July 23, 2018
Having an abundance of space with which to work can sometimes be as much of a challenge to redesign as having a small amount of square footage. For one 9,000-sq.-ft. home in Southern California, Courtney Thomas of La Cañada, Calif.-based Courtney Thomas Design was tasked with taking advantage of the grand spaces and creating the ideal entertaining and family house.
“Given the openness of the kitchen and height of the ceilings, I thought the space had great potential,” said Thomas. “I knew we could spice it up with some architectural drama.”
Challenges in the Kitchen
The initial plan from the design team called for an oversized island, truncated upper cabinets and no ceiling detail. Montrose, Calif.-based Stoddard Architects, who were working closely with Thomas on the project, suggested instead installing two islands to give the family more horizontal work space and lower cabinet storage.
Using AutoCAD for elevations and layouts, the team then added coffered ceilings and dropped a soffit around the perimeter of the space; that way the upper cabinets didn’t stretch to the unreachable 10-ft. ceiling height. In building the coffered ceiling, however, some additional challenges arose.
“If you look closely, the islands aren’t actually centered in the room,” said Thomas. “Aligning the coffered ceiling required a great deal of planning to make the islands look not only centered over the islands but also between the perimeter counters and evenly spaced from the ceiling beams in the family room.”
Another challenge was choosing the directional run of the hardwood floors in the kitchen. They needed to run throughout the main floor, which includes both perpendicular and parallel spaces.
“We ultimately opted to run the flooring parallel to the house’s wingspan and along the main hallways, which would have suffered the most from a directional mistake,” said the designer.
Warm and White
The original plans called for stained cabinetry, but Thomas found that the clients’ inspiration photos were mainly of white kitchens. They decided instead on Shaker-style, white-painted cabinet doors with thin inset molding for the majority of the storage. The very top cabinets, which are glass front and lit internally, break up with space.
“I fought for those to be lit,” said Thomas, explaining that the homeowner didn’t believe she could use them until she found some plates she was proud to display there. “I love the lights in those cabinets because they add warmth and draw your eye up to the ceiling drama.”
The white palette continues across the countertops. For the islands, the design team picked a pair of book-matched quartzite slabs – a more durable material than the marble the client originally wanted. This hardier product was necessary because the island closest to the range serves as the landing, serving and prep area, and the one closest to the family room would be a homework and activity table for the three children in the family. The team compromised by installing marble countertops around the perimeter, which would see less action than the islands.
The obvious break in the white is the range backsplash, which is an Ann Sacks glass and marble tile – a pattern the design team and the client fondly referred to as “Ann.” According to Thomas, the more the team explored the design direction of the home, the more tile fell into the conversation.
“We didn’t know at the time how much of the final vision it would influence,” said the designer. “The rooms adjoining the kitchen reflect just how much.”
Another version of the blue-gray tile is on the built-in inside the main hall and is woven into the family room drapery. A muted hue of it is also painted on the family room walls.
Organizing the Busy Spots
Off of the kitchen, the mudroom needed to accommodate this family of five and their dog. Thomas also had to work around three access points: the garage door, side door and house entryway. To do this, she maximized the two long walls between the doorways for the majority of the storage.
“I built cubbies for each family member,” she said. “The bench, hooks and boot cubbies get used for day-to-day items, while the upper cubbies store seasonal items that don’t need to be accessed daily.”
The full-length cabinet at the end of the sink wall was built deeper for winter coats, sports equipment and dog gear.
From Cavernous to Cozy
Similar to the kitchen, the bathroom was spacious, however, the house next door was being built at the time and threatened to diminish the light coming through the window.
“To bounce the natural light, I introduced glass-fronted cabinetry around the vanity mirrors,” said Thomas. “I focused on creating warmth through lighting, materials and architectural additions.”
Over the his-and-her vanities, she dropped a soffit to create a more intimate alcove effect around the mirrors. The design team enhanced this by adding millwork, paneling and mirrors, which bring opulence and warmth to the space.
To further customize the bath for the clients, a linen closet, sit-down vanity, medicine cabinets and a mini fridge were included. They also reclaimed some space from the private toilet area to accommodate a built-in cabinet for a laundry hamper and toiletry storage.
“My greatest challenge was not getting to design this amazing space for myself!” said Thomas. “The double-door entry flanked by his-and-her vanities, a built-in jetted tub under a picturesque window and a dropped chandelier are an ideal layout when you have the space for it.”
Designer: Courtney Thomas
Photographer: Stephanie Wiley
Backsplash Tile: Ann Sacks
Cabinetry: Eldemar Dentzuky from Trade Custom Cabinet
Double Ovens and Warming Drawer: Wolf
Faucet: Newport Brass
Island Lighting: Regina Andrew
Range Hood Liner: Wolf
Cabinetry: Eldemar Dentzuky from Trade Custom Cabinets
Shower Faucet: Moen
Sink Faucet: Moen
Tile: Foothill Tile and Stone
Tub Faucet: Moen
Cabinetry: Fernando Reyes from Finish Time Cabinets
Sink Faucet: Moen