Mashup our Home: Episode 2

Stark Punk: Mixing Minimalism with Steam Punk in a Ranch Home

Stephanie Russo

Sacramento, Calif.

About the project

When we first saw Sean and Dea Gallinger’s 1950's ranch home, we were struck by the number of DIY projects everywhere…that weren’t quite finished. They had started each one with gusto but then - as what happens to so many of us - decision paralysis sets in (and life with little kids!) and as a result, some of the walls were opened up, the flooring was incongruent and the home’s bones looked like a compilation of various construction projects that had been added upon over time.

After getting to know them better, it was also clear that their distinctly different design tastes - Dea prefers super minimal, sleek and modern while Sean likes a more industrial vibe with metals and raw wood  - was another factor in the perpetually in-progress but yet-to-be-completed home projects.To create their blended design vision, we started with Dea - whose design ethos felt crisp, clean and refined. She didn’t want clunky hardware, much color or any fluff. She wanted it, as we defined it, STARK. The Oxford definition of stark is “ bare by appearance” and we loved the restraint that the word put around our vision for the home’s design. In a Stark home, every design decision matters a lot, since it’s not clouded by clutter or a busy palette. Stark meets you at face value from the moment you see it, and there is beauty in its simplicity. 

Sean’s opposite taste, one that combines industrial elements with a desire for functionality and technology, brought us to draw inspiration from STEAM PUNK. From a design POV, the aesthetic draws from what is defined as “19th century steam powered machinery and an imagined retro-futuristic perspective of Victorian fashion, culture and machinery”. In today’s design terms, it’s applied in a way that uses utilitarian objects as decoration, with lots of metal, dark wood and leather finishes. Welcome to our concept for this home: Stark Punk. 

For this project, we focused on 1) transforming their main living room spaces from disjointed areas into one wide open concept; 2) completely overhauling their kitchen; 3) turning an old carport into an outdoor lounge area and dining space. For the materials and palette, we used the stark juxtaposition of white and black as the primary palette throughout, then peppered in three types of wood - white oak and walnut for cabinetry with a third, shou sugi ban’d red oak, as an island backsplash detail. Finally we choose copper and black steel as our metals to weave in sparingly throughout. 

The initial mood board for the project
touches of white oak, shou sugi ban, copper and qUARTZITE COME TOGETHER TO CREATE THIS STARK PUNK PALETTE

