Have you ever walked into an older home with good bones but a challenging floor plan and felt a flutter of excitement at the creative possibilities? Then Robin Strickler and Jess Dimtruk of Design Works might be your designer soul sisters. Tasked with updating this Laguna Beach abode that was originally featured in Architectural Digest in 1942, the duo transformed the unusual layout into a beautifully cohesive and functional coastal oasis that invites you in for exploration while still celebrating many of the original features, from the original pitched ceilings to the shiplap. Scroll on to see it all unfold through the lens of Hugo Landa Photography.
From vision to final execution, walk us through the design process of this home. What were your client’s priorities in this project?
When the clients first came to Design Works, we broke up the design process into stages. The first stage was the master bedroom, bathroom, sitting room, powder room, and flooring throughout. The most recent and final stage was the kitchen remodel, living room, guest bedroom, and guest bathroom.
The clients wanted a timeless look that would be able to transition with new design styles as well as a functional space for their everyday living. The clients love coffee, cooking, and entertaining, which means they needed a lot of storage in their kitchen as well as a space to gather when they have family and guests over. Since there is usually a lot happening in the kitchen, we created a kitchen island with seating at the end, plus a smaller sitting area with a deep sofa for guests and family to hangout. Because we extended the kitchen into the old dining room, we were able to relocate the dining table (which seats eight) into a new space, which created more of a cozy and comfortable feel altogether.
What mood do you hope the home conveys when people first walk into the space?
In one word: curious. That may sound funny at first, but the layout of the home is unique. When you first enter the Dutch front door, you are not only greeted by adorable and loving dogs, but also with a view of the kitchen straight ahead, the sitting room on the left, the living room on the right, plus a clear line of sight into the outdoor living area and incredible backyard. You don’t know what you want to go see first, which leaves you curious, wanting to explore every space and where it leads you.
We love the way you mixed wooden tones throughout this kitchen – the dark stained floors, the lighter tones of the island, the rustic beam on the hood, the painted ceiling beams. Do you have any advice on how to successfully mix different types of woods within the same space?
We love mixing wood tones! It creates a warm feeling in any space. Our suggestion is not going overboard. Choose two-three of the same wood tones to use throughout and add a lot of white to keep the spaces bright and airy.
The backyard of this home is jaw-droppingly beautiful. What design tips do you have for someone wanting to create an oasis in their own backyard?
Keeping the same design ideas we use for the inside of the home for the outside – bright whites and natural woods with a pop of color – makes everything cohesive inside and out!
What needs to be taken into consideration when choosing outdoor furniture?
Functionality, the type of material the client wants (teak, metal, rope), and the sun! We love specifying furniture that has a mix of all the materials above, such as loungers with wood and rope detail, metal side tables, big white umbrellas, and pops of blue in pillows and cushions.
What are some of your favorite elements in this home?
The windows! This home has windows in every space, allowing natural light into each room. They really bring the outdoors in! We added a few more skylights plus the large window in the dining space, careful to select window treatments complementary to the rest of the design so they didn’t take away from any other elements.
We also love the ceilings, or some like to call them the “fifth wall”. They are covered in shiplap, beams, and skylights, which really elevates the space.
A little bird told us this home was featured in Architectural Digest back in 1942. What features of the home are original? How do you approach designing a home with so much history for the needs of its current owners?
Some of the original features of the home include the pitched ceilings, beams, skylights, fireplace, and shiplap. The home had great bones, and we wanted to make sure that our design complemented the original cozy and coastal oasis by updating paint colors and selecting warm tones in the furniture and fabrics.
How does this project embody a well-lived home?
This project brings a balance of comfort and luxury. All the finishes, accessories, and furniture were handpicked to serve a specific purpose in every room. Utilizing warm and bright tones, natural lighting, and colorful accents through pillows, artwork, and greenery makes this coastal oasis one of a kind.
One of the first design details we noticed was the choice to use not one, but three gorgeous tiles in the master suite bathroom. What’s the key to making it work?
Making an accent wall and using complementary tiles is a fun and easy way to make any space pop! We also used this same design idea in the kitchen. We added a pop of blue, hand-painted tile behind the stove. We didn’t want it to be too overpowering, so we added a calmer, warm tone of grey subway tile throughout the rest of the kitchen.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project?
Honestly, there weren’t really any hurdles or challenges we experienced. We’ve worked with these clients for years, and our design styles meshed well together. They were so enjoyable to work with!