THE TILE THAT BINDS
AN ATLANTA KITCHEN WITH A SHOWSTOPPING ACCENT
WRITTEN BY CAROLYN M. RUNYON
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CATI TEAGUE PHOTOGRAPHY FOR GINA SIMS DESIGNS
Atlanta-based creatives—photographer Cati Teague and designer Gina Sims— have worked together for years. Sims designs and Teague shoots. But when Teague needed a kitchen redo, she called on Sims, principal at Gina Sims Designs, who was happy to help. “[Cati’s] got a great eye for design—I was absolutely thrilled to help her transform her 225-square-foot kitchen,” says Sims. The loft is located in Inman Park, Atlanta’s first planned residential suburb and first electric trolley neighborhood. When the street car system provided an easy commute to work in the big city, Atlanta’s nineteenth-century elite rushed to the rural area to build businesses and grand homes near beautiful parks. Teague’s loft is located in a circa-1890 commercial building situated right near the beautiful Atlanta Beltline—the perfect place for daily walks with her dog.
When creating this design, Sims felt that Teague needed a bold, updated kitchen that reflected her creativity and urban lifestyle. Although several of the original elements were used in the final design, Teague was looking for something that better expressed her personality. “She loves purples, maroon, and natural greens,” says Sims. “A beautiful succulent with shades of green and a touch of purple in a concrete pot was our inspiration. We went from there.” The simple layout of the space is much more efficient than the previous one. The floor was original to the building—a durable industrial concrete base that had an interesting finish from years past. The simple and natural wooden accent walls separating the kitchen from the other living spaces were already there and worked beautifully in the new design.
The basic palette was straightforward and uncomplicated. “We used our punch in the wall tile and let everything else be softer but intentional,” explains Sims. But that made the entire kitchen design concept ride on exactly the right tile. “My client has a great eye, and I knew I had to find her the perfect tile in the perfect shade of green, and in an interesting shape.” Sims continues, “I scoured tile stores from Nashville to Chattanooga to Atlanta—road trip!—and online sources trying to find something green and awesome. You should see the boxes of tile samples I still have lying around my office,” she says, laughing. “They are too pretty to get rid of.” The ultimate winner was Waterlily by Seneca Tiles. “The tile is clearly the main event,” says Sims. Each tile is individually handmade, allowing for a tremendous variation in color. The green tones on each eight-inch, fan-designed tile flow like a fountain, creating an incredibly striking impression on the wall. Once they had the right tile, everything in the room fell into place.
“Because the main wall was so large, everything else needed to take a back seat while not being boring,” explains Sims. The cabinets were crafted by Dove Studio in a subtle gray called Folkstone. The countertop is Silestone in Lyra Suede. Clean, unpretentious open shelving rests on the original shiplap, also painted gray, and provides space for a bar, glassware, some books, antique glass, a few serving pieces, and some interesting artwork. A sentimental beauty pageant trophy, won by Teague’s mother, holds an honored spot on the top shelf.
The designer mixed metals with the copper cabinet pulls and hardware, a copper clock, and a vintage brass light fixture. These metallics complement the black kitchen faucet and stainless appliances, shelving, and backsplash sheet behind the stove. The pinks of the copper pick up the warm purples, maroons, and gold tones of the vintage rug.
An island, in soft celadon green, was crafted by Corey Davidson of Atlanta Home Concepts in nearby Decatur, Georgia. It holds shelving for books, plants, and a handful of vintage cameras. The poured concrete counter serves as a table for reading or eating. Two wooden stools stained in natural mango and on black-metal bases are from west elm and provide a modern industrial touch. The photo above the island is one of Teague’s own from a series of local Inman Park photographic studies, originally done for the Inman Park Festival.
The kitchen design, inspired by succulents, brass, copper, green, and contrasting finishes, is really a showcase for the standout tile wall, says Sims. Because of the eleven-foot ceilings in the kitchen and the even higher ones in the rest of the living area, the space is saturated with natural light, putting a spotlight on the pièce de résistance in the perfect shade of green.