    Best wishes
    Denise x

    1. Oh, so much here Denise. I think that we can do anything here. It’s slow to change, but I LOVE the English kitchens. Maybe you’ve seen some of those posts. As for you… I wrote something about my BFF dying a millionaire and denying herself everything. That isn’t the case for us, but in the scheme of things, I would just go for it and know that the universe will provide.

  8. Dear Laurel
    As the song goes “enjoy yourself … it’s later than you think”…
    Get the best quality of everything going into your kitchen.

    You won’t regret it.

    Design details are in your very capable hands –
    have fun !

  9. While they are beautiful and I know they’ve been used forever, I think the encaustic cement tiles are going to date very quickly as in “oh, that’s so 2017”. I agree with the other posters who think that the hex tiles are better for scale and the historic time period of your home. And you can make a million different patterns with those too!

    1. Hi Alice,

      Definitely the black and white ones or gray and white ones that I’m seeing everywhere will become dated. But the more unusual designs I think will be fine in the right setting. Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Janet,

      Yes, and some remind me of quilts– not the look I’m going for. I’m thinking that these tiles are probably best for more rustic and/or contemporary homes. That’s where I think most of these patterns look the best. But a lot of it depends on the colors used and what part of the design is edited. It’s very interesting the changes one can make.

  10. Hi Laurel,

    I always have a good laugh when reading your posts, love that humor! Thanks!

    I loved your choices of color for the first tiles you showed us but I think the patterns are too big and too bold for a small kitchen (unless that’s all you want to see).

    Smaller hex tiles with a small repeating pattern would be nice in your kitchen. Just one thing though, have you thought about going gray instead of white? I have found that white tile floors always look a little ‘messy’, you can spot anything on them (I have white tiles with gray veining in my bathroom, not by choice… It came with the house… And it’s a real pain…). That’s my 2 cents.

    Good luck!

    1. Hi Genevieve,

      Good point and maybe one strike against the tile option. I’ve had a number of emails cautioning me about doing the tile. But I already have tile and yes, it’s hard and yes, it’s a death knoll for many a glass who’s been subjected to my clumsiness. And it’s ALWAYS 2:00 AM when the last thing I feel like doing is cleaning up hundreds of glass chards!

      1. Hey Laurel,

        I think wood would work as a kitchen floor and I don’t find it’s harder to maintain, and unlike ceramic tile it can be more forgiving when dropping things, (even glass, accidents do happen…I’ve “tried”… We had wood floors throughout in our loft-style condo). The day we’ll redo our 1950s kitchen, I would go for wood floors because the four rooms surrounding the kitchen all have wood floors. We’ll see… I’m in no hurry! Good luck and happy mother’s day 😉

        1. Hi Genevieve,

          I love wood in kitchens! I was telling a friend that I wish it was wood floor I could paint white and then have a stripe stenciled on. But that’s not happening. haha

  11. Hi Laurel, You only go around once so do it for you and you’ll love it always. We know you have the style and taste to make this jaw dropping. Gut the kitchen, put in whatever cabinets, floors and lighting that suits your style and the building and make it THE BEST place you’ve ever lived in. Messy? Yes. Frustrating? Yes. Costs more than you thought? Yes. Worth it? OH YES!!!! I can’t wait to hear about your process and final solutions. Cathy

  12. Laurel,

    Thanks for the heads up about our coordinating kitchen blogposts! I must say, I’m quite smitten by the first green/black pattern of encaustic tile that you put together and am pretty sure it would be perfection in my kitchen. Of course, I wasn’t thinking of redoing my kitchen floor. Until now . . .

  13. Hi Laurel – It struck me at the end of your post that you did not mention any functionality problems with your kitchen, only appliances at then end of their life and aesthetics you would like to change. Is this because the kitchen functions perfectly now? Efficient and ample storage? Enough work space? Task and ambient lighting? That is where I would start my wish list…

    1. Hi Paula,

      That is a great point. Aside from the dishwasher door (when open is inches away from its opposing cabinet), the layout works fine and there’s plenty of storage except I would love a place for my cordless vac that I adore. I do have another closet for it, so it’s not that big a deal. I need to get rid of the big plug-in hoover though to fit it in.

