In search of inspiration on a local home tour, Jim and Sue Lyon found the perfect detail: a hand-scraped walnut floor in the kitchen of a new house they visited. The flooring’s dark-around-the-edges French bleed gave it a warm, antique look that appealed to the couple. Along with the creamy, glazed cabinetry and the integrated granite sink, the flooring immediately moved to the top of their remodeling must-have list.
The Lyons contacted the designer of that luxurious kitchen, Anita Sullivan, principal of Anita’s Designs, to help them create a space with a similar feel in their 1978 Golden Valley home. Having lived in the two-story house for 25 years, the empty nesters had become all too familiar with its limitations. In short order, their project became more ambitious than a simple kitchen remodel.
Though quite spacious, their long, narrow house didn’t live that way. A screened porch off the family room was rarely used; instead it blocked the light and cut off the main living spaces from the backyard. “Our original thought was to open the house front to back and remodel the kitchen,” says Jim. “We wanted to let in the sunlight.”
Sullivan proposed a plan to reconfigure the first-floor spaces, swapping the kitchen and family room, opening the wall separating the original dining and living rooms, and transforming the former screened porch into a dining room. “We hadn’t thought of moving the kitchen to integrate the kitchen and dining room, but it gave us a more open floor plan,” says Jim.
While they were at it, they decided to open up the front foyer, widen a hallway that now leads to a mudroom, revamp the stairway to the lower level, and exchange their sauna for a wine cellar. In fact, by the time the Lyons completed the renovation, they had improved every room in the house, as well as the exterior façade and the garage floor.
In the new kitchen, now more centrally located, Sullivan used the finishes the Lyons loved: antique-white custom cabinetry with an espresso glaze and oil-rubbed bronze knobs and pulls. She added a bespoke touch to the cabinet doors flanking the stove hood with textured glass and a circular design that echoes the motif of the new windows and arches. One expanse of floor-to-ceiling cabinetry camouflages the French-door refrigerator, while the other holds a steam/convection oven and microwave.
In contrast to the light and glass of the perimeter cabinetry, the enormous island is dark wood topped by polished granite in shades of cream, espresso, and honey; the same granite forms the deep, integrated sink. The island easily provides seating for four and plenty of serving space for entertaining.
The Lyons like decorative mosaics but struggled to find a design that felt right—until Jim spotted a photo of this one, patterned after tile work uncovered in a third-century excavation in Timgad, Algeria. Sullivan loved it, too: “I said, ‘It’s fabulous, but that’s your whole tile budget.’” The couple decided to splurge, reviewing a dozen iterations of the design until it became the room’s dazzling focal point.
The open kitchen and dining room—which both boast that hand-scraped walnut floor, as does the rest of the first floor—are now flooded with light. Expansive new windows allow the Lyons the full vista of their backyard, and the natural area beyond. The barrel ceiling, texturized with Venetian plaster and faux-painted for additional depth, lends interest and volume to the dining and sitting areas.
With new spaces, new finishes, and new flow, the homeowners barely recall their “old” house. “We’re entertaining more now,” Jim says. “When it was chopped up into small spaces. it wasn’t easy. Now it is.”
Designer: Anita Sullivan, anitasdesigns.biz • Builder: Schrader & Companies, schradercompanies.com • Custom color walnut floor by Palo Duro as supplied by A to Z Wood Flooring, Inc., atozwoodflooring.com • Custom cabinetry built by Modern Design, moderndesigncabinetry.com • Granite countertops and integrated sink by Capital Granite, capitalgranite.com • Custom mosaic under hood by Francois & Co., francoisandco.com • Backsplash tile supplied by RBC Tile & Stone, rbctile.com • Hardware supplied by The Brass Handle, brass-handle.com • Island pendants and dining sconces supplied by Southern Lights, southernlightsinc.com • Ceiling faux finish by Bruce Schabel • Faucet by Ferguson, ferguson.com • Island stools, dining chairs, lounge chairs, round table, and lamp supplied by Baker Furniture, bakerfurniture.com