Image: Tracey Ayton | Designer: Karla Amadatsu
Classic touches and natural accents take a builder-basic house from plain to pleasing.
Usually when we talk about a house that has great "renovation potential," we're referring to a fixer-upper with a ton of charm. But in this case, it was a typical 12-year-old spec house that struck the vivid imagination of designer Karla Amadatsu of Kerrisdale Design.
When she and her husband, Jeff, purchased the 4,150-square-foot home in Langley, B.C., two years ago, they appreciated its formal layout, good bones, attractive exterior and family-friendly cul-de-sac setting. (They share the house with their children, Ben, 9, and Carys, 7.) The problem was all the brown. But Karla, who is known for her sophisticated “new traditional” style, could see beyond the interior’s builder-basic look. “It felt like a great family home the minute I toured it,” says Karla.
Through a cosmetic makeover done in stages over two years, Karla transformed the space by painting everything white, installing dark hardwood floors and adding architectural details like new fireplace mantels with marble surrounds (while removing some slightly odd decorative features, such as faux pillars). “The facade of the house, with its dormer windows, is quite traditional and charming,” says Karla. “So we wanted to have the same vibe on the inside, with timeless furnishings and finishes.”
The kitchen – the hub of the home – exemplifies the airy, sophisticated style and is a remarkable study in updating a basic space without starting from scratch. The original cherry-stained cabinetry was extended to the ceiling using additional cabinets and crown moulding to create more storage and then painted white for a seamless look. The island was also dressed up with panelling, white paint and a marble countertop. Finishing touches include a custom-panelled range hood (which replaced a built-in microwave oven), an inexpensive ceramic-tiled backsplash, polished-nickel hardware and a pair of show-stopping pendant lights. “Those were a bit of a splurge,” says Karla.
Even though designing the house to meet her vision took a lot of time and effort, Karla is ready to take on a new project and is currently on the hunt for a family home she can once again put her stylish stamp on.
The walnut-stained wire-brushed oak floors and new mouldings give the entryway timeless character, while the black faux-bamboo dresser offers handy storage.
Keeping the original cabinetry, designer Karla Amadatsu and her husband, Jeff, transformed the kitchen by filling the gap between the uppers and the ceiling and painting everything white. Details like the ceramic-tiled backsplash with light grey grout, decorative toe kicks and polished-nickel hardware dress up the space and create a fresh, traditional look.
The family room, which is adjacent to the kitchen’s eat-in area, is both elegant and relaxed, with a neutral colour scheme and a mix of classic and clean-lined furnishings. Karla transformed the fireplace – which was surrounded by a busy combination of built-in shelves and niches – with drywall, a mantel found on Craigslist and marble subway tiles installed picture-frame style around the gas insert.
To enhance the elegant aesthetic while keeping it inviting and fresh, Karla incorporated both classic and clean-lined pieces, natural fabrics, textural elements, a combination of metals and a neutral palette with hits of black. Artwork, such as a set of German botanical charts and a painting of a birch tree, brings in a bit of nature.
The living room, with its neutral palette and warm mix of textures, gets a formal vibe from the chic scalloped-linen pendant light, marble-topped gold-leaf iron coffee table and herringbone marble fireplace surround.
A mixture of patterns and textures throughout the home reaffirms the traditional and charming look Karla was going for when renovating the house.