About an hour east of San Francisco, nestled among the coastal hills, a 1960’s-era California Ranch style home on expansive grounds had remained largely unchanged from its original form; a testament to the appreciation for the modernist movement. However, the original layout of the house lacked the architectural elements essential for connecting the flow between indoors and out. A missed opportunity, given the region’s near-perfect, year-round weather.
Our team of designers, along with our trusted colleagues — builders and landscape experts — envisioned a new-millennium makeover for the residents — a family of five who love to cook and entertain. Combining a vintage feel with a modern and industrial aesthetic, the couple’s objective was an artful blend of locally and sustainably sourced items to complement their personalities and their unpretentious, laid-back lifestyle.
We started in the kitchen where LMBI’s senior designer Quinn Morgan changed the floor plans on the rancher’s kitchen to reposition a set of French doors leading to one of the home’s many outdoor patios. Opposite the new doors, a portal surrounded by spacious, floor-to-ceiling cabinets opens to the formal dining room. This new opening improved flow, convenience, and access from the updated kitchen, expertly executed by our building partners, Berkeley-based McCutcheon Construction.
Befitting a gourmet, high-end appliances ensconced in gray/white granite flank a spacious center island, topped with honed black granite which provides plenty of room for prepping meals, sipping morning coffee, or kibitzing with the cook. Custom-made Koa wood stools provide perches around the quartzite counters and lend natural warmth to the kitchen’s muted color palette.
Part of the former kitchen, the bay window created a cozy place for a custom-designed built-in settee and table. Upholstered in soft leather and surrounded by windows, the booth accommodates casual family meals, homework, or curling up with a book in a sunny corner. Hidden, motorized shades protect diners from low, afternoon sun. The rustic, kid-proof table was fabricated from the wooden beams once used to support barrels in an old winery.
We also added a mudroom-landing zone for the kids next to the kitchen, with cubbies for each and benches upholstered in performance leather.
For the couple’s frequent — and more formal — affairs, we customized a double-wide dining room table, to comfortably accommodate 10. Upholstered with a tightly woven fabric, the mid-century inspired chairs complement the texture and color of the mustard-colored, natural grass wallpaper. To contrast the primarily subtle monochromatic palette used throughout the house, our client specified the dining room be her favorite color – yellow — to create a cheerful place for her guests to feel engaged and joyful.
The focal point of this room is a large, convex mirror, which captures a wide-angle view of the room in its reflection. Above, we selected an industrial-inspired chandelier of hand-blown globes in varying sizes and shapes. Below, we anchored the room with a soft, tufted wool area rug that subtly unifies all elements with a natural, bohemian chic pattern. The clients’ existing sideboard, styled with vintage garden tools and vintage mid-century lamps expresses her love of gardening.
The centerpiece of the house, into which the new entry leads, and off of which all other entertaining rooms connect, is the Mad-Men-inspired living room, with hideaway bar closet, sassy pop-of-color chairs in sumptuous tangerine velvet, plenty of seating for guests, prominent displays of modern art, and a grand piano upon which to play music of course, as well as against which to lean fabulously, resting one’s elbow, with a drink in one’s other hand.
Adjacent to the dining room, the large, comfortably appointed family room features vaulted ceilings with exposed beams and an impressive chandelier. An exquisitely-crafted custom-designed entertainment center fabricated by our local woodworker partner, balances the weight of the dark wall opposite and tones down the focus on the television. Twin French doors on opposite sides of the entertainment center lead to a central patio furnished with comfortable outdoor lounge furniture.
Another extra-long sofa was also custom-designed and fabricated to our specifications by a local upholsterer. Flanked with period-perfect sconces, the sofa is complemented by a comfortable swivel chair and leather bench. A vintage game table completes the feel of the room and also gets plenty of use.
The peaked main wall, painted in a dark gray, lends understated drama, acting as a beautiful backdrop for a Robert Kingston painting. The custom woven tan, indigo, and rust-colored Navajo rug add color and texture to complete the warm feel of the room.
The powder room, adjacent to the mudroom, received a facelift: Textured grass walls replaced black stripes, and the clients’ existing fixtures were re-plated in bronze. The addition of a custom fixture above the mirror completed the room.
Taking advantage of that gorgeous weather, a key element of the transformation was the installation of a professionally equipped outdoor kitchen featuring top-of-the-line appliances and a built-in smoker. Custom-stained concrete counters atop durable, naturally weather-resistant ipe wood cabinetry and vintage folding bar stools completed the handsome-yet-homey-yet-rugged farmhouse feel.