      There is more than enough counter space

  14. Haha, your kitchen is adorable even before you’ve done anything! I would get tired of that patterned tile in 10 minutes but you knew I would say that!
    Great post Laurel,

    1. Hi Maria,

      Thanks Maria!

      Ya know, I’m with you because that is exactly what I was thinking as I was blissfully playing with the crack cocaine design tool. It would go in and I would go… What on earth have I done? It belongs in a cool restaurant or some place where people come and go home to their restful surrounds— or someone with five homes. haha

      1. Laurel don’t kill me for continuing commenting:) Just a thought-everybody and whatever they perceive as restful. Say I’m the happiest in tropics..jungles, very lush flora, bright colors..vast expanses of seemingly restful spaces like sky and sea and desert-yes, they start as being restful. then at some point you start to contemplate life. long before you know it you’re at death part of your contemplation. I’m deadly serious..I spent many years seeing desert from my window. It’s a life changing experience. It gets ingrained into your psyche too I believe. Especially when you’re there at night and all the stars are huge and look like they are falling on you..amazing. And also makes you feel very small, very humble, very.. temporary on this Earth.
        Wonderful? yes. Mind-boggling? yes. Restful? depends which rest you mean I guess..:)
        It’s all very very personal..there’s no one size fits all. And that’s great actually, that what makes this life much more fascinating. including houses of course.

  15. Laurel, You’ve talked about this kitchen for so long – I feel your pain! I think you should go for the whole deal – gut it and get the floor, cabinets, counter tops, lighting that you want. You are in the business and have an eye for what you love, the space isn’t that big (not that many cabinets or that much tile etc). and you only go round once. Love the Calcutta counters, hex floor, while cabinets, and the black pendant.

    1. Hi Kim,

      Yes, a smaller space is going to take less time, presumably to put together. but there are always the unforeseens. I fear what’s lurking in between the bathroom and kitchen walls. Numerous floods from above. But if it’s as bad as I fear, it really should be taken care of!

  16. Just adore those top villa Lagoon tiles you designed & I certainly don’t think they are too busy for your kitchen floor. High Impact !The green & white ones are gorgeous.

    I wouldn’t want the hexagonal snow flake ones as they are too spaced out (like moi), for the narrow space, in my opinion & they annoy me for some reason.

    Hope, Laurel, you have a high pain threshold & go under new kitchen cabinets with those amazing tiles.

    I can’t imagine you going quietly into the night.(kitchen.)

    1. Hi Joanna,

      It’s so much fun to hear the different opinions of what some love and others don’t. Fortunately, or maybe it’s not so fortunate, I love a lot of different things! It is good when working with clients, however because I think too much designer rigidity can get in the way of client happiness.

  17. Laurel!! Here’s another thing to know about me(like I’m not blubbering enough lol)-I’m nuts about cement tiles! Nuts. So I know Villa Lagoon Tile (actually ordered samples from them, at one point), Cement Tile Shop, cement tiles from Cle, fabulous Emery et Cie(they’re in Europe), you name it. And I have a Spanish Ranch, so..
    but. I had to wave this dream of my good bye because I try every tile..I sprinkle a little water on it and see how it feels..and cement tiles feel like an ice rink. And some people might care less about it, but I for example do care, like, a lot.
    So that’s something to consider.
    (they are dreamy though, right? my sample was dark purple plus black plus something..I think I saved it. I saved all the pretty samples of all the pretty tiles))

    I really like this last mosaic you posted! And both lights. I know the first one well. So I liked it already. But really love the second. Simple and that’s something very alive in it. I love when things seem alive. It looks like it’s in the mood to skip around:)
    And back to the floors..the option of wood of course..first, pretty. second, pretty. third..yeah, you guessed it.

    Whatever you’ll do will be fab. I know that. Right now also looks like many people’s “afters”. So imagine how beautiful it’d be? Remodel thing will be a PITA of course..but hopefully short-term one.
    I love the levels of pain thing. Can be also broken into know that paper they show you at doctor’s , with smiling/sad faces? lol

    1. Hi Jenny,

      Yes, levels of pain have increments, like when the custom cabinets don’t fit (who can we blame that one on!) and all the tile comes broken and it’s a 6 month lead time. (no way!)

