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Kitchen of the Week: An Inventive, Budget-Conscious Kitchen Built from Leftover Tile

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Kitchen of the Week: An Inventive, Budget-Conscious Kitchen Built from Leftover Tile

March 11, 2021

As young architects running their own Paris firm, Deborah Feldman and Baptiste Potier specialize in making inventive use of affordable materials. “Our clients in general don’t have important budgets, so we have to find ways to make things work, and to look as we designed them,” says Deborah. In the case of this Normandy kitchen, they gathered leftover tiles from other projects to create a gridwork counter and backsplash. And they mounted industrial metal stair steps as wall-hung shelves that double as drying racks.

Feldman and Potier are 2016 graduates of the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris-la Villett—they met while spending a semester in Ahmedabad, India, and became a couple and collaborators. Post-grad, they both had internships in Tokyo and then returned to Paris where she worked on residential projects at large firms (while also working towards a PhD), and Baptiste honed his skills as a both a designer and fabricator: he does carpentry and metalwork. They officially launched their office, 127af (named for their location on Avenue de Flandre in the 19ème) in 2020—and discovered that scrappiness is a handy skill.

Photography by 127af (@127_a_f).

Kitchen of the Week An Inventive BudgetConscious Kitchen Built from Leftover Tile The kitchen is in a midcentury house in Caen, Normandy, that two friends of Baptiste and Deborah’s, a couple with a baby, bought as a fixer upper. They began with kitchen (scroll to the end to see the existing setup) and plan to save up and continue over time. The architects built a scale model to plan the new kitchen&#8\2\17;s tile &#8\2\20;collage&#8\2\2\1; down to the last square: they incorporated surplus white tiles in three sizes: \2.5, 5, and \10 centimeters. Since these weren&#8\2\17;t enough, they added new tiles in blue to set them off.
Above: The kitchen is in a midcentury house in Caen, Normandy, that two friends of Baptiste and Deborah’s, a couple with a baby, bought as a fixer-upper. They began with kitchen (scroll to the end to see the existing setup) and plan to save up and continue over time. The architects built a scale model to plan the new kitchen’s tile “collage” down to the last square: they incorporated surplus white tiles in three sizes: 2.5, 5, and 10 centimeters. Since these weren’t enough, they added new tiles in blue to set them off.

The kitchen is opposite the entry and open to the dining area—the shelves incorporated under the flared counter table overlook the table. Note the range vent cabinet: it houses an Electrolux extractor and also offers a bit of storage.

Kitchen of the Week An Inventive BudgetConscious Kitchen Built from Leftover Tile One of the clients is a pastry chef who works by day in a professional kitchen—he requested the open storage, which inspired the architects to use grating sourced from a nearby metal yard (it&#8\2\17;s much like these galvanized steel grating steps). &#8\2\20;We like to divert the purpose of regular construction materials,&#8\2\2\1; says Baptiste.
Above: One of the clients is a pastry chef who works by day in a professional kitchen—he requested the open storage, which inspired the architects to use grating sourced from a nearby metal yard (it’s much like these galvanized steel grating steps). “We like to divert the purpose of regular construction materials,” says Baptiste.
Kitchen of the Week An Inventive BudgetConscious Kitchen Built from Leftover Tile The sink was built &#8\2\20;like a floor level shower&#8\2\2\1; with tile applied directly to a wooden frame topped with a waterproof membrane. The tiles in and around the sink are finished with epoxy so they&#8\2\17;re water resistant. The wall mounted chrome faucet is €94 from Bernay Habitat.
Above: The sink was built “like a floor-level shower” with tile applied directly to a wooden frame topped with a waterproof membrane. The tiles in and around the sink are finished with epoxy so they’re water-resistant. The wall-mounted chrome faucet is €94 from Bernay Habitat.

The wall light is a €29.90 outdoor sconce, the Nordlux, from Leroy Merlin: “In order for it to blend in, we recessed the fixture in the wall hiding its not-so-elegant plastic frame,” says Deborah.

Kitchen of the Week An Inventive BudgetConscious Kitchen Built from Leftover Tile The cabinets are made of pine plywood finished with a water based oil from Blanchon. The steel pulls are a \1\27af design made by a metal fabricator, and Baptiste himself lent a hand in the construction, including helping to bend and install the &#8\2\20;blue steel belt that traces the perimeter of the kitchen.&#8\2\2\1;
Above: The cabinets are made of pine plywood finished with a water-based oil from Blanchon. The steel pulls are a 127af design made by a metal fabricator, and Baptiste himself lent a hand in the construction, including helping to bend and install the “blue steel belt that traces the perimeter of the kitchen.”
Kitchen of the Week An Inventive BudgetConscious Kitchen Built from Leftover Tile The steel grating works well for drying kitchen tools. It was given a blue powder coating to match the steel pulls and edging.
Above: The steel grating works well for drying kitchen tools. It was given a blue powder-coating to match the steel pulls and edging.
Kitchen of the Week An Inventive BudgetConscious Kitchen Built from Leftover Tile &#8\2\20;The grid is the leitmotif that keeps everything together,&#8\2\2\1; says Deborah. The flared counter provides extra work space and a place to set up a bar or buffet. The four burner cooktop is by Boulanger.
Above: “The grid is the leitmotif that keeps everything together,” says Deborah. The flared counter provides extra work space and a place to set up a bar or buffet. The four-burner cooktop is by Boulanger.
Kitchen of the Week An Inventive BudgetConscious Kitchen Built from Leftover Tile A cabinet opposite the kitchen counter holds the fridge alongside pantry shelves.
Above: A cabinet opposite the kitchen counter holds the fridge alongside pantry shelves.

Plans

Kitchen of the Week An Inventive BudgetConscious Kitchen Built from Leftover Tile In addition to building a scale model, the architects created this tile plan to make sure the grid was installed as envisioned. In the kitchen itself, they used dark gray grout on the white tiles and white grout on the blue tiles.
Above: In addition to building a scale model, the architects created this tile plan to make sure the grid was installed as envisioned. In the kitchen itself, they used dark gray grout on the white tiles and white grout on the blue tiles.
Kitchen of the Week An Inventive BudgetConscious Kitchen Built from Leftover Tile The new kitchen stands in place of the old, but has a very different look and layout.
Above: The new kitchen stands in place of the old, but has a very different look and layout.

Before

Kitchen of the Week An Inventive BudgetConscious Kitchen Built from Leftover Tile The old kitchen was a tight lineup with little elbow room.
Above: The old kitchen was a tight lineup with little elbow room.

Here’s a project designed by architecture school friends of 127af’s featuring furniture designs that Baptiste collaborated on and fabricated: Order and Pattern in a Spirited Paris Apartment Remodel

More tiled kitchens:

On Bob Vila: How to Install Tile and How to Grout Tile.

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