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By removing a wall, designer Marcie Blough opened up space for her kitchen and linked the dining area to it. Now, she and her family use the early 1960s Danish modern table and chairs every day.
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Blough and Dawkins collect cuckoo clocks; the orange and the brown clocks are from Germany, while Blough found the pink one at Tinker and Co. in Richmond.
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The spokes of the Nelson spindle clock from Design Within Reach (left) on the dining room wall echo the spokes of the room’s 1960s Sputnik chandelier (right).
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Blough used long, horizontal glass tile. The Singgih Kartono clock is a contemporary take on mid-century design.
Imagine that your flair for designing residential interiors has earned you a reputation that extends far beyond Richmond's borders. Your spouse is a professional photographer who knows exactly how to capture the sleek simplicity of modern design. Already impressive as individuals, together you're a design powerhouse with a mission, nay, a duty to turn your own home into a masterpiece.
That's a lot of pressure. Luckily, Marcie Blough of BluMarc and her photographer husband, Kip Dawkins (both regular contributors to R•Home), were up to the challenge. Since 2008, the couple has almost completely remade their 1950s brick Colonial, inside and out, into a showcase of combined talents.
The room at the top of their lengthy priority list was, without question, the kitchen. Blough sums up its original design flaw in a single horrified sentence: "There was one drawer." Even if they could tolerate the milkshake-pink color scheme and claustrophobia-inducing layout, for a family who loves to cook and eat together, a one-drawer kitchen just wouldn't do.
A wall that separated the kitchen from the dining room was instantly scheduled for removal, and that bold stroke made an immediate difference. "Nobody had been using the dining room because it was its own separate place," said Blough. Instead, she transformed it into an inviting, open area where she and her busy family can take advantage of their valuable time together while they prepare meals.
Once her dream kitchen's framework was in place, Marcie was ready to let the rest of her vision unfold.But first, she had to tackle the problem many designers face when working on their own homes. "With clients, I'm the mediator between husband and wife, and I incorporate both of their styles," she says. "Now I had to bring those arguments into my own home!" Fortunately, she was able to play her husband Kip's mid-century leanings off of her own love of modern design to create a fresh, contemporary take on a vintage Palm Springs feel.
"It's all about finding the balance," she says, and that same philosophy is evident throughout the simple lines and rich tones of the revamped kitchen. Her habit of blending warm and cool comes through in the natural cherry cabinets that complement the watery palette of the striking glass tile backsplash. Though the backsplash is the most often remarked-upon aspect of her home by visiting clients, Marcie rarely repeats a tile pattern, preferring instead to bring out each project's individuality. "I just like each kitchen to have its own look," she explains.
A PaperStone countertop made of compressed paper and resin, and able to change its appearance over time (depending upon how it's cared for) continues the kitchen's theme of natural colors. Providing a splash of brightness that seems to bring in the beauty of the outdoors, Blough's handmade organic cotton valance frames the window with a cheerful Mod Green Pod print that complements the orange tones of the cabinets.
And that one horrifying drawer? Nowadays it's only a shudder-inducing memory. Copious drawers and cabinets house all of the couple's cooking implements, making it easy for them to whip up their favorite, a fresh Mexican dinner. With an iPad resting securely on a flip-down mount from the bottom of a cabinet, they can explore new recipes as Dawkins' 10-year-old son, Miles, waits for samples at the custom bar. Miles is even able to heat up leftovers on his own without fear of spilling them on either himself or the gray porcelain tile floor, thanks to an under-counter placement for the microwave oven.
With a salsa-stocked kitchen as their home base, Blough and Dawkins began to tackle the rest of the house, adding the unique touches that would make it a comfortable place to live and work — as well as a jaw-dropping showroom for BluMarc. "We still have plans, though," Marcie says about the home she will always consider a work-in-progress. But in the meantime, "it's just really nice to like where you live."