Get The Look - Modern Kitchen With a Vintage Vibe

Abbas Youssefi
Abbas Youssefi
20th November 2020

At Porcelain Superstore we enjoy scouring magazines and the internet; seeking out the hottest interior inspiration for our discerning customers. We were really taken by the designer-directed makeover of this 1897 American home: a delicious meld of modern functionality and old-world style.

Located in Downers Grove, Illinois, this house had an extensive refurbishment in 2014. Six years later, the owners felt it was time to turn their attention to the kitchen’s ageing oak cabinets, green walls, and over-fussy ceiling. They turned to designer Susan Klimala who created a light, airy, and optimistic room, featuring improved storage and a fresh perspective on the house’s historic character.

Klimala, from The Kitchen Studio of Glen Ellyn, stripped the kitchen back to the bare studwork and simplified the ceiling soffits to create a near-flat finish. New mushroom-coloured maple cabinets complement the soft beige walls - Tapestry Beige by Benjamin Moore. Off-white trim - Decorator’s White by Benjamin Moore - was used to co-ordinate with glazed ceramic wall tiles and marble-effect quartz worktops.


The real design punch is provided by a small but dramatic feature wall behind the cooker created using patterned porcelain tiles. This provides an effective focal point for this light and airy kitchen.

The two tile designs are a particularly clever combination. The Moroccan-style patterned tiles really work well with 63 by 200mm plain subway tiles. This is a look that can be replicated in endless variety using Porcelain Superstore’s portfolio.

In this close up, you can see how the white tiles vary slightly in tone

The key is that these white glazed wall tiles vary in tone, giving them a subtle hand-made appearance. By delivering the look of a traditional subway tile, they fully complement the vintage vibe while offering a pleasing variation in tone.

Achieving The Look At Home

So how can you achieve this look using Porcelain Superstore’s collection? One suggestion is to pair the boldly patterned Casablanca (shown below) with the rich neutrality of Arcade Crackle Cream.

Four individual tile patterns from our Casablanca Mix

Casablanca packs a real punch: its colourful patchwork being an easy and cost-effective way to create a statement panel or niche. Inspired by traditional Moroccan tiles, each piece in the Casablanca Mix range features a riot of bold colours and geometric prints. With 75 different designs in total, you can be sure to achieve something bold and unique. These matt finish porcelain tiles - 165 by 165mm – are also very practical.

Arcade Crackle Cream, 7.5 x 15 cm

And what better way to set them off than our delightful Arcade Crackle Cream tiles, shown above? These beige crackle tiles hail from Spain and come in an uber versatile 75 by 150mm format. The subtly imperfect glazed surface adds instant wabi-sabi character, while the subtle colour selection is ideal for British bathrooms and kitchens. Subtle and sophisticated, but with enough detail to hold your attention, they are the perfect pairing for the “look at me” attitude of Casablanca.

So, that’s the tiles selected. Now all that’s left are the other details for the perfect vintage-effect kitchen. There are a few details that really help to make this Illinois makeover work. One is the use of an arched opening which echoes another on the other side of the dining room. These curves really bring something to the party. Another key decision was to use larger windows to flood the room with natural daylight: essential.

Natural light floods the space

We also love the small pendant light with its characterful glass shade and antiqued-bronze finish. This design - echoed in the two larger pendants above the island – is the epitome of great detailing. The backless counter-height leather-and-wood bar stools with nail-head trim are another bold choice. They show how furniture and accessories can be just as important to a kitchen makeover as taps, sinks, and other permanent fittings.

The furniture is a considered design choice, rather than a mere 'add-on'

All in all, this is a kitchen makeover well worth a second look. It emphasises how a limited palette of materials can deliver powerful results when the right surface sit together in perfect harmony.

This project by The Kitchen Studio of Glen Ellyn originally appeared in Houzz.