Design Notes Archive

Mix Masters

Mix Masters

The practice of mixing old and new in interior design may be considered Decorating 101 but there is an art to blending eras successfully. It’s a skill that the team at Commune Design has mastered and this Berkeley, California kitchen reveals their fresh take on the oft-studied technique. The home, built in 1915, blends English Arts & Crafts with American Craftsman style, and features a melting pot of decorative influences. Blending modern with vintage, Austrian with Scandinavian, bohemian with traditional, Commune makes it look effortless.

Take the eye-catching play on blue and white in the kitchen and breakfast room. On the floor, an iconic Cubist pattern is hand-painted on Douglas-Fir floorboards using a trio of Farrow & Ball paints (Charleston Gray, Ammonite, and Stiffkey Blue). It’s a pronounced visual contrast to the smaller scale wall tiles that feature an antique-style floral motif painted on simple, ceramic squares (a shape that’s returning to popularity with full force). The combination is unusual and illustrates the power of color to unite disparate elements. On the kitchen cabinetry, wood accents speak to the abundance of early 20thcentury redwood paneling that runs throughout the house, but, paired with sleek white cabinet facing, feels distinctly midcentury here. The decorative era is echoed in the breakfast room where Hans Wegner’s Wishbone chairs offer a dark silhouette against the lightened up Craftsman joinery. All of which is counterpointed by yet another era with contemporary lighting by Moooi and Michael Anastassiades. 

The underlying hope behind all this mixing and matching is that the spaces will reflect a home that’s been collected together over time and that, as a result, will “grow old gracefully,” as co-founder Roman Alfonso has said.

Photographs © Trevor Tondro