The homeowners of a waterfront estate overlooking the Long Island Sound interviewed four kitchen designers before finding their perfect match in Ellen Lopez at EL Design Studio, an expert kitchen and bath designer with over 15 years of experience in the remodeling industry and a background in textiles and styling.
With a fresh take for each new project, the EL Design Studio approach focuses on detail, function, and beauty and reflects artful design through the lens of the client’s tastes and needs. In this case, the client was looking for what they dubbed as “coastal elegance” in the kitchen, bathrooms, and living spaces.
“What I loved about this project was that it allowed me to think more creatively than I’ve been able to in the past,” says Lopez. “I had the opportunity to stretch my ingenuity and design products beyond my usual scope.”
Think bleached oak woodwork, subtle green cabinetry, 20-foot floor-to-ceiling windows, and an abundance of Cambria natural quartz in Skara Brae, Kelvingrove Matte, and Myddleton designs used throughout the home in unique applications.
Cambria offers 200+ industry-leading designs, all of which feature unparalleled strength and durability and are crafted from the purest natural materials on Earth. Cambria’s natural quartz surfaces are nonabsorbent, scratch and stain resistant, and maintenance free for a lifetime of beauty.
The Stately Kitchen
“I used Cambria designs as though they were watercolor paintings or faux painting techniques I had created for each space,” explains Lopez. “Rather than looking at the stone as a hard surface, it was my goal to make it feel soft by letting its movement dance around each application.”
Because the house is situated parallel to the water’s edge, the view of the horizon line creates a strong linear look. Lopez wanted to carry that idea through the kitchen space to give it what she describes as a “stately feel.”
Drawing from the flow and muted colors of the water and vegetation outside the window, Lopez used the movement of Cambria’s Skara Brae design on the countertops and backsplash to soften the hard lines.
Cambria is commonly used in backsplash applications, like where the backsplash spans the distance between the countertop to the upper cabinetry, crown molding, or ceiling. For backsplashes, Cambria typically recommends using an appropriate backer that can support the size and weight of the Cambria application. Substrate like cement board has previously been used with success.
“The kitchen captures all of the nature outside and funnels it in an elegant manner into the essence of the home,” says Lopez. “With the firm line of the horizon followed around the space counterbalanced by the movement of Cambria’s Skara Brae dancing around the walls, the kitchen breathes life into the rest of the home.”
The Great Room
In the great room, Lopez used another Cambria design, Myddleton, to clad the back of the custom bleached walnut cabinets that flank the fireplace.
“With the 20-foot floor-to-ceiling windows on the adjacent wall and the clouds that always fleck the horizon outside, Myddleton was the natural choice because its movement perfectly reflects the pattern of the clouds,” says Lopez.
It was also the natural choice because the Cambria Myddleton design is one that can be backlit in 1cm to 2cm material. In 2018, Cambria introduced the Myddleton and Baybridge™ styles, from its classic Marble Collection™, that may be backlit for added intrigue. Depending on the application, there are various LED lighting options.
Here, Lopez wanted to add excitement and drama to the space by using Myddleton to create a new, high-tech take on a frescoed ceiling.
With Myddleton’s delicate, cloud-like appearance and ability to be backlit, Lopez knew it’d provide the desired dramatic effect. The end result? Three chandeliers mounted on large slabs of backlit Myddleton encased in metal housing carry your eye up to the ceiling and, whether the lights are on or off, create a captivating effect.
For the installation, Lopez worked with Cambria’s technical department to determine the weight of the stone if it were milled to a half-inch thickness and made into a 48-by-48-inch square. “I knew the weight that was calculated would be heavier than the final weight, but I decided to use that number so the rest would be stronger than it needed to be,” explains Lopez.
She then finalized the shape, had a fabricator create the framework, including a three-quarter-inch lip for the stone to sit on, and determined how the stone would be secured to the ceiling—despite not knowing the exact placement of the joists in relationship to the placement of the fixtures until installation.
The solution? 24-inch screws welded to the metal frame that were long enough to go through the joists, if necessary. Lighting, however, was the most challenging component. For the best results—and results that would create the same effect as the wall units—Lopez created a half-inch gap between the quartz and the lights by using corrugated plastic that acted as a backer for the Tresco click lights.
“All this effort, along with a touch of ingenuity, was worth the energy spent,” says Lopez. “The homeowner’s reaction was priceless.”
The Living Spaces
In a living space, the combination of a Kelvingrove Matte-clad fireplace—with beachy hues of turquoise and sand—set against a bleached oak mantel brings in the outdoors but keeps the tone one of casual elegance.
That same essence translates to the laundry room where Lopez installed Cambria’s White Cliff™ design. “To the left of the sink, you’ll see a custom drying board integrated into the countertop that allows excess water to flow right into the sink,” says Lopez. “The bright white of Cambria’s White Cliff mixed with the soft subtle green of the cabinetry gave the room that extra fresh feeling.”
Get the Look
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