If home truly is where the heart is, is falling head-over-heels in love with real estate that hard to imagine? For a Los Angeles couple, who stumbled across a 1920s Spanish-style home that gave them butterflies and immediately in the throes serious relationship status (with a house, mind you), the answer is absolutely not.
The John de Lario-built home was the perfect size for their family of five, and its historical character was the ideal canvas to their collected, international style. However, after living in the home for several months, it became heartbreak hacienda. There was no getting around a major overhaul of the space.
Despite all of the fairy tale-like finishes (like original wood beams, plaster walls, and dramatic archways) the Beechwood Canyon home was lacking the type of modern elements that come along with raising a modern family. "We were lucky that it had great bones and it was obviously architecturally stunning," says Karen Vidal, of Silver Lake-based design and architecture firm Design Vidal. "The trick was how to accomplish this renovation while keeping true to the original style."
To complete the job, the family of five moved out so Vidal could quickly execute the extensive plans. The first order of business was to create a kitchen that was worthy of a serious home chef and her collection of cookbooks. It was a typical, small galley kitchen that lacked counter space, casual seating, and personality. “The biggest complaint from the homeowner was that when she was cooking, she felt totally cut-off from everyone,” says Vidal, who removed the butler’s pantry to create a seating area, ticking a box on the wish list. Vidal then added personality by way of color with a methodical approach. A neutral base (classic white shaker-style cabinets paired with durable black soapstone counters) was the ideal backdrop to the homeowner’s beloved blue Lacanche range and the bright, ethnically-inspired backsplash tile that instilled a sense of nostalgia for the homeowners.
The "worldly vibe" continued into the living room where, similar to the kitchen, Vidal kept the larger elements — like the sofa, bench, and armchairs — neutral. "At first glance, this room could look very busy," says Vidal, about the layers of color within the homeowner’s vintage art collection and accessories. "So we established continuity in the home by painting all of the walls white. They allow us to build upon the color without it becoming overwhelming."
The color and pattern explosions in the main rooms were exactly what the homeowners were looking for, but because they are two working parents, they craved a retreat-like master bedroom. One that wouldn’t crowd the senses but still reminded them of their travels. In its pre-renovation state, the master bedroom wouldn’t be able to give them the sanctuary they desired so Vidal relocated the master bedroom to the other side of the house, knocking down a a few walls to create one large en suite master bedroom. “I love it when we suggest something radical and the client looks at us and says, ‘I never thought of that!’,” says Vidal. “We are always thinking outside of the box. Not simply because we want to but because it’s our job.”
Overall, the idea to modernize this old home was directly related to its history and Vidal used what wasn’t working to her advantage. By knocking down a few walls, she created the dream home; by adding color, she gave the home life; and by keeping the original elements intact, she allowed the homeowners to reconcile and fall back in love all over again.