And a breakdown of the spaces we transformed:
Macab quartzite slab island countertop looks into a kitchen with white oak wood flush cabinetry,  dark wood open shelving, white countertops and matching backsplash with matte black hardware and pendant lighting.
Dark open shelving contrasts with flush light wood lower cabinetry. White veiny countertops and flowing backsplash allow a black matte pot filler and range to pop.
Grey veiny countertop island and custom black and copper light installation with view of dining room and copper tiled wet bar.
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  • The original kitchen was demo’d down to the studs, we also pulled back the walls on both sides of the room to open them up further to the adjacent living spaces. After the demo, there was a lot of structural work needed in order to level off ceiling heights and open up walls between the rooms. Full warning, it’s never a “hey lets just bust into a wall to open it up” sort of project when working with an older home. It requires planning, time and yep usually more money than you wish it would be.  But in this case, all of the legwork truly transformed the way the Gallingers are able to use their new space. 
  • Our main goal when laying out the kitchen was to add a huge 14 foot island to the room, which would serve as an entertainment area that could seat a lot of people, be a prep table for the nearby dining room, and most importantly serve as a piece of art, since it is intended to be the main focal point that draws your eye to it as soon you enter their home. 
  • We had white oak flat-front cabinets custom built for this kitchen for a more modern moment, then added a walnut-wrapped hood with open shelving for a subtle pop of punk. We also incorporated painted cream colored uppers to break up all the white oak and white walls in the space and add a hint of interest without being too overwhelming. It’s just a hint, but it ever-so-slightly sets it apart! 
  • For kitchen countertops, we used two contrasting white and grey quartz materials, with the white quartz used as the main kitchen countertops, the backsplash and as a border along our new window wall (yes it was a lot of quartz but man is it pretty!), since we wanted minimal grout lines to create a stark, modern look. The moody, veiny grey quartz that we added to the big island gave it instant contrast and helped really set it apart from the rest of the kitchen. 
  • On and above the island we added two of our own special DIY elements. To create depth and texture against the modern cabinets and sleek quartz, we chose to shou sugi ban 14 feet worth of red oak that we hung horizontally on the kicksplash to create a bold contrast. Shou sugi ban is an ancient Japanese architectural technique that is used to preserve wood by charring the surface with a hot flame. (Which means we got to use blow torches and look like badasses while we did it). Then above the island, Kele created a 12 foot long industrial light fixture, which was made with steel pipes painted black and black electrical wire, hung together by copper fittings with round, milk glass bulbs.  
Custom screen wall lends privacy to dining room with round dining table, Hem cognac leather chairs, and an oversized white pendant light.
Grey veiny waterfall island countertop with leather stools, and a custom black and copper light installation.
Honey chestnut round dining table from Burke Decor paired with cognac leather Hem dining chairs and an oversized white pendant light.
Honey chestnut round dining table from Burke and Decor paired with cognac leather Hem dining chairs and an oversized white pendant light.
Black stained wooden wet bar with copper tile backsplash, matte black hardware, round milk glass sconces, and a built in fridge.
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Dining Room and Wet Bar

  • We wanted to create definition within the open concept and create a touch of intimacy within the dining space, so we separated the space a bit from the entry way by designing a simple, horizontal white oak divider wall that came out from the front door about six feet and sat atop a long white oak buffet table (both custom made by our cabinet maker and wood worker) - giving them extra storage too. You can never have too much storage! 
  • We chose a round table that we centered underneath a massively oversized modern dining light, which was made out of a crisp white felt but had a fluid shape to it for a touch of whimsy. Both elements help create symmetry within the space and helped draw your eye to the center of the room.
  • We fully rehabbed Sean’s bar, tearing it down then building back in new cabinetry. We ran plumbing to it (which is good to account for during planning and demo stage if you want to do it) so that it could become a wet bar, then we added matching white quartz countertops, applied oversized copper tile backsplash and open shelving in white oak so that the wet bar and kitchen complemented each other yet have their own distinct flare. The copper addition was definitely the most pronounced punk moment of this project, but to keep in balance with our stark counterpart we chose a more refined, modern application of it - by going with oversized, smooth tiles with few grout lines vs actual (smudge-able) copper sheets.
Custom design and hand painted geometric carport with light wood outdoor dining table and chairs.
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Outdoor Living and Dining Room

  • To transform the outdoors, we started by busting out all of the broken concrete that sat just beyond their living room slider to make way for decomposed granite - which would serve as a way to visually break up the existing materials in their backyard and give it a modern tone.
  • We added wide steps just off the slider (there were none there so there was just a big drop off) that we tiled in a fun geometric black and white pattern, then we plumbed a gas line through the D.G. and added a large fire pit and seating area centered outside their slider.
  • We wanted to turn their dilapidated carport into useable space, and we knew it was a space that could look VERY different with not a lot of dough. On the ceiling, we wired it for recessed lighting then added 10 foot redwood planks all across the top, which helped finish off the space and make it feel like a “room”. 
  • Kele designed a one-of-a-kind geometric, modern mural pattern that would serve as the backdrop for their dining room area. After he drew it on his computer, we projected the image up on the wall at night, chalked it out, then hand painted it in a palette consistent to what we used inside - black, white and hints of copper. 
  • Finally, we added lots of potted plants to bring the whole thing to life as well as a large modern dining table with white directors chairs (for the adults) and bench seating - which is always perfect for loading up with kiddos!

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