      I did not know that about cement tiles when they get wet. They look so matte.

      1. They are matte. Very much so.
        And still slippery as a whale when wet
        (btw porcelain that imitates them-they have some nice ones at Ann Sacks, but very little choice..(they do have a collection of real deal too-much more expensive)-also slippery.
        There’s something that’s called a Tile Doctor I think..I can look it up..actually I have it I think-ordered a bottle to try whether it works-so, it does work, it does roughens the tile surface making it less slippery. But. It dulls the colors.

        Everybody obviously has more or less worries about such things, depending on one’s needs.

        But it’s important to check all this jazz I think..with any material. He who has knowledge is armed.

  18. What is enchanting about the example kitchen you adore is the light. I’m wondering if you could tie the kitchen nook space into the cabinets with a window seat? Something that might keep the light reflectance going deeper into the room, maybe.

    Another thing that bugs me about your kitchen now: the sink looks too close to the fridge. I’m assuming changing plumbing walls would be a big no-no. Could you make due with refrigerated drawers instead?

    As to the finishes: I will leave that in your very capable hands. But: in addition to hexagonal tiles, mosaics come in squares, rectangles (stacked pattern or brick pattern), I’ve even seen round tiles. And since they can be adjusted to scale a pattern to your room size, it’s a good move. I think the reason they were used in hotels: all those grout line are a deterrent to slipping.

    Good luck with this! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

    1. Hi Ruth,

      Thanks so much!

      Indeed the light, the staging with the flowers are green pottery all add to the beauty of the inspiration kitchen.

      Alas, I have one window that faces a good sized courtyard. It does face west so gets more light in the afternoon. I’m also on the third floor which helps. I took the photos in the morning, so duh… darker.

      Nope. Can’t move plumbing to a different wall. The fridge is on top of the sink, but I don’t have an issue with it. I have considered refrigerator drawers, but we’re running out of real estate on the lower level. However, we’d gain the entire fridge space which could provide copious amounts of storage. For resale, some folks might find that very weird to have to bend over every time they wanted something out of the fridge.

  19. Dear Laurel,
    You make me laugh out loud when I read your blog. Just for that thank you.

    Love you and your advise!


  20. I agree with getting it all sponsored. Word of mouth advertising is golden for product lines. And you have a very strong loyal following. You honestly tell it like it is, we readers trust you, and your designs are lovely. Plus a lot of us are fans of the way you write. That’s one great advertising package. So custom kitchen design is the way to go. You need a cabinet company to fit the kitchen like it’s a luxury yacht. Everything fits and has a place, like Tetris. We know you can make it beautiful find the company that can fit everything in. Just how many small kitchen like yours in NYC would love to be organized and beautiful like yours will be? I can’t wait to see the finished product.

    1. Hi Christine,

      Thank you so much! One thing I’ve vowed to do is to never sell out. It’s easy to spot and it turns me right off when I see it.

      What’s interesting is that many companies like one major paint company who will go unmentioned — haha neither knows nor wants to know despite numerous attempts. However, there are many companies who’ve approached me of their own accord. Many of them I’m not interested in for the aforementioned reason.

      1. Yes, this selling out is easy to spot, overtakes blogs, ultimately is a great bust to creativity. Folks become dependent on it. That’s the reason I read so few blogs..and see so many that deteriorated if you can use this word in relation to blogs, due to that. It’s a line that’s easy to cross I guess but hard to get back from.
        That’s one of the reasons I love your blog so much, Laurel. You’re a made person so to say; thus, you depend less, both because you’re far in your career, you’re a mentor already.. and because of your fiercely independent nature and true-to-yourself personality.
        I believe for these reasons, it will be easier for you to keep it this way…being very authentic in everything you do and write, even when blessed with vendors’ interest and whatever good might steam from it.

  21. So fun! I’d do hex tile with a sweet detail, maybe black, white and green. Maybe a bit of tan and keep the countertops and cabinets? New black hardware, appliances and a gorgeous light fixture 🙂

    1. Hi Tricia,

      I have other issues too. Like the fridge size and the walls are a big mess. If I change the floors, it needs to be a big change.

