“Like a worn leather jacket” is how Boca Raton, Fla.-based designer and Detroit Design Awards judge Jamie Herzlinger describes the finish on the marble countertops she recently designed and installed in an Arizona kitchen. Known as “leathering,” she says the technique involves beating the material with leather straps in a process akin to distressing. “It produces a worn finish versus a polished one, reducing worries about spills and maintenance,” she explains.
Marble countertops are among the many highlights of two kitchens Herzlinger recently completed. Before the much-needed renovation, the white kitchen with the leathered countertops had “a white wash on wood, which looked very dated,” she says. Designed for a family that owns a well-known restaurant, the 30-by-15-foot space features two roomy islands, including, one outfitted with a sink and dishwasher tailored for a sous chef. Other highlights include modern light fixtures, dark wood floors, glass-front cabinets, multiple sinks, and lots of room to spread out. “They use the kitchen not only for their family, but also for visiting chefs,” Herzlinger says of the homeowners.
The designer says white continues to be the most popular kitchen color among her clients because it “always looks clean.” She occasionally gets requests for a kitchen with a dominant color or black, but it’s usually for second or third homes, not typically a primary residence.
The “before” of the black kitchen, which also features marble countertops, was a pre-fab red oak kitchen with a faux marble top that Herzlinger recalls “definitely wouldn’t do.” Materials in the black kitchen were chosen to be “classic yet fun,” and to function smoothly for the homeowners’ many catered events.
Located in an alcove, the 15-by-15-foot space has a distinctive Shoji-style screen that allows it to be easily closed off when entertaining. “It’s in a condo,” the designer explains, and the homeowner “wanted to be able to see, and at the same time close it off.” The kitchen’s walnut island is used by the caterer but it’s also a favorite spot to have cocktails, the designer says. Warm woods on the island counter, in the bar stools, and on the patterned parquet floors complement the trim on the nearby screen.
Gold accents and hardware add elegance and gleaming contrast to the dark cabinetry.
Whatever the project, it’s the details that makes the difference, Herzlinger says. “The hood, the hardware, the edge detail — it’s like a monogram,” she says of the personalized spaces she designs. She reports that she’s getting more requests for gold or silver inlays, steam ovens, and special appliances. “Every kitchen I’ve done is tailored to the client,” Herzlinger explains. Even when it’s part of a whole-house project, the kitchen is one of her top priorities, and it’s given lots of thought and attention. “The kitchen is always treated like a star,” she says.
MORE INFORMATION: jamieherzlinger.com
Text by Khristi Zimmeth & Photography by Patrick Cline