A mix of influences plays off the power of a single orange wall in this ocean front kitchen.
The outside of this vintage waterfront redo on South Carolina’s Sullivan’s Island honors the past, as well as the building codes that preserve it. But inside, nonconformity rules. The kitchen—at the center of an open plan that includes dining and living areas and a butler’s pantry—busts out of the expected beach-house box with a blast of orange.
“The clients and I both love orange and how it references the ’60s, so I began the kitchen with this glossy orange tile,” American interior designer Edith Royall says. “They didn’t want a typical beach house, but more of a European style with some modernity to complement their personalities.” A single wall sporting the bright orange tiles exudes enough energy to jump-start each morning for the couple and their two young children, who call the island home year-round.
A pair of simple two-over-two cottage windows and a stainless-steel range hood keep the strong color in check.
The orange wall is further softened by extra-tall cabinets that rest atop the counter and reach almost to the thick crown molding. “Storage was a major issue, so we used every available inch,” says the designer, who persuaded the homeowners to go with a gray finish rather than white. “I wanted gray cabinets for depth,” she says.
“Too much gray can be depressing, though,” cautions Royall, who veered a different direction for the island by staining its walnut a dark hue to visually connect with the ebony finish on the hardwood floors.
The gray on the perimeter cabinets teams well with the orange tile and the crisp white of the mill-work and marble countertops. It also underscores the silver hues of the sleek hood and the pressed-tin ceiling. The adjoining spaces in the open plan feature white tray ceilings, so the tin provides additional dramatic definition to make the kitchen pop.
Because the kitchen is a segment of a larger space, it was important that it fit aesthetically with the adjacent areas.
The solution was to equip a narrow, out-of-the-way butler’s pantry with the more hardworking elements, including the refrigerators, a food pantry, and extra storage for dinnerware.
The pantry frees up the kitchen to make a more significant style statement. French cafe chairs lend European charm, and clear-glass chandeliers provide elegant transparency. “In this kitchen,” Royall says, “it’s all about the views—seeing through to the ocean outside, or to what’s across the room.”
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