      See? It really is a pandora’s box. And I began with the bedroom! A few people told me that I was overthinking it.

      Ha! I don’t think there’s any such thing. Underthinking is what causes mistakes.

      I’m not a fan of black hardware and appliances. I see where you’re going. It’s too contemporary and I’m trying to be more age-appropriate. 1920s.

      but also, a part of me is treating this as a lab. I’m not one of them but there are some bloggers who ALL they do is renovate! Something is always being changed!

  22. Yup, you got me going there. One hour designing the most beautiful floors and then I had to “just say no.” It’s a coincidence that just this past week I discovered a wonderful vinyl product. Check out Beija Flor. Their vinyl mats encompass many of the geometric tiles that are on the Villa Lagoon site. I bought several long runners for my hallway, some small runners for my patio table and then some others just because they are so gorgeous. It’s an inexpensive way of bringing all those colorful tiles into your home, and being able to change it up whenever you have the desire.

  23. Hi Laurel! Go all out. It is all a hassle so go for it! I had wood once (in a bath and in a few others- a kitchen) and would never go back .. hard and wood warps from a spills/leaks if not caught. We have a 20’s place and in the bath went with a pinwheel in black with white and dark gray grout (that is what they would have used) and I love it. I would encourage you think of a hex and maybe with a more decorative border in either kitchen or bath. I think we have seen that rejuvenation light before 😉 Schoolhouse would have been easy to place too. I look forward to seeing more about this!

  24. Hello Laurel:

    If you are willing to “buy used”, there are TONS of bargains out there. If you are renovating on a budget but want high end cabinets, appliances, etc, I would recommend Green Demolitions in NJ. They have an ever-changing selection of great kitchens that have been removed from high end homes .You can buy entire kitchens for ridiculously low prices. Here is an example of a “white kitchen” that might work for you (just to give you an idea) .
    You would need a good contractor to figure out how to configure your favorites of the cabinets for your small kitchen. And usually if you don’t want/need the appliances that come with the set, they will keep them and drop the price. The even have some La Cornue ranges for sale!!! And they sell bathroom sinks, faucets and vanities too!
    And we haven’t even mentioned Craigslist and Build It Green!
    Have fun and thanks for all the great advice in your columns, Marie

    1. Thanks Marie,

      Those are terrific resources and I hope that other readers can benefit, but nothing beats free. My not-so-little blog is beginning to attract a lot of attention from vendors who WANT me to have their products.

      I’m very blessed, but I’ve also worked very hard to get to this point.

      1. FREE is the best price of all! And you deserve everything wonderful that vendors want to give you for all of the inspiration and advice you provide to their target market. I was super jealous of your free Big Ass Fan — I have been coveting their fans for quite a while, but I could renovate an entire kitchen for the price of one of their fans!

        1. Hi Marie,

          Thanks so much!

          I have to call them up because I think I’m going to be doing a giveaway! haha! Their fans start at about $600. Not cheap but I guess if one wants all of the bells and whistles they can get pretty pricey.

  25. Wow Laurel, that is a real challenge. As a gal who likes things
    simple and straight forward, that sink bump out drives me crazy. And you must have to move off to the side to open the oven.

    If at all possible, I would move the sink to the other side of the kitchen, so all the deeper items are on one side. Maybe a counter depth refrigerator, too. Use shallow base cabinets on the opposite side of the kitchen. An upside to the shallow base cabinets is that nothing gets lost in the back.
    You could place the upper cabinets up to the ceiling and add open shelving under them. Get rid of the huge microwave and use a cute small one on a shelf somewhere other than over the stove. Cheap and easy to replace when it wears out.

    I hope there is another light fixture somewhere, besides the 3-light one over the table. I like your choice of the globe fixture, used in multiples. Don’t forget a light over the sink, too.

    1. Hi Jo,

      Like I said, Quirky R us. The kitchen is verrrrrrrrry narrow when you walk in. There is a wall flush with the fridge for about four feet on the right. The way it was done is the way it must be done.

      The oven isn’t a problem but the dishwasher is. I am always knocking into the door when loading and especially unloading it.

