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Lesson 1: Play up the entryway
How do you renovate your home when the very things you love about it are what’s old? As owners of a classic California ranch discovered, a fresh coat of just the right white paint and a smart selection of patterns and textures can highlight the original design while creating a look that’s totally new and stylish.
Design-wise, it’s a space that often gets short shrift. “But it’s actually a chance to make a good first impression,” says decorator Mark J. Williams. An open-legged console and mirrored sconces (from Urban Electric Co.) create an ample, breezy feel right away, and the Persian runner signals the elegance of what’s to come.
The makeover of Andrea and Steven Lurie’s house in Los Angeles began accidentally, as so many renovations do. “Originally, we were reworking only the children’s bathroom and the master suite,” says Andrea. But the plan took on a life of its own. Built in 1939, the house is U-shaped, surrounding a large yard -- typical of the old ranch style (not to be confused with the suburban ranch of the ’70s). It features a flow between indoors and out; however, that airiness didn’t register with the interior’s cream palette, nor with its narrowly enclosed patio connecting the bedrooms to the rest of the house. And so months later, the Luries found themselves physically widening the patio, then visually opening up the other rooms -- all while embracing elements that drew them to the house in the first place. Their needs seemed contradictory, but with thoughtful choices in texture and color, their efforts turned out beautifully: a home that is all at once classic, cozy, and contemporary.
A solid area rug on a polished hardwood floor yields the appearance of more square footage. For the living room, a woven-grass design withstands traffic and sets a laid-back tone.
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The owners loved their new all-white-marble countertops but wanted their kitchen to feel inviting, not sterile. To that end, their original terracotta tile floors stayed put, and the island was topped with hardworking granite. Light bounces off the surfaces differently, giving the kitchen a modern farmhouse appeal.
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Using the same-color paint throughout the house offers the illusion of more space; when that hue is white, the result is downright loftlike. The Luries chose Pointing by Farrow & Ball, which has creamy undertones that complement the floors and antique table.
Fabrics with designs were reserved for the bedroom curtains and smaller items to visually open up the space. In the couple’s bedroom (for which architect Henry Rust created a sitting area to channel the idea of a true suite), striped linen on the cushion softens a chair from a design and comfort standpoint.
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In the family room, floral pillows add interest.
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The furniture -- even outside pieces -- is rarely backed against a wall. A more central placement establishes a sense of intimacy, while also optically pushing back the borders of any space, says Williams. He clustered a few seating areas throughout the yard where the family can gather -- almost as if building out new “rooms.”