Two San Diego designers helped these homeowners transform their 1970s home overlooking a national forest into a fresh, European-style escape. The kitchen originally was not on the couple’s to-do list, but they soon decided to remodel it too. The plan required removing a wall to get an open-concept kitchen. Now the couple can enjoy their views and more sunshine while drinking their morning coffee and entertaining guests.
“After” photos by Andy McRory Photography
Kitchen at a Glance
Who lives here: A professional couple and their cat
Location: Alpine, California
Size: 500 square feet (46.5 square meters)
Designer: Susie St. John and Karyn Sklar of embrio design studio
The homeowners originally hesitated on remodeling the kitchen because it had been remodeled seven years earlier. But to get a completely cohesive feel, designer Susie St. John of embrio design studio says, they needed to remodel the kitchen too. The addition of the kitchen meant spending more money on the project, so the homeowners decided to do much of the project coordination. St. John and Karyn Sklar, also of embrio design studio, came up with plans and materials, and coordinated with the homeowners to ensure they had all the details they needed to carry out the design.
All the while, one of the homeowners was working in Amsterdam and traveling between there and California. When the homeowner was in town, the designers would set up any meetings with her. They carried out the rest of their business via technology, which the designers say was not a problem.
“The clients really have to have a lot of trust in the designer because they aren’t able to look at everything in person,” St. John says.
“Before” photos from embrio design studio
BEFORE: The kitchen, while functional, did not have the clean, simple lines the couple wanted. Instead, it had a more traditional feel and was closed off from the rest of the home.
The new kitchen is simplified, with no upper cabinets or shelves. What cabinets do exist are from Ikea. The couple chose black cabinets with a wood effect and white cabinets that had a smooth, matte finish. They also painted the ceiling white to add height and brightness to the space.
The kitchen island, which holds the only sink in the kitchen, is about 3 feet wide and 10 feet long. They used Carrara marble for the countertops and backsplash. The owners weren’t sold on using marble throughout because of its popularity right now, which might make it feel dated in a few years. But the designers convinced them that the material would remain timeless, St. John says.
For flooring, they chose sapele wood, which is smooth with a matte finish. The flooring continues into the guest bedroom.
Black cabinets: Tingsryd, Ikea; white cabinets: Veddinge, Ikea
See more of this California home
The designers saved the couple money by using modular cabinetry instead of custom built-ins. Because the cabinets weren’t custom, they did end up with a few little gaps, but the designers turned them into a place to showcase treasures. Above the refrigerator, the couple displays their miniature houses from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines collected from the years of traveling between Amsterdam and the United States.
“Relocating art and treasures such as these to a new spot in the home breathes new life … into something that might otherwise have gone unnoticed,” St. John says. “Now these pieces are highlighted in the perfect way.”
The couple can keep the essentials on the countertop and tuck away the rest in the lower cabinets.
The kitchen and the dining room were divided by walls, which made entertaining more difficult and blocked the view to the backyard.
The designers recommended removing the walls to create one large entertaining space.
AFTER: When the wall was removed, the ceiling was simplified and the existing wood beams were emphasized. The old wall stood between what is now the kitchen island and dining room rug. This wall removal allows the homeowners and guests to flow into the dining area and take in the views of the Cleveland National Forest.
The designers used the rug to anchor the dining room. They picked an airy pendant light to hang above the table so that it wouldn’t block any views. The table came from a local consignment store. “Sometimes people bring in some amazing furniture, and if you are there at the right time, you can pick that stuff up,” St. John says. They surrounded the table with Eames Eiffel chairs.
Pendant light: Cosmo Pendant Light, Crate & Barrel
The homeowner displays her grandmother’s china on the table. In the background, an old record player stands against the wall, topped with a lamp and art gallery wall.
via Kitchen of the Week: Open Concept Brings In Light and Views