Spotlights

Spotlight on: Michelle Nussbaumer

Meet Michelle Nussbaumer, the extraordinary interior designer behind House Beautiful’s 2019 Kitchen of the Year. What makes Michelle’s kitchen so special? Well, for starters, she didn’t just design one kitchen in her home—she designed FOUR kitchens, each more dramatic, eye-catching and luxurious than the next! Join us as we learn more about our favorite maximalist designer.

All photography by Douglas Friedman.

Michelle’s interior design career has reigned for 30 years. When Michelle is not designing projects around the world and leading her renowned showroom, Ceylon et Cie, she’s searching for her next source of inspiration.

“I’m a curious person, I always have been,” Michelle said. “I love traveling, nature and visiting forgotten properties. Before the iPhone, I used to sketch details that caught my eye. Wherever I go in the world, I take pictures, whether it be museums or a trim on someone’s dress sitting next to me. The world is full of inspiration. Yo­­­­u just have to look for it.”

The Main Kitchen: Bold, Patterned & Unique

From a stunning Mayan-inspired mural to dramatic accents of our Rosso Marquina trim tile around the window, Michelle left no detail forgotten.

Why did you choose to incorporate Rosso Marquina?

“It’s stunning, bold and dramatic. From all of The Tile Shop’s beautiful marbles, I felt this one stood out, and I knew that I could create something special with it,” Michelle explained. “I also love the variety of profiles and trim. There are so many fantastic ways to use it.”

Michelle beautifully executed the colorful cabinetry kitchen trend. On one end of the kitchen stands daring blue and soft pink cabinets to lighten the mood of the kitchen. The opposite side of the space displays dominate, black cabinetry with a unique sculptural design. The strong contrast between the opposing cabinets completes the kitchen’s dramatic presentation.

Rosso Marquina Skirting gorgeously accentuates the door frame.

How did you create the black sculptural cabinets?

“I had in my inspiration folders for many years—a Louise Nevelson sculpture that I had taken a picture of in New York,” Michelle said. “I have been thinking for years of a way to create cabinetry based off this. I literally glued all of the pieces on with the carpenter and it took forever!” 

The Cocktail Bar: Opulent, Provocative & Bespoke


Tell us about the iconic mural! What inspired you to pick this piece and recreate it on wallpaper?

“I was looking for an art deco bar that felt like we were somewhere else in time and yet still current. I had taken the photo of the mural years ago and saved it. With the help of Paul Montgomery studios, we brought to life the spectacular image. It’s based on the story written by Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book,” Michelle said.

Michelle continued designing with the opulent theme with Marmi Classico Nero Venato Silk Porcelain tile flooring. The white and gold veining, satin-black marble look and soft finish make this selection as smooth as it is sleek.

The Art Kitchen: Private, Psychedelic & Emblematic 

Behold, the art of maximalism. Maximalists strive to design bolder, brighter, busier and bigger. With “more is more” in mind, Michelle designed her kitchen with personality, worldly wallpapers and bohemian decor.

Featured: Provenzal Black

What does maximalism in design mean to you?

“Minimalism has reigned for many years. However, I have always been a maximalist. While others were doing less, I have been holding the course for more,” Michelle explained. “It’s just simply what I’ve always been drawn to and loved since the beginning of my career. I guess the rest of the world finally caught up.”

“People should live in what makes them happy.”—Michelle Nussbaumer, founder of Ceylon et Cie.

What is your response to people who are afraid of designing boldly?

“Beige and white are not colors. I live and design in Technicolor. I personally don’t ever want to live in a sterile, white-box type of laboratory. I think that people should live in what makes them happy. For me, that’s pattern. There are so many ways to incorporate color and pattern, and I think sometimes people forget about the floors, which are an easy place to start,” Michelle said.

Michelle incorporated Provenzal Black’s rustic shape to help increase the room’s old-world appeal.
Featured: Provenzal Black and Noir Honed Durand

What is your favorite kitchen out of all of the Kitchen of the Year spaces?

“That would be really hard to choose,” Michelle replied. “But I would say that I feel most at home in the Art Kitchen. It is my own private space, so I created a room that is very personal to me. It’s comfortable, cozy and inviting. And quite a few of my favorite things are in this room.”

The Speakeasy: Whimsical, Creative & Amusing

Eye-catching looks of stone and glamorous gold features create an ambiance of grandeur and charm. Stone-look tiles perfectly elevate this space with their rich stone appearance and the durability of porcelain.

What do you like most about working with tile?

“I love tile, and I love any material that create new patterns and backdrops for my design. The Tile Shop has such a huge array, and there are so many ways to combine your products and create something so completely individual and different. I mixed faux-marble porcelain tiles with real marble to create a very luxurious and sumptuous space,” Michelle said.

Do you have the same design taste and ambition as Michelle, but lack the design expertise? Have no fear! Let us take the intimidation out of the equation. Schedule a free design consultation with one of our tile design experts.

Find more interior design inspiration at House Beautiful.

Follow Michelle Nussbaumer, Ceylon et Cie and House Beautiful on Instagram.

All photography by Douglas Friedman.

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