June 09, 2023
by Juno DeMelo
Photography by Par Bengtssom
Nikki Chu is not a black-and-white thinker. At least, not when it comes to marble.
“A lot of people instinctually choose black and white marble slabs because they feel the most contemporary,” says Chu, who has designed everything from celebrity interiors to phone cases to collections for Z Gallerie and One Kings Lane. (She also hosts Unboxed With Nikki Chu on the aspireTV network.)
When it came time for to renovate her own kitchen, however, Chu’s instinct took her in a bolder direction.
“I knew that I wanted a really dramatic marble,” she says. “Everything else in my house is gallery white, so I wanted the slabs to be extraordinary and a juxtaposition to all the starkness of the white.”
Chu’s Dallas home was built in 1969, “which should tell you everything about what the kitchen looked like,” she says. “I was all about gutting the entire thing and opening it up and making it the heart of the home.”
In the original layout, a wall of the galley-style kitchen was to the left of the front door, and in front of that was the dining room. Chu took that wall down to create one big room and replaced it with an island. She didn’t play it safe here either.
“I didn’t want a traditional style of kitchen, where you have you three pennants over the island and all these uppers and a tile backsplash,” she says. “I entertain a lot, and I wanted my kitchen to feel like a hotel lobby. So I decided to do a waterfall 9-by-5-foot island and a backsplash that was a slab.”
To her surprise, she discovered that Ann Sacks had a slab gallery. “They’re known for the most incredible tile ever,” she says. “When I found out they were opening a slab gallery in Dallas, the synergy was perfect timing.”
She opted for the Ann Sacks Calacatta Viola, which she calls the “hero” of the kitchen. “It was the jumping-off point for everything else. I loved the warmth and depth and the Bordeaux color,” she says. For lighting, she installed sconces on the backsplash and hung a 9-foot chandelier over the island.
“When you see the Calacatta Viola, you say, holy cow, who would have thought to make that decision? There’s so much color and movement, and yet it’s still a very modern, updated kitchen,” she says. “The way I did this kitchen is completely contemporary, but the warmth of this slab takes it to the most high-end, beautiful, unexpected place. I’m obsessed with it.”
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