      Moving a sink to the opposite side would not be an option as the wet wall is where it is. On the other side of the kitchen is a stair well. Quirky old building too.

      Right. the nuker needs to go. I would love a drawer microwave. They are awesome!

      No worries about lighting, I’m good. :]

  26. If you liked their tile tool, you’ll probably like this mosiac tile tool at Daltile and you can download tile coloring sheets at Subway Mosiac, which has a larger color range in hex tiles, at It has some nice design inspiration too.

    These companies will customize to meet your designs. Or you can buy colored sheets and make your own.

    They used to mud-set the tile back in the day–push it into a 1″ deep bed of grout and that stuff lasts forever. Not many do that anymore, but medium to dark grey grout is similar in appearance.

    1. Arts and Crafts magazine website has lots of vintage and vintage-inspired examples to look at, and pages of suppliers.

  27. Ginger is correct, tile floors in kitchens are murder on your back and legs. We all understand suffering for beauty, but one holiday worth of cooking and you’ll be covering that lovely tile with those hideous mats that chefs use.

    1. Not sure you guys don’t already realize that I HAVE a tile floor– right now.

      Don’t cook a lot any more. Life changes. Making the best of what I have and doing what makes me happiest. x

  28. Laurel,

    We all have limitations in our homes (well, not all who are featured in Veranda, but I digress). I live in a 1963 ranch, and I redid my kitchen from one that had knotty pine cabinets and drawers that made sawdust every time you opened them. I had about 2 feet of counter space and that awful formica with the metal trim. I had a 1974 Magic Chef oven that fit nothing in it. Seriously, the door had to be open every time we used it!!! AND on top of that, brown plaid wallpaper and brown fake brick linoleum on the floor. CANNOT make this UP!!

    Anyway – redid my kitchen 10 years ago – got a 48″ range, put in hardwoods, had to sacrifice on the counters and do builder grade since I wanted to go high end in other places. When I am out with my clients buying marble, I am redecorating in my mind every time. The thing is, we need to be happy with what we have.

    I think your kitchen could be really great with this: leave the counters and the floors. Fill in the holes from the pulls and put in cute knobs on the doors. Paint the cabinets a light putty color and change out the faucet and light fixtures and it will look brand new! Really, I think your kitchen is a lot cuter than you realize!

    1. Hi Kristin,

      I don’t know if you’ve seen the rest of my place. I do like putty cabinets, but that would never work with everything else that I have.

      I think that some have misunderstood. I don’t hate my kitchen or any room in this apartment. I wouldn’t have bought it if that was the case.

      I need new appliances. The walls most likely have mold in them. I already HAVE a tile floor. A very hard tile floor. It doesn’t bother me. I’m not cooking much anymore.

      I AM happy with what I have, but that mean that I can’t change it. There are a lot of compelling reasons.

      and life is short. My best friend who denied herself everything even when she was withering away at an alarming rate from lung cancer, died a millionaire.

      Her younger brother got it all… and did a number on his home. There’s a lesson for me there.

  29. it’s lovely flooring but in a small space it would seem too busy. I would keep the cupboards white and to the ceiling, the flooring bigger tiles so fewer lines and beautiful quartz countertops ( cheaper than marble ). I love the second light fixture, as it fits with the time period of your building. An appliance garage hides small appliances and keeps the counters clear for a less cluttered look. Stainless steel appliances are timeless.
    I did a major renovation a few years agO. They put up plastic across the hall so my baths and bedrooms remained clean and liveable. I turned one bedroom into a comfy tv. I did have to eat out or order take out ( so not healthy ) but I saved by sleeping at home. Not fun but I would do it again to get a kitchen / dining / living area that makes me smile every day.

    1. Hi Joanna,

      Thank you for all of that. Yes, the cement designs I did are too busy. They are beautiful to look at on a computer screen though! And they are very fun to create!

