APTOS, CA— When thinking back to the 1960s, questionable style choices such as psychedelic mini-dresses with fishnets and go-go boots spring to mind. Kitchens of that era suffer the same fate, with images of matching avocado-colored refrigerators and ovens leaving their mark.
When Ione Victoria walked into this cramped, disorganized and very dark 1960s-style kitchen, she may have felt like she stepped into a time warp. Victoria, who serves as designer and owner of Paradise Interior Design, based here, explains: “On my first visit to the house it was quite clear that nothing had been changed since the original construction in the 1960s. For this multi-million dollar vacation home property, it was definitely time to replace those ‘builder specials.’”
Victoria notes that the homeowners gave her a big design edge when planning for this challenge. “My clients were design savvy and had a great vision of how they wanted to update this upper level area. They were looking for a modern and artful place to relax and entertain – without rebuilding the whole house,” she notes.
In turn, Victoria wanted a fresh, open space that reflected today’s lifestyle on the California coast. “Together, we made a great team,” she offers.
Important to the clients was their ability to cook and entertain with ease in the redesigned kitchen. “[Since both clients’ enjoy cooking], each now has a separate prep sink on their side of the kitchen,” says Victoria. “Being a guest for dinner is like going to a show. You might even get invited to play!”
Victoria also added substantial wine storage near the wet bar area of the kitchen, which gives the clients easy access to their wine collection while entertaining guests. The angled rack freed up the previously cramped feel of the space, as the individual compartments stagger back with the angle of the wall.
Proper lighting also played a key role in the room’s overall design, as Victoria needed to overcome pre-existing structural challenges to create a layout filled with natural light. Well-placed task lighting further enhanced the space, creating a spacious and airy environment.
A Lightened Load
The original construction of the home posed various challenges for the designer, but ultimately those obstacles added to the stunning visual of the finished project.
Victoria explains: “The kitchen and dining areas are very large – approximately 600 square feet, almost triangular in shape and separated only by a floating support wall to the living room. The entire ceiling is vaulted redwood beam, 15-feet tall at the highest point. A designer challenge [indeed].”
She continues: “Open-beam ceilings leave no place to hide transformers, outlets and wires. In fact, the original track lighting attached to the main crossbeam was so high that its light never really reached any surface.”
Her first change to the layout was to improve the lighting – both from a structural and aesthetic standpoint – which she accomplished by installing a monorail system and various fixtures. She also worked in design changes to improve the room’s natural light.
The main ceiling support beam had to be integrated into the design, while the beam, which abuts the island, was wrapped with stainless steel and capped at the nine-foot level to end at the same height as the monorail. The result was that multiple-length fixtures could be put into place for the various task and spot lighting needed for the layout, bringing the light to a useful level.
Separate switches and dimmers were also installed so that the lighting could be easily adjusted. Undercabinet fluorescent and halogen lamps were installed in the custom hood to improve task lighting, while two large operable skylights were added over the island to utilize natural light.