Style Watch

Pompeii punch

Eye-catching hues inspired by ancient Roman frescoes brighten up this Cambridge kitchen.

“The space has been ornamented to have a lot of character,” says John Tittmann. “It doesn’t feel like a kitchen; it feels like a beautiful room.”

Greg Premru

“The space has been ornamented to have a lot of character,” says John Tittmann. “It doesn’t feel like a kitchen; it feels like a beautiful room.”

Greg Premru

While the kitchen of John and Mary Tittmann’s Cambridge Greek Revival was functional, they wanted a larger dining area and a nook for reading and watching television. John, a principal in the Boston firm Albert, Righter & Tittmann Architects, devised a 3-foot bump-out that had a big impact. More spacious and comfortable now, the room also has dramatic visual appeal: Tittmann created a bold scheme based on the colors used in ancient Pompeii’s vibrant frescoes. The room is organized around an area painted black and an orangey red; three alcoves, painted green and blue, contain windows and doors. “The strong colors can feel very comforting,” he says. “We spend more time in the kitchen than ever before.”

1 | Lower cabinets are painted black. “In typical Pompeiian fresco schemes, black was used as a wainscot color — it made sense to paint the cabinets black since they are wainscot height,” Tittmann says.


2 | Open shelves are situated above the dishwasher. “When the dishes are dry, there’s no moving around or opening of doors to put them away,” Tittmann says. The shelves are painted Autumn Cover by Benjamin Moore. (The architect studied up on ancient hues to find modern-day paint with similar pigmentation.)

3 | The refrigerator is concealed behind black panels, “making the kitchen feel less utilitarian,” says Tittmann.

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4 | By moving the kitchen wall out 3 feet, he made space for a longer table that could occupy the middle of the room, with a sitting area to one side.

5 | When its two leaves are in place, the cherry and European beech dining table Tittmann designed and built with the help of a master craftsman measures 90 inches long. For a touch of whimsy, its legs recall those of a ballerina.

6 | Floor-to-ceiling shelves of various sizes transform one corner of the space into a cheery mini library.


7 | Trim work fashioned like Ionic columns was used to define the room’s three portals. The columns’ long and skinny proportions “worked perfectly for this room,” says the architect.

8 | The couple inherited an early 20th-century chair originally used as a passenger seat on a dirigible, had another one made to match, and upholstered both in black fabric with white piping. “The chairs are very compact yet very comfortable,” says Tittmann.

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