  30. just love your posts so much. The first tile patterns you designed are gorgeous. Maybe use them in the middle of the space only, or as a boarder around a more neutral tile so it’s not too overwhelming?
    (My gf just redid her bathroom in Manhattan, all black hex—I died, it’s gorg.)
    Sheesh I’ve always known we’d replace our yucky tile kitchen floors with hardwood buuuuuut… now you’ve got me thinking. Again. 🙂
    And your kitchen is actually really awesome, especially for a NY apartment. Would you consider getting rid of the top cabinets altogether?
    That’s definitely my next move—I haaaaate my top cabinets so much.
    What if you extend the counter where the sink is all the way to the window,,, have storage under there? Or use that space and make a bench with seating and storage under.. you’d have to get a different table but it would open up more space in front of the window w/o the chairs?
    Honestly I would go with pain level 3…
    Moving… uhhh ok 🙄it’s more expensive to sell/buy/move and then have to do work anyway. I love bronxville!

    Love that you’re sharing this conundrum with us! It’s funny my friends who are builders have always moved into homes that needed renovating, vs building their own home. I never understood that til one of them said, if I actually designed and built my own home, I would drive myself crazy because I’d never be satisfied and would always find fault/a better way I could’ve done it.

    1. Hi Heidi,

      That space by the window is awkward for sure. I’ve considered all of that. What I really could use is a closet. There is a large solid wall in the front of the kitchen befor you get to the fridge. half of it is for a closet that is accessed outside of my apartment! It’s cool because it looks like I have a large double door. The rest, I don’t know what it is. Part of it might be structural. I can talk to my super about it who is also a licensed GC.

  31. Pain levels . . . that’s not a bad way of categorizing remodeling projects. I’m in the middle of a kitchen re-do at the moment and it’s been fairly pain-free. So far. [Knocking on wood.] I think for these reasons:

    1. The workers are showing up when they’re supposed to and are doing a good job. [More knocking on wood.]

    2. We had an empty room with a huge unused shelf unit (long story) that allowed me to empty out the kitchen completely without having piles of stuff all over the floors. This really has cut down on the amount of time I spend scratching my head, wondering where I’ve put stuff.

    3. We blocked off and taped up both sides of two doors leading to the kitchen from other rooms in the house. So the only way to get into the kitchen right now is through the laundry room from the back door. This has completely prevented construction dust from getting into the rest of the house.

    4. My husband and I both love to eat out . . . and there are lots of good eating places around. So we’re having fun lunches out, then nibbling at home for supper.

    5. A friend has loaned us a counter top microwave, fridge and hot plate, which we’ve put in our largest bathroom. The fridge has been indispensable, saving us many long trips outside and around the house to the kitchen.

    And, of course, your blog posts have helped me make all the design decisions that were needed. Thank you for that! I’m still dithering on a color for the back splash, but have another week or two before I need to commit to one.

    1. Hi Carol,

      That all sounds great.

      We did put in new hardwood floors, mouldings, paint and a kitchen botox. The only real difficulty is that I had a young toddler to keep away from the drying oil-based paint, but otherwise, it wasn’t so bad. I think it’s a little easier in a house. I have no where to escape. I really would have to move out for a time.

      In fact, I found what looks to be a very nice Airbnb within walking distance of me. It must be, because I’m a 5 minute walk to the train station and so are they!

      Good luck on the rest of your reno!

  32. Laurel, You might as well face reality now. You know you are ready to rip everything out and do something fabulous with your new kitchen. I might not be the best person to give advice about remodels though. I went to replace my kitchen faucet and ended up tearing out the entire kitchen and replacing everything but the plaster on the walls. The stress was painful but the results are worth it. I kept justifying the expense saying I will be in the house for years so I better do it right because I will never remodel the kitchen again. Good luck with the projects. I know you will come up with a plan that looks great.

    1. Hi Jon,

      Sometimes I think I must be barking mad, but then again there are people who move and renovate like some people change their hairstyles.

      Then, there are those who never change a thing– ever. I guess most of us are somewhere in between.

  33. Hi Laurel- whatever you decide to do with your kitchen will be beautiful, but I do have two little suggestions. My husband put down the floral tile hex in our bathroom, and on the suggestion of the tile store, we used the ‘matte’ non slip finish. It’s HORRIBLE to keep clean- as opposed to the grout, which is no problem at all.I wished I had chosen the gloss finish tiles which are so effortless to keep clean
    The best choice I made for my small kitchen was to spring for a 30″ wide Subzero, panel ready refrigerator- it made the kitchen look so much bigger! I found it on ebay ,brand new,but a discontinued model .Saved me a few thousand dollars..

