Hidden Potential, S2E16June 10 2022
The Home Owners
James & Berni
James and Berni had been in this home for twenty six years, and needed help updating it to fit their current needs and lifestyles, which weren’t the same as they were when they moved in over two and a half decades ago. This cute simple home was obviously well-cared for and was perfectly neat and well maintained. In this regard, it was obvious that James and Berni really cared about their home. However, other than that there weren’t any real distinguishing features, with the monotone stucco exterior, nor do there appear to have been any updates made to the design in the past twenty years.
I wanted to help James and Berni refresh their home in a way that made it relevant to their current way of life, and that embraced their two most important passions: family and travel. Additionally, I wanted to help set them up for an international home exchange program, and create a design that was easy to transition from personalized to de-personalized (but still super cozy!) whenever it came time to exchange homes. Ultimately, I wanted a house for them to love, to share, and to always look forward to coming home to.
Before, the exterior didn’t really say much of anything at all. It wasn’t bad. It was neat and clean and well-kept. But it wasn’t current and it was the same as every third house in the neighborhood. Single story stucco L-frame with the exact same floor plan as each of its neighbors.
In addition to re-roofing the entire home (Huber Zip System), I also wanted to use a number of different exterior textures and finishes to help update and differentiate this house. James and Berni lean towards more of a Modern French Country aesthetic, so I used soft lavender and rosemary in the landscaping. For siding, I selected a cedar shake combined with accents of board and batten.
The addition of a new front yard patio created an instant feeling of warmth and community. A new front door, freshly painted garage door, and updated exterior color scheme work wonders to set this home apart from all those surrounding it.
Before, the galley kitchen seemed way too small to accommodate this four-bedroom cottage. We were able to increase the kitchen size three-fold by removing a number of brick pony walls, and relocating the former den into the front of the home. Classic finishes help give this home the luxury cottage feel that James and Berni love, and that they hope will appeal to other world travelers looking to explore their home state of California.
Marquez Wood Floors installed finish throughout the entire first floor, including the kitchen, making the newly open floor plan feel cohesive and, well, really big! This was a perfect flooring selection for this property because of the durability and ease of maintenance.
Cabinets & Hardware
Rich, green perimeter cabinets immediately draw the eye into this new kitchen, and the (enormous) soft gray island needs no added introduction. Matte black hardware feels bold and solid, helping to ground this large, open space.
Plumbing & Appliances
Stainless steel appliances feel timeless, while matte black plumbing fixtures offer an interesting alternative to the more typical chrome or nickel while still remaining neutral and polished. (Not literally polished, but figuratively, that is!) A white, granite composite sink feels classic and just a tad bit softer than the stainless alternative.
Countertops & Backsplash
Polished, calcutta-look porcelain counters (Marble Yard Inc) are beautiful AND far more durable than their natural stone counterparts. Again, for a rental exchange, durability was key in this design. For a sleek, modern accent, we carried the porcelain slabs up the walls to create a seamless looking backsplash. Sometimes simplicity can have the biggest impact, and choosing to use the same material for both the counters and backsplash on this project is a great example of this.
Special Project | Tray-Stow-Away :I wanted to bring some more wood tones into this kitchen in a way that felt more solid than a few island-top accessories. So, I contacted Micah from Girelli Designs to custom build and install a special walnut entertaining nook in the side of the island, complete with storage for two beautiful walnut serving trays.
Special Project | Walnut Knife Block : Berni told me that her mother had a set of knives displayed on her backsplash in a way Berni had always admired, so I decided to make Berni a custom, wall-mount magnetic knife block all her own. This was a fun DIY project that created a functional, meaningful accessory that will help personalize this home from the very start.
No longer a dark forgotten corridor, all this entryway really needed was a little love. Cue a bench, some coat hooks, and a big mirror and voila! You’ve got yourself an entryway that feels intentional, functional, and welcoming.
The Living Room
Before, this living room was weighed down with carpet, dark heavy built-in cabinets, and dark heavy brick pony walls and fireplace. While we weren’t originally intending to remove the fireplace, it ended up being unstable and had to be taken out. This ended up being a blessing in disguise, as the removal of the fireplace ultimately opened up the entire space and allowed us to rework the design for the den. Wood-look floors help the room to feel connected to the rest of the design, while rugs and a conversational seating plan help define the space.
Special Project | Reading Nook and Convertible Gallery/Art Wall: Removing all those walls and cabinets created such a huge, open space that we ended up having this extra wall on which to install an unexpected seating area. Perfect for a conversation, cup of coffee, or reading a novel, while still being a part of whatever is happening in the kitchen, living, and dining areas.
Additionally, since this house is being used as an occasional rental, it is important to be able to make guests feel at home, which means being able to depersonalize the house easily and efficiently. This custom gallery wall doubles as a more general (but still super cool!) feature art piece. It almost feels like a series of international flags, which feels on pointe for this couple. I got to go to a local laser cutting company (Build It Workspace) and watch a laser burn each pattern into these panels. So awesome! When the couple is away, the flags fly, but when they are home, they can flip the flags over to reveal a gallery wall of family photos printed onto wood (Woodsnap).
The Dining Room
Before, the immaculate dining room sat inside of a brick room divider, making it all feel a bit like a VIP seating area in an Italian restaurant. Removing those walls, plus a bunch of others, allowed us to move the dining room into the former den area. Adding a wall of sliding panel glass doors (Panoramic Doors) made the room feel bright and open, inviting the outdoors in – in true indoor-outdoor SoCal living fashion.
Before, the den sat at the back of the house in a converted fourth bedroom, making it feel closed off from the rest of the house, and also limiting the kitchen to a tiny little galley sliver. Moving the den to the front of the house allowed it to feel more like a continuation of the living room, that can be closed off for privacy or solitude when needed. Antique chippy green doors from India (RJ Imports) hint at the couple’s proclivity for travel. A custom ceiling treatment (Astek) feels like a modern spin on the tin ceilings found in quaint French village bistros.
Special Project | Library-Wrapped Day Bed : Removing the fireplace opened up the entire corner of this den, allowing Brian (B and D Cabinets) and I to design and install a custom library-wrapped daybed. This den needed to function as an office, a retreat, and an occasional guest room, and this extra-ordinary built-in helps to serve all three of those functions, managing to look pretty darn cute all the while.
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