By Annette M. Callari, Allied ASID; CMG
The young family whose home is featured as this year’s Showcase Home deserves some special attention. They had outgrown their previous Anaheim home, and were up against a number of full-price bidders for a 5,000sf home at the pinnacle of the Anaheim Hills. In the true sense of enjoying a “seller’s market”, the selling homeowners met each of the various bidders. They didn’t want to sell to someone who was flipping the house for a profit. This had been their home for over ten years, and they were hoping to see a new family appreciate and enjoy all the home had to offer.
So Tracy and Jason, along with little ones in tow (a beautiful 3-year-old little girl and a very adorable 6-year-old son) met with the sellers, and then waited anxiously for over a week to see if their bid would be the one accepted. End result – it was!
That started a whirlwind journey of packing up one home and moving into their new home. Then came the fun process of making it their own. Many of the finishes were a little dated, since the home had been built in 1997. But the ability to see beyond the oak cabinets, white walls, and a pool table smack dab in the middle of the would-be dining room, was critical.
There is an inherent lesson in this story—please look beyond interior finishes and consider the structure, integrity and “bones” of the house you are considering. Makeovers are not just for Hollywood royalty—making over a home can transform it completely and put your signature stamp on it.
So where to start? The couple really wanted to replace the floors first. Good call. Nothing makes as dramatic a statement as your floor covering. The grand-sized living room/dining room (former pool hall) had neutral carpet throughout. Beautiful mid-toned, hand-scraped wood (Provenza, African Plains, Color 02) was chosen to replace the carpet in those rooms as well as replacing the large format tile in the kitchen, foyer and downstairs hallway.The transformation accomplished with the new wood floors was stunning. Lesson: continuity in your floor covering unifies spaces in the home and contributes to openness dramatically.
Next, the white, no-personality walls had to go. Patchwork painted squares covered the walls here and there, so the new owners could see what the paints looked like in all different lightings, day and night. Sample-sized cans are available at most home improvement stores for you to take home and try. Without question, this is another huge lesson that will save you costly mistakes. Paint, by far, is the most difficult element to choose in a new design. Even professional designers are challenged by this. Use the “patchwork” sample tests on your walls and live with the colors for a few days or weeks, before you make a final decision.
Tracy and Jason decided on a soft taupe color in a low sheen. (Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter.) Having a slight sheen to your paint adds life to vertical surfaces and adds to the clean-ability. Now the home took on a whole fresh persona. With two major design changes completed (walls and floors), the backgrounds were established, and the earnest decorating could begin. The Great Room (living room/ dining room combo) featured a bank of three incredible arch-topped windows. Finished length was a staggering 155”.
This proved to be yet another challenge. The solution is that you have to find a fabric you love “railroaded”. That means the drapery will be constructed just the way it comes off the bolt, so there are no seams and there is no limit on the needed finished length. Tracy really wanted to add sparkle and glam to her Great Room. She enlisted the help of an ASID designer to help with that fabric search. Lesson: remember a professional designer has access to fabric showrooms that offer unique, not-seen-at-retail, fabrics. The final choice (and many were considered) was Fabricut Shimmering Lattice Color 02— a sheer white background with a large-repeat, intertwined vertical design. The crowning touch was that the pattern was enhanced with silvery crystals. (The fabric was lined to give the drapery body and substance.) The end result was a custom, dramatic window treatment that sparkles day and night, especially by firelight.
One thing Tracy had her heart set on from the very beginning was to add three crystal chandeliers to her Great Room, each one centered in line with the grand arched windows. That certainly was the crowning touch, and became the true focal point of the room.
There is so much more to share, but I think I can do that with the photography included here. Showcase homes are an opportunity to learn just how to approach a big design. Create a master plan, and then implement it as budget allows. Notice that throughout this article, I have interspersed lessons (in italics). The purpose of this is to give you some invaluable ‘take-aways’ to apply to your own designs. Have fun, bring in a professional designer if needed, and prepare to see your dream home come to life.