Sunday, March 10, 2019

How Our Weston Hills Kitchen Goes from Drab to Fab!

Last year we ripped apart every inch of this two-story home in Weston Hills and slowly gave it a new a fabulous lease on life. This wasn't a standard renovation. Our clients own several properties and while they're considering downsizing, they weren’t sure if they would one day move back in to this home where they'd raised their three girls. They did know they wanted it to be a lot less traditional than their primary home, therefore no deep wood tones, no heavy drapery. They wanted a light and airy home, heavy on style and function. 
We started on the first floor and worked our way up.
Here's my process: When I walk into a space to consider it's potential design, nothing is off limits. I'll flip an existing floor plan upside down - relocate a sink if needed, move an ac unit or a  washer/dryer if one is sitting in kitchen...That's the beauty of starting afresh. Most homeowners who renovate assume they have to renovate within the existing footprint. Ummm, not so. Ever. 
So with that in mind, this kitchen was about to get a lesson in how to move things around to finally achieve great style and function. Here's where we started:

FYI: I loathe a bar height countertop! I just can't with the dangling legs and struggling to get on those bar stools so 99 percent of my kitchen designs have a counter height island. I'm still trying to remember that 1 percent, but carry on while I jog my memory.  I will also always prefer a hood that vents to the exterior when possible, over a microwave over the range. That means you'll see loads of convention/microwave combos in our projects or base cabinet microwaves or microwave drawers. 

There are more stylish ways to do a pantry. And that tiny refrigerator just won't cut it in a house of this size. 
Plumbing is our biggest pain in the rear. In two story homes the pipes are always, always in the wrong location for us to truly create a master piece kitchen so yes, we have to often relocate plumbing stacks. It's always worth it. Trust me on that. 

Demo days are the best days. 


 Okay. Enough chatter. Here's how she's looking these days. 

Counter height! Always. Always. Seating for five and in true style with these camel leather and chrome bar stools. FYI we sourced for hours for the perfect ones and I had to push my client on this choice because I really wanted the leather to warm things up a bit. 

Relocating the plumbing stacks allowed us to completely open the kitchen up. 
Relocating the range and hood directly in front of the sink just seemed to anchor the kitchen and allowed us to do a dramatic slab backsplash where it could truly be a star. 

This was our third choice of quartz! Our client travels a lot and we lost the first two we pitched while waiting on her approval in between flights. In the end I pulled the trigger on this one and said, sorry, this has to be it! Thankfully she agreed and my, what a beauty. 

Oh breakfast nook, you have made me a believer. 

It took five holes for this faucet and companion hose and garbage disposal button! 
But whatev, we so love it. 

I really think farm sinks are here to stay. Ditto two over-sized pendants over an island instead of three. 

Flour power.

Finally! A refrigerator that's the right scale for a five bedroom home, with pantries the way I like em  on either side of a refrigerator.

The new beverage station is a great addition and also houses a microwave drawer in the base cabinet. 


Whew. Let's have a seat! This was definitely a labor of love project. 
So many lessons learned on this one but man if it isn't now among our faves. 

But here's some Behind The Scenes (BTS) intel:
  1. I originally wanted to move the sink to the under the windows where the banquette is and in a rare case, the windows were the perfect height from the floor to do so (we've raised windows before in order to relocate a sink) But out client loves a dedicated breakfast nook and so nope, that idea was nixed much to my dismay. And guess what, that little eating area is now just as fabulous as it was meant to be.
  2. We debated a lot about the kitchen island color. My client wanted the navy color I'd used in another project but since I won't repeat a design or color that was not to be. We went back and forth for weeks about the color then one day she looked at my grey nail color and said, I really love that color on your nails. Can we do that? Ummm sure thing!
  3. I'll always, always take cabinets to the ceiling - unless ceilings are over 10 feet in which case it just doesn't make sense because, ladders to get inside your cabinets shouldn't be an every day thing. 
  4. Weeks after we finished the main floor, a pipe burst in the laundry and flooded the main floor. I was a wreck when I walked in to ankle deep water but thankfully we'd popped by just hours after it happened and so we the cabinets weren't soaked. All the doors and baseboards had to be removed and new ones reinstalled. It was a devastating turn of events for this project and slowed things down for weeks as we had to ensure all the walls were dry to avoid mold but thankfully we pulled through.

We'll reveal the other spaces we designed over the next few weeks.  What's your favorite part of this kitchen project? And have you had a difficult kitchen renovation that made you wanna pull your hair out? Tell us the worst moment and how you pulled you. 

