Open-concept design: Massive renovation opens up kitchen, dining, living rooms
Brixton and his son, baby Griffin, live in a gorgeous old heritage home. Although it has a lot of overall space, the house — like many other dwellings of yore — was challenged by a really choppy layout. Back in the day, all the cooking was done in work spaces that were often segregated from the rest of the house. Heaven forbid that guests should see the inner workings of the kitchen!
Fast forward to 2013, and it’s a whole different story. Brixton wants an open-concept design, one that will allow him to cook dinner while keeping an eye on the baby, who is two rooms away.
The solution? Well, let’s just say it involves sledgehammers and a lot of elbow grease.
To open up the entire first floor, we knocked down two walls, between the kitchen and dining room, and between the dining room and living room. Now, with old houses, you never know what you’re going to find when the dust starts flying, and this was no exception. Brixton’s house is heated by hot-water radiators; and, unfortunately, we discovered that the pipes were actually routed through the wall separating the living and dining rooms. Moving those pipes wasn’t part of the plan, but I managed to tweak the design slightly by adding an elegant archway that concealed the lines, while still opening up the sightline from kitchen right through to living room.
This was a massive project: a complete reno of the main floor. To make things even more challenging, it had to be done before Brixton’s mom returned from a trip to the Philippines. Let’s just say that Mom is very involved in Brixton’s life, and would have insisted on being in the thick of this reno, had she known about it in advance. As it was, we were on a very tight timeline with absolutely no time to waste.
After we opened up the walls, turning three separate rooms into one big space, it was time to rebuild.
The kitchen is the crowning glory of this renovation, so I was very careful to select cabinetry, appliances and finishes that are modern, yet pay homage to this home’s historical flavor. Modern new white cabinets are fronted by opaque, antique glass that picks up on the diamond shape of the tile backsplash, while also providing contrast and a traditional touch.
I selected some functional yet stylish appliances for Brixton’s new kitchen: a spacious fridge with pull-out bottom freezer, both concealed behind cabinet doors; a professional-grade gas stove topped by a custom fume hood in a gorgeous oil-rubbed, hammered bronze finish; and a very cool microwave in a slide-out drawer.
A peninsula provides more prep space while accommodating an extra-large sink and counter seating for two.
Three pendant lights are suspended over the peninsula to provide additional illumination, while recessed lighting in the ceiling and under-cabinet lights brighten up this space even more and highlight the backsplash tile.
Brixton’s dining table and chairs are special family heirlooms and they had to stay — but even though I left the table alone, I completely changed the look of the chairs by refinishing them in a crisp white and updating the upholstery. The backs are now covered in a stylish striped fabric, while the seats are finished in a luxurious black with nailhead-trim detail. The ugly dining-room radiators were concealed behind built-in cabinetry that also provides additional storage, as well as a ledge to display photos, plants or other pieces. A stunning 10-light chandelier finished in antique silver leaf with crystal accents takes pride of place above the table, and the finishing touch is a brand-new, stylish black high chair for little Griffin.
And finally, we move into the living room, where the old fireplace was treated to a stylish new face-lift and flanked by built-in bookcases. A flat-panel TV is mounted on the wall above the fireplace, and a comfortable sofa and two retro-inspired armchairs offer plenty of seating. An upright piano calls one corner of the living room home; and, once again, radiators are concealed behind more cabinetry. Custom draperies adorn the room’s two windows.
Neutral colors and soft whites feature strongly throughout this space, but bolder color makes an appearance, too, in the wall color of the living room, the table and piano’s wood tones, in the chairs’ upholstery, and in draperies and throw pillows.
Brixton got the design he wanted, and Griffin can run free while remaining under Dad’s watchful eye. Best of all, when Mom came home and got over the shock, she loved it, too. In fact, she loved it so much that she told Brixton she wanted to move in. Hmmm. Now, that wasn’t part of the plan. But, as any designer will tell you, you have to be prepared for any contingency during a project of this scope. I wonder if Brixton needs my help with an in-law suite?
Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of HGTV’s “Candice Tells All.” For more, visit http://www.hgtv.com/ candice-tellsallfullepisodes/ videos/index.html?affiliateblock er&omnisourceSEM&c1Shows_Computer&c2Google&c3CandiceTell sAll&c4hgtv%20candice%20tells%20all.