A Warm and Welcoming Space
Single family home in a great neighborhood near a Southern California beach. Sounds fabulous, right? But if the space feels humdrum and cramped, who wants to hang out and entertain there?
With their renovation in this Hermosa Beach abode, Hornbeck Design Partners undertook transforming the tight, cold and uninviting kitchen, dining and living space into a stylish, contemporary and welcoming environment for the homeowner and his guests.
Designers Nancy Manning and Don Hornbeck described the existing space. “The architecture was a mash-up of styles expressed in cheap materials and finishes. Practically, the kitchen was extremely small with views blocked by cabinets.”
The design team needed to remedy these issues while working within the existing footprint and floor plan, and sticking to the client’s budget.
“The client wanted a very warm and inviting environment which was more visually open and flexible for entertaining,” said Manning.
“In the kitchen, we needed to enlarge the usable area, eliminate the view-blocking cabinets and increase storage,” said Hornbeck. “The new cabinets would need to be clean and contemporary.” The team also planned to do away with the built in bar in the living room, to close up that wall and open it on the kitchen side to create a pantry.
Faux mullion windows that broke up views would have to go. “In the living room, we needed to replace all the windows and doors with single lights and wood trim,” said Hornbeck. “The architectural quirks needed to be eliminated…we began by eliminating odd jogs and consolidating basic forms.” Working with the existing fireplace, its surround and hearth would be transformed with new materials and a contemporary mantel.
The client made his preferences known. He gathered images of rooms and furnishings he liked, including contemporary furnishings and wood floors; he shared his tastes with the design team. Together they developed the aesthetic for the space.
“Colors were inspired by nature of the surrounding beach area,” said Manning. “We used a lot of blue-greens and soft greys in the fabrics, granite and glass backsplash. There is a lot of random pattern in the natural materials: wood grain and granite, so the client did not want a lot of repeated pattern in the fabrics. There, we tried to use texture to add visual interest.”
The team chose warm, richly grained woods complemented by cool-colored stone and glass:
- Red birch kitchen cabinets
- Seafoam green granite countertops with large crystals
- Moss glass tile back splash
- Fossil Azul limestone for the fireplace with pale fossil sea shells
- A neutral Summit Bark tile for the floating hearth seat
- Amendoim from BR111 wood floors
“When we had achieved an inviting and tranquil environment, we used reds and orange accents to punch up the interest and contrast,” said Manning.
To keep from blowing the budget on art, the client commissioned an artist friend, Chile Thomas, to create the large, fiery painting in the dining area. “Chile is also a musician and did the music themed painting by the kitchen,” said Manning.
The team improved lighting in the space by creating several new lighting circuits on dimmers. This enables the homeowner “to create a number of moods while having all necessary tasks and objects illuminated. An example is having all the art, coffee table and Antique cabinet on one circuit,” said Hornbeck.
The zesty art-glass pendants were “used for accent color and to define space between the newly opened kitchen and dining area,” said Manning.
The team solved dining area lighting creatively. “When entertaining, the dining table is frequently moved to the side …preventing a conventional chandelier,” said Manning. A substitute focal point was created when the team installed low-voltage spots on the vaulted ceiling, aimed at the striking art-glass bowl on the table.
“The client loves his new space especially for entertaining. While the overall usage of space has not changed, the enjoyment of those spaces has improved exponentially.”
“The client was very involved in the…process which had the added benefit of his profound appreciation of the final result,” said Manning.
“Take your time figuring out what you really want the space to feel like. Develop a clear picture of where you want to go and make ALL design decision based on that one clear picture. If you include everything you like, without editing, the result will not be nearly as strong,” said Hornbeck.
Manning added, “Treat it as one area so that all the materials flow together and work as a palate. For example, we always like to have the dining chair materials work well with the living room space. This way, when you are entertaining, chairs can be borrowed maybe for watching a movie and everything still looks beautiful together.”
For those on a tight budget but still wanting to update their space, the team offered the following advice:
- “Number one would be paint, to unify and add warmth,” said Manning. “This client changed out his cheaper dark cabinets for new ones, but painting the old ones would have made a big difference.
- The original white laminate counter could be replaced with a more visually interesting laminate at a fraction of the granite price.”
- “Pantry expansion and closing up the bar would not be expensive and you could still lose the upper cabinets that close off the kitchen.
- The furniture could still be updated using less expensive vendors. We like Crate and Barrel , CB2, and West Elm for jobs with smaller budgets because you still get…great style.”
Nancy Manning and Don Hornbeck can be reached through their full service design firm, Hornbeck Design Partners in Redondo Beach, California.
What are your thoughts on this renovation? Does a space in your home need similar updating?