What’s the key to timeless home design? Will subway tile always be in style? We put those questions—and more—to kitchen and bath whisperer Laura Medicus, who has been designing functional spaces that feel classic, clean, and calm since launching her eponymous Littleton-based interior design firm in 2011. Here’s what she had to say.
5280 Home: You have a way with making spaces feel fresh but never trendy. What are the key ingredients for a timeless kitchen or bath?
Laura Medicus: Simple, good-quality cabinetry will never go out of style and should last a lifetime—and sometimes more! Natural stones like soapstone, marble, and quartzite will age nicely, as will a simple, non-patterned backsplash with a neutral grout. Pair this with a metal like chrome (yes, I like chrome!) or polished nickel and you’re set.
Chrome! Are there other design conventions you choose to ignore?
“Stick to one wood.” I think white oak and walnut pair beautifully. It’s also perfectly wonderful to mix metals.
What’s your take on the ubiquitous subway tile?
I think subway tiles are like blue jeans. They will come in and out of favor, with some people always liking them, others never liking them, and the rest of us kind of swinging with the trend-o-meter. But there are twists happening to subway tile: The trend is for longer, skinnier tiles. I like the look of them stacked end to end, or stacked in a grid horizontally.
What other finishes are you obsessing over right now?
For kitchens I’m loving soapstone, butcher block, marble, and unexpected color. I’m a huge fan of natural stone with wood in a kitchen. For bathrooms I love the warmth of brass, natural wood, and the unevenness of handmade tile. There’s something wonderful about warmth and texture in a bathroom.
What’s the quickest way to spiff up that space?
Update your bathroom mirror and wall light. Big retail stores like CB2, Schoolhouse, and Rejuvenation all have fantastic mirrors right now, or browse local antique and vintage stores like Art District Antiques on Santa Fe for something more unique. And think of the vanity light as jewelry—not like something you’d use to land an airplane with.
And for the kitchen?
Practice restraint with superstar design elements. Think one big moment—say, a backsplash that extends to the ceiling—not five little moments, which can create visual chaos.
Wood countertops. They soften up a kitchen and are humble yet luxurious—and that’s a winning combination.