Holly Phillips is inspired by color. As an interior designer, and owner of The English Room in Charlotte, North Carolina, she is known for bold color, often through the use of layered accessories and contemporary art.
“Color makes me happy and I think it certainly can affect people’s moods. I can appreciate neutral designs, but need color in my life,” she says. Phillips likes to quote artist Georgia O’Keefe: “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”
So it comes as a bit of a surprise that for the One Room Challenge, Phillips chose to redo her kitchen in all white.
One Room Challenge is a bi-annual event that showcases 20 designers/influencers vetted and selected by the ORC team. The event, which kicks off the first Wednesday of every April and October, aims to inspire, entertain, and inform the audience of new ideas and trends in the world of home design.
Phillips’ choice of white was forward thinking, as she looked ahead to how would she feel about the kitchen a few years down the line. “I knew as much as I am a color lover I didn’t want to go crazy with a color I would want to change.” For a time she considered all black but in the end white was her monochrome of choice.
White Cherokee marble in honed finish.
The great thing about Philip’s white kitchen is that it’s white, but not white.There are pops of color in layered elements like upholstered fuchsia bar chairs, an eye catching New Ravenna Astronomy stone and brass mosaic backsplash, charming butterfly motif, Osborne & Little curtains on windows that overlook a verdant exterior, and a vintage Turkish runner from Charlotte Rug Gallery. These are surprising and delightful additions to the white kitchen and they make it clean, light and bright. Lively. Not laboratory.
You could say Philips knows every nook and cranny of the house. She probably played in many of them as a child. Her parents built the home in 1963. “They loved Williamsburg and wanted to build an architecturally correct home,” she says. She loved it too; she and her husband bought the house from her parents, and moved in earlier this year.
Phillips was dreaming of a new kitchen for years, even before she bought the house. “We had a tight, poorly designed kitchen in our last home. We were about to do a renovation on that kitchen before we decided to move,” she says.
When Phillips took part in the One Room Challenge, she had six weeks to transform a room in her home from start to finish, while documenting the journey on her blog and social media. She saw a way of finally getting to her dream: “As a designer, it is kind of like the cobbler’s children who do not have shoes. I often pass off my projects to focus on those for clients. The One Room Challenge has been the best way to get me to get my own projects done. I am a terrible procrastinator so I need to have a deadline.”
The new kitchen is a space that is very personal, reflecting her eclectic style, the things she loves, and one that family and guests can feel very comfortable in. Center to this welcoming space is an expansive marble waterfall island.
“I had my heart set on a light marble for the kitchen,” Phillip says.
She found her stone source when One Room Challenge founder, Linda Weinstein of Calling It Home, suggested Polycor as a partner brand.
“Polycor was a great match. Not only because the natural stone is beautiful, but because I love the fact that the stone is quarried and processed locally in North America,” Phillips said. “I love the living locally element.”
“This is one of the most homogenous marbles, and is used in large architectural projects and American heritage building restorations. It’s also an excellent choice for countertops because it is considered very strong for a marble,” Phillips said.
When it came to cabinetry, the designer knew she wanted a range wall flanked by symmetrical cabinets. “I have a strong need for symmetry,” she said. The brass pendants from Hudson Valley Lighting, a sconce over the sink from Crystorama and brass cabinet hardware from Emtek add glamour and warmth to what could have been a stark looking space.
Perhaps the best part of this One Room Challenge is how it flows so beautifully into adjoining spaces. Just like a real party that begins in the kitchen, this one flows to the bar, the butler’s pantry (or scullery) and on into the laundry room for the clean up phase.
American Black granite in honed finish.
For the laundry room and scullery (the kitchen’s working area where all the cutting, chopping and dirty work happens), the designer chose granite because she knew the surfaces needed to be extra tough.
Phillips paired the American Black granite countertops with striking true blue cabinetry andfolk art inspired ceramic Blue Star tiles from The Tile Shop.
She loved the ultra-hard wearing, natural American Black granite for its subtle flowing movement reminiscent of marble. It has the pronounced white veining of marble, but none of the maintenance like etching or staining. Just what Phillips needed for her scullery. “The American Black is stunning and such an interesting material because it looks like soapstone without the maintenance,” Phillips says.
Saint Henry Black granite in honed finish.
Close up of the granite surface with mega crystals.
For the bar she chose Saint Henry Black granite, which Phillips appreciated for its metallic black crystals and light catching movement. “It is a little dressier than the other spaces,” she says. And it looks beautiful with the bar areas’ delightful Florence Brodhurst Egrets wallpaper.
Since the White Cherokee marble, American Black granite, and Saint Henry Black granite passed the Holly Phillips taste test, there’s a lot to recommend to clients. “I only use products I love. I would never share something I wouldn’t use myself.”
This One Room Challenge finished up just in time for the holidays and the exuberant design of the new kitchen has injected fresh life into both Phillips’ childhood home and her love for entertaining.
“I have cooked more in the past month than I have in years.” Phillips says.