    1. Oh wow! Thanks for that tip Dolores.

      I wonder if there’s some sort of sealer or something like that, that would make the tile easier to clean?

      I forgot to mention if I do PL 1 or PL 2, the space for the fridge is 28″. I did find one Heier fridge that’s 28 that I can stomach, but I really want a paneled fridge. I really hate looking at a big metal box– especially in a small kitchen. I was even thinking. (I said thinking) :] of an under-counter fridge. Well, two fridges.

        1. Hi Carol,

          Yes, I’m familiar with Smeg. It’s a look for sure. I’m not really into the whole mid-century thing. But I adore their stainless ranges that are in most of the DeVOL kitchens.

          The clearance means exactly that. These are stand alone fridges and there needs to be a sizeable gap in order to open the door. It’s the hinging system that’s different from what we have today.

  34. Hi Lauren, I would go with white kitchen cabinets with lights inside the glass doors to illuminate or show off your dishes. Lighting needs to go in the beginning before they install. Maybe a mirrored back inside one of two but not all of them. I would definitely pick that La Cornue stove and the matching capiz shell pendant which is nice and airy for your size kitchen. The Restoration one is heavy looking. I know this is typical but I would pick wood floors which are so forgiving on the spine. My sister in laws mother had marble floors. So hard on her back. She went with oak in her next home and she had unlimited resources (mansion). I would maybe do a white hexagon tile backsplash with some glitter ones mixed in here and there. That way you get the hex design without making it dirty.
    I like what you chose for the bathroom floor.

  35. Evening Laurel,
    I was going to say that about the floors being too busy but you beat me to it.
    Out shopping today and was thinking about your bathroom and it occurred to me, you should take your own advice, what you would tell your own clients, if it’s good enough for them it is for you also.
    I like your kitchen, I know when we look at things day after day they start nagging at us, the drawer that doesn’t glide anymore, the floor doesn’t shine. It must be especially hard for you as a designer to live less than the way you want to. Money & time are usually the 2 biggest factors. What do you tell clients that are on limited budgets but want a few improvements to make life more lets say more cherished? Put up the pretty light fixture, bring in some fresh flowers, its the small things that matter the most in life and they are also the most attainable. No eyebrow plucking, just a plan for a good sleep, hope yours is good as well. Cindy

    1. Hi Cindy,

      No, not hard at all… I have never created my own kitchen or bathroom– just cosmetic stuff. Ruth suggested that I move. Ha! First of all, I love my apartment! Love the location. And if I managed to find something that was done exactly right, it would be way out of my price range.

      The only way I can do this project is if the bulk of it is sponsored. I’m a professional blogger now. But it’s a win-win. I get a new kitchen/bathroom, whatever and write about it… I will learn, you guys will learn and the sponsors will probably get some paying customers.

  36. Hi Laurel,
    Those little hexagonal tiles make beautiful designs but in a kitchen all that grout gets really nasty looking fast…a few spills, a splash of salad dressing and you will be stocking toothbrushes to scrub it all out (or paying your cleaning lady to do it!)
    Also, the kitchen cabinets you like go all the way to the ceiling – that would give you more storage and restore the tall elegance of the kitchen!
    Good luck with this project!

    1. Hi Margaret,

      Yes, the cabinets must go to the ceiling.

      As for the hex tiles, I was wondering that too, but they put that stuff in restaurants and train stations. I wouldn’t use a white grout. In fact, what I would love it if it was truly old. Not like horribly pitted, but some patina.

  37. Oh mama mia! That design your own tile website looks like crack for designers. I’m not going there tonight because I’d like to get some sleep. The white hex with the floral design looks more bathroom-like and less kitchen material to me. Maybe it’s because I have a black and white basketweave marble mosaic in my powder room? Can’t wait to see what you end up doing. I love both the light fixtures.

    1. Hi Claudia,

      It absolutely is crack! I very innocently opened it up. haha! I’m loving that last one I posted. I could see that motif running down the middle with a simple border.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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