This California ranch-style home had a distinct 1990s look when its new owners acquired it about 12 months ago. However, now, with a sophisticated and pared-down decor that puts it on the list The best homes in the worlda one-story home in Saratoga, California, is much better for modern family life, entertaining and all-around relaxation.
After a remodel, led and managed by interior designer Caroline Brandwagen of CBespoke, the once bland and somewhat problematic living space was transformed in 2002.
Carolyn describes the new look as “hints of New England with a touch of California casual meets the Upper East Side,” a winning combination that she expects was a long, complicated job, involving construction, renovation, and replacing entire fixtures, before she could even redesign.
However, time was of the essence here, so designer Caroline had to work smart, she explains. ‘The couple were expecting their second child six months from the date they purchased the property. They were living on the East Coast while I was designing and installing and they wanted a quick turnaround time so they wouldn’t bring a child into a construction zone.’
The project was completed on time. “It took us six months without wasting a single minute!” Caroline says. “The baby came home from the hospital while the cleaning crew was finishing work!” The designer gives us a tour of the redesigned home, and shares her tips on creating a sophisticated, livable style when there’s no time to waste.
1. Keep structural changes to a minimum
“The house had a lot of the 1990s and early 2000s.” interior design This dates the aesthetic,” Caroline explains. “But the rewards were lots of light and a one-story design for kids to wander through. My design approach was to pull elements from the family’s existing home in New York, as well as favorite places they’d traveled. The goal was to give them the look of a new, custom structure without having to start ‘From scratch because we didn’t have a lot of time. They wanted the design to look elegant but friendly, and it was essential to have a functional and functional kitchen and a spacious dining room to host family and friends.’
Keeping structural changes to a minimum is one of the key ways to stick to a strict schedule when renovating, saving time for the design, renovation and installation phases.
Caroline worked with architect Glenn Katz to put it together Kitchen ideas under excution. “He moved a non-structural wall where the refrigerator was and nearly doubled the size of the kitchen, opening it up right away.” This was the only minor change to the home’s design, but it had a huge impact on the space.
2. Mark items that are in stock to save wait times
Caroline’s next practical tip relates to delaying the presentation, which can be a real drain on your already limited time. “We only used in-stock materials throughout the house, and relied heavily on vendors we work closely with to source items with longer lead times, like appliances and the huge pot rack in the kitchen,” she says.
Simply put, don’t order something unless it’s in stock or you have guaranteed delivery times. So, if you’re updating your kitchen and working to strict deadlines, supply delays are definitely something to take into consideration when purchasing a full-scale oven. Waiting for product to arrive on site may cause unexpected delays for the rest of the project.
Carolyn Brandwagen is the owner and principal designer of CBespoke – a full-service interior design firm, based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
CBespoke specializes in residential construction with an emphasis on strong architectural design. Carolyn harmonizes contemporary elements with classic details to add depth and character to the spaces she designs.
3. Paint the kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them
This is a popular way to save time and money on kitchen renovations. If the cabinet is of good quality and in good condition, it is sensible and more sustainable to give it a new look by painting it. Browse our painted kitchen cabinet ideas for some inspiration. Learn how to paint kitchen cabinets to a good finish if you plan to do it yourself, or are considering having them professionally repainted. Cabinets can also be moved to match the new kitchen design, which will still be a faster and cheaper option than replacing the entire kitchen.
Designer Carolyn chose to keep the existing cabinets here, which were of good quality. It was painted in Benjamin Moore’s Creamy White. “We used brushed brass and brushed nickel finishes, as well as walnut countertops against marble countertops to add warmth and depth to the room,” says Caroline. Armac Martin cabinet hardware.
4. Don’t tear up your wood floors, try refinishing them
Flooring can make or break a space, especially in an open plan where the flooring is on great display. Designer Caroline A Solid red oak flooring, and if her flooring ideas had included replacing the existing flooring, this would have added significantly to the project timeline. Instead, she opted to refinish the existing flooring, “opting for a more contemporary color with the pattern.” Again, this is a more sustainable approach that saves time and money, and instantly brightens up the space.
Although this is a spacious open plan space, it was important that it had character and interest. The custom designed Ann Morris two-tone pot rack is a key kitchen accessory and showcases customers’ growing pot collection.
