From the walls to the worktop and the floor, your kitchen renovation may offer the perfect playground to use reclaimed materials. It is an ideal space to be ambitious as most of us spend a lot of time in our kitchens, and reclaimed elements have already passed the test of time, so they can offer the quality you are looking for in high-impact areas.
It can be hard to source the right quantities of salvaged material for the specific shapes that the room dictates. Still, there are ways to rise to the challenge, which create a design statement and maintain visual clues about a material’s previous life. For my first reclaimed renovation, I worked around said challenges by drawing inspiration from crazy paving to reuse smaller, nonmatching bits of salvaged marble on my bathroom floor. This time around, I got a good deal sourcing pink marble on SalvoWEB salvaged by someone renovating a house locally in London. We will use the pink marble for our new flat’s kitchen worktop and splashback.
I love this kitchen for Avenues, an editing studio in East London, created by Alexander Hills Architects in collaboration with Leleni Studio. The Rosa Aurora (supplied by Leleni) is currently the most popular marble from their range of reclaimed stone. I won’t put the popularity of pink down to the “-core” as installing marble like this with its range of pale rose with crimson details to deep pink with dark blue veins will outlive trends. The colour attracted me, but the clever reuse of marble stair treads for the worktop really sets this design apart.
The marble was rescued by Leleni Studio’s ongoing project to utilise over 2000 m2 of material saved by Catalan stonemason, Alvaro De Torre. After the stonemason’s death, the land was set to be cleared and all materials demolished, but Leleni Studio stepped in and negotiated a short-term lease to prove the potential of the leftover materials. “Stacked on pallets during 40 years of work with the likes of Salvador Dali, stand evidence of the 20-25% wastage per slab produced by the stone industry,” share Leleni Studio founders Alessandra Monarcha and Charlie Paddick.
Due to Alex Hill’s experience with reclaimed architectural elements, Leleni Studio explains how his trust allowed them to propose a more experimental design solution for the worktop. “For the kitchen island area, we used the tapered shape of salvaged stair treads to create a dynamic diagonal pattern. Each piece, selected from offcuts of past projects, was carefully chosen to minimise further waste and combine for a finish full of character.”
The marble for this kitchen was designed, cut to size and refinished by Leleni Studio, so if you are sourcing yourself, here are my tips:
- See the Salvo Directory to find your local reclamation yard or salvage showroom.
- Pay attention to the thickness of your marble when you are mixing pieces for floors, splashbacks and worktops.
- Salvaged marble can be less expensive, but reusing it can mean more innovative designs and more cuts, which means your stone mason will likely cost more.
- Consider making a feature of the fact you have joined cuts of reclaimed marble together by opting for brass inlays. The stunning kitchen of Jason and Nadine Davies, founders of The Architectural Forum is a lesson in how it’s done.
Notable Salvo Code member dealers of architectural antiques and salvage, Jason and Nadine created their refined reclaimed vision with worktops made from marble salvaged from Old Scotland Yard in Westminster and a Carrara marble floor reclaimed from an office block in the city.
- Reclaimed marble can be more forgiving with spills if you choose material with existing marks that feel purposeful in the patina.
- You can find eco-friendly ways to protect your marble worktops. I experimented with vegan furniture wax and Wonder Tin from Planet Detox, who make ethical cleaning products in Devon. So far, I have tested red wine, vinegar and lemon on the back of our reclaimed marble, and the stains did not penetrate after I applied the products. Just try anything on a small, discreet area first.
- Think about using bits of discarded or leftover marble for details around your kitchen. Here, I used leftover pieces of salvaged marble from the bathroom floor in the kitchen of my first reno.
Whatever you do, the results will be unmatched (sorry, I couldn’t resist) as the reclaimed material will likely have you wanting to celebrate it through your design, whether that is to highlight your eco ethos or embrace an eclectic feel.
© Photographs courtesy of Leleni Studio, Alexander Hills Architects, The Architectural Forum & Reclaimed Woman