A bland exterior, yet beautiful “bones” attracted Chicago buyers to a San Diego home. Harboring dreams of adding a mid-century flair with a modern touch, they saw the rounded columns, soffits and arches of the Art Deco style strewn throughout the rooms, blocking out windows and views, and said they wanted light. This was when Alison Green, CKBD, who was a senior interior designer with Jackson Design and Remodeling (JDR) at the time the project was completed was brought in to maximize the amount of natural light that made it into the home.
While they provided the style ideas, though, the homeowners were mostly absent during the renovation. In fact, Green walked the house with the residential designer David Hall and the project director but without the clients, which gave them the opportunity to brainstorm the creative ideas she would present.
Opening the Kitchen With Welcoming Hues
To achieve optimal lighting conditions, walls, arches and columns had to go. In addition, the team decided to flip the location of the kitchen and dining room. This change resulted in connecting the kitchen to the living space. Luckily, none of these elements were supporting walls, so the changes did not challenge the home’s structural integrity.
“We played with the idea of just removing the walls and keeping the rooms in their areas, but it really limited the kitchen storage, and it would have been more like a galley kitchen,” said Green. “It wouldn’t have given them everything they wanted, as far as appliances. Moving the rooms made it possible to include a large island and helped with flow and functionality of the kitchen being open to the living room, which is something they really wanted.”
Following the improved layout, Green and the team worked on infusing the kitchen with the client’s style, as well as a warm palette. Throughout this process the team kept in close contact with the clients, proposing ideas and getting feedback.
Initially, Green recommended all espresso cabinets to juxtapose the lighter elements like the countertop and blacksplash, as well as the light itself that was pouring through a new door opening in the dining area. The clients, however, felt as though the choice would still be too dark, so lighter upper cabinets were incorporated instead. That switch then gave her the opportunity to play with texture in laminate upper cabinets.
Brightening up the Second Floor Bathroom
The son’s bathroom soon became the next focal point of the project. Here, cosmetic changes modernized the space and allowed for a fun blue tile in the shower – again incorporating texture with its 3D hexagon pattern.
“Almost everything else in the home is neutral, but when you come up the stairs and get to the top landing and this bathroom door is wide open, you see it,” said the designer. “So they knew they wanted that back wall to be something cool.”
Other than the pop of blue, the bathroom reflects the home’s simple palette. Green kept the bathroom’s layout but chose a shorter vanity to make space for linen storage and a hamper.
Overcoming the Challenge of the Primary Bath
Following the other areas of the house, the next location was altered sparingly, yet still provided a significant hurdle to the team. In addition to being a closet bathroom, the client requested that the shower there be turned into a curbless shower.
First, Green closed off the closet with doors and added and entrance door from the bedroom to the bathroom.
Next, came the shower. Positioned on the second level of the home, the installers needed space to be able to drop the linear drain at the end of the shower. To accommodate the slope, Green needed to create a soffit for piping in the room below.
A wall separating the shower and toilet area from the vanity was replaced with a pony wall and topped with glass to still demarcate the shower but keep the room bright. To add warm mid-century style, the designer selected walnut and gray porcelain. In the shower niche, the accent tile set in antique brown brings in more warmth.
“We kept it seamless and simple,” she said. “I didn’t want a lot of color in there; it’s their sanctuary.”
“The kitchen sets the tone – it has dark wood with white, but it also brings in warmth with laminate,” said Green. “You see this warmth in other spaces, and you see the white countertops in other spaces.”
In the end, balancing the home the clients wanted and the one they needed was a significant priority and challenge for the team. With the homeowners being present only at intervals to make material selections and see the project progress, it was paramount that Green and the team develop a strong relationship of trust between them and the clients.
Another version of this article originally appeared in KBB Online.