5. Give molding details a new look with paint
There was one detail going on throughout the house that designer Caroline couldn’t wait to update. “Each room had 10 inches of cherry red crown molding that screamed 1990. We painted these the same colors as the walls to blend them in,” she says. “The transformation is amazing and makes for a more contemporary look.” Wainscoting was then added to the entire wall to balance out this large crown molding,
The family uses this unusual space to play games or enjoy afternoon tea, although since it is located just off the kitchen, it can also serve as an informal dining nook.
“We transformed this space into a flexible room, where family members from different generations gather, enjoy afternoon tea or play mahjong,” says designer Caroline.
6. Embrace and enhance existing architectural features
The arched opening and wide, curved steps leading to the dining room may not be to everyone’s tastes, but because they worked so well to divide the room from the rest of the space, designer Caroline chose to embrace them rather than replace them. Light floor finishes have enhanced the look of the steps leading to the dining area, and an arch painted in Benjamin Moore’s Simple White, to match the walls throughout, creates a striking frame.
Among other Caroline Dining room ideas For the space is the new area rug from Suite NY.
7. Elevate the changes with dramatic dark polish
“My favorite space is the library, which is now also a formal dining room,” says designer Caroline. ‘The high ceiling and dramatic light gave us the confidence to paint the cabinets a dark colour, giving the room a very dramatic feel. I love how spacious this space is, and the way the morning light falls on the dark cabinets and gives the room a formal and informal look at the same time.’
The combined elements found in Benjamin Moore’s Black Beauty were drawn. And the dining chairs are from Suite NY.
8. Simplify the look in the evening beyond suspended ceilings where possible
Designer Carolyn’s master bedroom ideas started with a desire to simplify the space and give it a calmer look and feel. However, first, there were a few structural obstacles to overcome.
“There was a weird, unnecessary ceiling in the primary bedroom,” says designer Caroline. “We flattened it, then added wood trim for architectural interest and infused the clients’ Manhattan backdrop with a West Coast vibe.”
9. Plants, artwork and a warm palette are quick updates to a bedroom
This room was furnished and set up in just one day, once the furniture arrived. With new-look flooring already giving the bedroom a warmer look, it was simply a matter of livening up the space with a new plant, a striking painting and a curved sofa for added luxury. A simple four-poster bed frame without curtains elevates the space while maintaining a contemporary vibe.
10. Just adding texture can make a big difference
“The couple’s young daughter wanted an all-pink room (who doesn’t?) so we focused on adding texture using cement tiles for the bathroom shower wall and Schumacher sisal wallpaper,” says designer Carolyn. Including textures into your children’s room ideas in this way gives the room a more sophisticated look, which helps ensure its longevity.
11. More space or built-in storage? Decide what is best for you
In the family bathroom, designer Carolyn Brandwagen faced a dilemma: keep the wall of cabinets for additional storage, or remove them to make room for a larger bathroom? In the end, she chose to remove the cabinets, since the room already featured ample storage space in the double vanity and dressing table. “This way we can accommodate a large bathtub so the kids can bathe in it. The family lives mainly in Manhattan, so we wanted to emulate the atmosphere of the Upper East Side.
There was another problem to address: “The space is large but it feels like a cave because there are so many basements and another low ceiling that was built in for no reason at all,” Caroline adds. “With the even ceiling, the master bathroom is now bright and spacious.”
12. Find quick solutions for wasted space
This is a masterclass on how to make the most of the space in your toilet room, right there.
While Caroline was working on the house planning its new look, she realized that a lot of space would be wasted behind a false wall. “We expanded the existing vanity by opening up the wall, which gave the small room a much-needed boost,” she says.
Explaining her ideas for the powder room, Caroline adds: “Since the home’s main palette is fairly neutral, the husband wanted to use a more masculine piece of stone in the powder room. Leather quartzite has a rich dark base, but there are lots of light warm veins that tie in well With limestone floors and the rest of the house.’ Elegant sconce lights from Visual Comfort.
We were very impressed with designer Carolyn Brandwagen’s hands-on approach to redesigning and updating this Saratoga home, working under time pressure. Not only did she create a sophisticated and elegant new look for the family home, but she also made sensible and sustainable decisions to update and adapt the home’s existing features where possible, without compromising the final effect.
“I’m glad we reached our goal of giving customers a custom look that reflects their lifestyle without taking the house down to the studs,” the designer concludes.
Interior design: Caroline Brandwagen of CBespoke
Photography: Agnieszka Jakupovic