Photography by Alex Zafour @virtuallyherestudios
We’ve always been passionate about reclaimed materials and remain true to our roots by regularly travelling to Spain to source the kind of rare and reclaimed pieces that first inspired the creation of Bert & May.
While they’re all undeniably beautiful, what makes these finds extra special are the stories they tell - each piece is totally unique, with a distinct character imparted by time.
When we find these items, it’s just the beginning of their next chapter, and in many instances they end up in properties all over the world. In the case of this stunning project, a set of our reclaimed tiles found their way to California, and they couldn't look more at home in their new surroundings.
The lady responsible for their transatlantic journey is Kirsten Blazek, CEO/Founder of A1000xBetter, a Los Angeles-based design firm responsible for the kind of projects we absolutely love (think interesting textures, natural materials and an overall feel of laid-back luxury).
Kirsten started A1000xBetter seven years ago, and it grew quickly. “The business started as a home staging company and then merged into both staging and full-service interior design. I started the business as a second career at the age of 40 following my divorce and it has been quite the whirlwind. I had no formal training in design and learned everything through hands-on experience. I have been blessed to be able to hire a wonderful team who all help make the magic happen.
“We do mainly residential interior design projects that range from decorating jobs to full remodels, and we all take such pleasure in helping make our clients’ dreams come true and providing them with beautiful homes we feel are reflective of them and functional to live in.”
While she designs home interiors according to client specifications, Kirsten’s distinct personal interior style is the key to her success, and it’s a look that’s directly informed by her life to date. “I grew up in Scotland and moved to America in my late 20s. Even though I am from the UK (and still feel very Scottish) I have a very strong affiliation and connection to the American Southwest, and Native American culture,” she says. “I also love a bit of a rock ‘n’ roll edge so I would describe my personal style as ‘rocker meets the southwest.’”
What this translates to is an effortless look that’s still luxurious; schemes that are full of one-off pieces, intriguing layers and textures, and a feel that’s truly timeless. “I love earth tones and incorporating vintage pieces into my spaces to give them a unique and interesting perspective,” says Kirsten. “I like a layered but not too fussy interior so your eye can land on all the good things but not be too overwhelmed, and I am obsessed with colour and how colours work together so that the whole house feels cohesive and flows from room to room.”
With an aesthetic so closely aligned to our own, we were thrilled when Kirsten used our reclaimed tiles in a breathtaking home refurbishment project in California, and the design story was one we couldn't wait to hear.
“Our Malibu Canyon project was unique in that the homeowners had purchased the home and then promptly moved to Canada for filming,” says Kirsten. “They were incredible clients who trusted in our vision for their new home and gave us a lot of creative freedom. The house had beautiful bones - it is a California ranch-style home - and was in an amazing, tranquil setting with a stream and horses in the backyard.”
While its surroundings were a dream, the property’s decor didn’t quite live up to its stand-out location, and that’s where Kirsten came in. “It felt tired and outdated and definitely didn’t feel right for a hip young family,” she says. “We were able to take the character of the home and make it shine through paint, lighting, bathroom upgrades and the kitchen remodel.”
Once the basics were in place and an overall scheme decided, attentions shifted to finishing touches, and Kirsten turned to Bert & May to help add reclaimed character to the kitchen. “Once we set the colour palette we were on the hunt for a statement kitchen tile that was completely unique. Being big fans of Bert & May it was one of the first places I looked and I was very fortunate to find the tiles,” she says.
“We ended up using a reclaimed design that was available at the time. We loved the pattern, colours and the fact that it felt like it had character and history, just like the home itself did. The clients loved it as much as we did and we chose to make the stove wall the statement wall since it was visible from all areas of the open living space.”
Like us, Kirsten loves the feel reclaimed tiles can bring to a space, and the stories they tell. “I love the fact they have history, there is a mystery behind where they came from and I love thinking about where they lived before,” she says. “I love the character and the patina on the finish and the fact that no one else in the world has them…”
Find out more about Kirsten’s projects and company here