Facing a large remodel, whether several rooms or an entire house, it can be hard to imagine bringing a whole team together from the start. But I can tell you, having completed several homes like this where we — designer, architect, and contractor — meet regularly with each other and the client from the beginning, rather than the client hiring us in stages or working with us separately, the results are absolutely worth it.
Recently my firm completed a fabulous project: a complete remodel in Marin County. The original structure was built in 1920 and had been added onto and revised repeatedly over the decades to become the spacious 4-bedroom, 5-bathroom estate that it is today. The new homeowners, Ken and Pam Hirsch, felt the flaws in the layout immediately, particularly in the kitchen, and were seeking to improve their forever home before moving in, so they hired architect Debbi Peterson.
Debbi describes the challenges we faced with the house: “It had this great presence, the lot and the landscaping and the approach. But once you were inside the home, that broke down. There was no real symmetry. It had been remodeled many times with many different aesthetics. There was this feeling of not knowing who the house was. The main living spaces had really great access, but everything was not symmetrical. The biggest challenge was the kitchen. It was basically a walk-through to the back hall. We made it a destination. We regained the symmetry and created a balanced, calm, beautiful space that gives the sense of ‘I’m home.’”
This is LMB Interiors’ fourth collaboration with Debbi. She referred us at the very beginning of the project, and it was a dream match — for our firm with Debbi, for both of us with the clients’ trusted contractor, Paul Wojtczak of Wojak Construction, and for me as a designer with the Hirsches.
Debbi notes, “Design is a collaborative effort. We — architect, designer, contractor, and homeowner — all come to the table with differing points of view. As the architect, I’m thinking about the bones of the house, the floor plan, the layout. Laura is focused on finishes, beauty, and color, and furnishings. The contractor is the ‘how,’ implementing the building plans. The homeowner is focused on how they are going to live and what they want to experience.
“When you have all of these pieces working together, there’s a synergy. Things get brought up by another person that you might never have thought of on your own. This creates a better, richer project in the end,” adds Debbi. “It also helped that Laura and I have worked together before. We have that comfort level with each other and we know each other’s processes.”
Our team met weekly during the early phases of the project, and then less frequently as the project progressed. Collaborating with a great architect is a gift. Debbi is so talented, and she’s funny, and she has so much experience! Her talent is well represented in this house, in the layouts and space plans, the way the house flows.
GREAT ROOM AFTER:
Ken tended to like darker, masculine touches, while Pam is more light and ethereal. To me, this home reflects the perfect marriage of both of their styles and personalities.
This project is full of “wow factors” and at the same time, the overall feeling is of understated elegance. Pam and Ken understand and appreciate the value of artisan touches, and the value of pieces having story — where it comes from, how it is made and acquired. As longtime readers of my column know, experiencing the hand of the maker, honoring quality materials and craftsmanship, the histories that pieces represent, all of that are part of my core values.
FORMAL DINING ROOM AFTER:
Our clients are thrilled.
Pam says, “It was amazing to me, I originally described my wishes for the house in generalities, words like light and bright, cohesive, and calming. The house feels very peaceful and serene. It was exactly what I was looking for. The result honored some of the more traditional aspects of the architecture of the home while updating it. All of our wishes came true!”
AFTER images by Mo Saito