Friday, March 8, 2019

Recap of My Cali Trip With Zephyr

Our #nwdprojectsevenvotes with a Zephyr hood insert
Last fall I was invited by Zephyr, a leading maker of kitchen ventilation hoods and wine refrigerators, to spend a few days in San Francisco to visit their showroom and learn about their products. 

Oh there was more. We would stay at the beautiful Proper Hotel, designed by Kelly Wearstler aka design maven, tour select showrooms in the design district, attend the renown antique fair and spend a day touring a few wineries in Napa. Ummm yes freaking please! With that, I over-packed - because a girl needs options - and jetted my way to San Fran.
While I knew of a few of the other invited designers/bloggers from social media, we’d never met, so this would also be a time to connect with other creatives in real life, real time! No damn DMs.

After devouring every inch of Proper’s design details - Jesus it was sooo damn good! We all met for cocktails on the hotels rooftop restaurant..

So good to connect with these ladies. 

We then shuttled over in a party bus to have dinner at Ayesha Curry’s restaurant - International Smoke. 

Oh, the things you share with strangers when you have a cocktail or two!
Let’s just say, we shared a lot - makeup remover techniques, Doodle dogs, online dating and so much more...
The next day it was time to learn all things Zephyr and man the renovation geek in me soaked up all the details.

We learned what’s new: Black stainless steel hoods are here to stay. Oversized hoods like their new Titan With Power Wave, for a commercial look continue to be on trend. There are hoods for outdoor ventilation and that there's a new app to control the functions of their hoods including a reminder to clean your filters.

The innovator of cement countertops and so much more, Fu-Tung Cheng of Cheng Designs. He also designed a few range hoods for Zephyr. Yes that's my messy hair atop this leather chair. 

Love this seamless ceiling venting option for clients who want an unobstructed views!

But my most exciting offering from Zephyr is there expansion to wine and beverage coolers, the Presrv Collection.This was especially thrilling for a wine head like moi with loads of clients now requesting dedicated wine rooms.

All the smiles because we all love wine!

The beauty of this trip was zephyrs commitment to introducing us to other local brands, all run by entrepreneurs like ourselves, who’d dared to dream and take a risk. We toured other showrooms including Nido LivingCoup D'Etat and Fire ClaySince they’re now in the wine cooler game, we also visited two wineries in Napa Jospeh Phelps and Rutherford Wineries where we sampled amazing wine and learned a ton - including what type of glassware to use for whites versus reds.

As designers running small businesses, we spend so much time alone, honing our own craft that it can be lonely as hell. 

These sponsored events are an amazing blessing to shift us out of solitude for a few days, learn more about a product we already use to better serve our clients, and to meet and share new ideas with other creatives. Kudos again to Zephyr for bringing us all together to learn the details of a product we all use for our clients. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Shhhhh Quiet Please! Soundproof Drywall With the Team From Purple

One of our most fun projects this year has been designing a master bedroom retreat for our clients Eduardo and Shannell. A fun couple, with two amazing kids, Alex and Gabby, who also like to spend loads of time in mom and dad's bedroom. 

But while designing the space, we learned that there's lots of sound traveling between their bedroom and their daughter Gabby's adjoining bedroom. 
We had no plans for a major renovation so didn't want to rip the wall apart to add insulation/soundproofing material between the framing.  
Thankfully the folks at National Gypsum®  makers of the PURPLE® brand of drywall recommended one of their newest products, SoundBreak XP Retrofit® Board which reduces noise transmission between rooms or dwellings.
We've been working with this brand since last year and have learned so much about the materials we use for most of our projects. 

This acoustically enhanced gypsum board easily installs over existing drywall, without the need for disruptive and expensive demolition. It's the perfect material to use in between bedrooms, a nursery and a media room. 

Prepped floors for our retrofit installation. 

We removed the existing baseboards and crown moldings which were easily reinstalled once the drywall was in place. 

At its center is a layer of material specifically designed to absorb and dissipate noise, which helps keep sound in – or out of – the rooms where it matters most. And most important, it can be installed right over your existing drywall. 

Baseboards and crown moldings have been reinstalled. 

Once the new drywall is installed, we used joint compound to smooth all the seams before we repainted the room. 

The walls is all done and is now ready to block sound, and ready for a close up. 

Now that the room is all fabulous the kids are still taking over! But now Gabby is sleeping soundly without hearing the noise from the television, and mom and dad can enjoy some quality time in their new retreat. 

*While this post was sponsored by National Gypsum®, all words and details of the tour are by yours truly.

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