California Showhouse Taps Colonial Roots

San Marino, CA —

The 12,500-sq.-ft. Monterey Colonial was designed by famed California architect Reginald D. Johnson in 1928, and even featured in a 1931 issue of Architectural Digest. Oliver was commissioned to not only give the kitchen a facelift, but also renovate the surrounding butler’s pantry, grocer’s pantry, breakfast room and family room. According to Oliver, the room interiors she created are tributes to Thomas Larkin, the New Englander who arrived in Monterey, CA in 1832 and is credited with influencing the Monterey Colonial architectural style.

“My whole approach to the project was to pay tribute to the architectural style as well as create an entire entertaining area that was highly functional,” explains Oliver. “At the same time, I tried to make sure that all of the details of the house were completely in unison with its architecture.”

Origin of Inspiration

Drawing on her own interest in historical restoration, Oliver began the kitchen space overhaul by garnering inspiration from an original piece of cabinetry located in the grocer’s pantry.

“Even though all of the areas had been redone – the kitchen, the butler’s pantry and even the rest of the grocer’s pantry – this little wall segment was still intact,” comments Oliver. “It acted as the inspiration for creating the rest of the spaces.”

Oliver painted the original cabinet, as well as the new custom cabinets created by Expression in Wood that were designed to replicate the original piece, in a custom finish, and added stenciling to the recessed cabinet panels. The original hardware on the focal cabinet remained, though it was replated in a matte nickel finish. Waterworks Boulevard matte nickel hardware was used in the remainder of the grocer’s pantry.

The original cabinet also boasted an exciting bonus for Oliver. “Inside this cabinet are original tin inserts that the original owners of the home used to store things such as flour,” she comments.

Because there is also a butler’s pantry in the kitchen area, Oliver created a different use to make this room more functional. The grocer’s pantry now includes space for storing bulk supplies, brooms, vacuum cleaners and other large items.

“I installed two large broom closets that were anchored by a work surface in between,” explains Oliver. The CaesarStone countertop was well lit for occasions when catering crews would put the space to use, she adds.

The flooring in the room is a take-off on the old little hex tile design that was popular during the period when the house was built. The floor includes a border, as do all of the rooms in the kitchen space.

Family Spaces

“I knew that this kitchen would be used a lot for entertaining and family gatherings, so I designed it with that in mind. It was also designed for an intergenerational family – for parents, children and grandchildren,” reports Oliver about the main kitchen area.

To accommodate all who will use the kitchen, Oliver incorporated items such as double refrigerators, double ice makers, double dishwashers, two sinks (with a third in the butler’s pantry) – even a drink refrigerator for the grandchildren

In keeping with the look of the surrounding rooms, the kitchen features the same recessed panel cabinets from Expression in Wood, complete with Blum glides and exposed hinges for the cabinetry, island and desk area, complemented by Waterworks Boulevard matte nickel hardware.

“We can’t do lacquer in southern California because of our environmental controls, so the cabinets feature a beautiful catalyzed finish,” comments Oliver. “It’s a conversion type of finish that’s harder than a painted finish but not considered a lacquer finish.”

Honed concrete countertops from CaesarStone are featured on the perimeter of the room. “I chose this because of the durability of CaesarStone for a busy family,” stresses Oliver. “I also love the subtleness of how it looks so Old World, like it has been there forever. It’s a beautiful juxtaposition against the other textures in the room.”

The main texture she is speaking about is the marble used on the floors and walls. While wood plank floors are very popular in this type of home, Oliver chose instead to use a Cararra marble plank floor from Waterworks.

The same Cararra marble is also on the walls in a 3"x6" brick, separated by a darker gray Bardiglio marble for contrast.

Waterworks also supplied a custom stainless steel farmhouse sink that was extra wide and deep to accommodate clean ups from large family gatherings. It was paired with a faucet from Waterworks.

Thermador’s Professional Series appliances were used, including a 42" Custom Panel Side-by-Side built-in integrated refrigerator with internal ice maker, integrated nine-program dishwasher with custom panel, 30" stainless steel Double Wall Oven/Microwave and 48" Pro Grand Dual-Fuel range with titanium griddle.

The kitchen island was designed to look like a piece of furniture, and features a custom mahogany top by Expression in Wood that has been finished with a marine finish. The island also features an undermount island sink and faucet from Waterworks, and a U-Line undercounter refrigerator.

Lighting the kitchen was a struggle, according to Oliver, in keeping with Title 24, California’s new energy law. “I used 32 fluorescent recessed cans in the ceiling, with a satin lens to cover the bulb,” she explains. Undercounter lighting is also used throughout the room.

Oliver also raised the ceiling in the center of the kitchen, leaving a drop soffit around the outer perimeter due to venting issues.

Pantry Pleasantries

The long, galley style of the butler’s pantry posed some design challenges that were met with distinctive elements true to the home’s period and architecture.

“In the butler’s pantry, I wanted the cabinets – also created by Expression in Wood – to look very Americana, so I designed them to look like an American chest-on-chest,” explains Oliver. “It allowed me to use really long drawers to accommodate the large number of linens the current owners have.”

The custom finish on the cabinets is complemented by Waterworks Prism hardware in matte nickel and CaesarStone countertops. The room also features a cast iron farmhouse sink and faucet, both from Waterworks.

The butler’s pantry includes an integrated 36" custom panel bottom-mount refrigerator from Thermador, which resembles a Sheraton highboy.

“I integrated the refrigeration system so that it looks just like a piece of furniture,” she offers. A full-size integrated dishwasher from Thermador is also incorporated into the space.

The Cararra marble bricks from Waterworks featured on the walls of the kitchen are also incorporated into the butler’s pantry, also separated by the Bardiglio marble. The floor sports a diamond and dot pattern, incorporating Cararra as the diamond and Bardiglio as the darker keystones.

Complementary Design

Oliver infused the space with personal elements from her past to give it a cohesive feel. For example, each room features different but complementary stencil designs that were created from her grandmother’s candlewicking quilts.

“Artisan Ken Moffitt and I designed the stencils, which were used inside the kitchen and butler’s pantry cabinets, on the ceiling of the butler’s pantry, on the wall of the breakfast room, as a subtle stripe in the family room, and on the front of the grocer’s pantry in the recessed panels,” observes Oliver.

She also selected antique oil paintings that featured ships and boats – another of her interests from childhood – as well as images of ancestors and landscapes to put the finishing touches on this period space.