Mashup Our Home: Episode 1

Bright Harmony: Bringing New Life to a Land Park Bungalow

Stephanie Russo

Sacramento, Calif.

About the project

The Durston Family came to us looking for help with their two bedroom, two bath home in Land Park, Sacramento. Their main wants were: 1) to upgrade their very original 1950’s kitchen, 2) turn their dilapidated garage into usable living space; 3) give them a front yard patio (if budget allowed) and 4) to re-style their front living spaces.

We live in the same neighborhood as Sara and Jeff and our kids go to school together, so there was a lot of pressure to get this one right...since we’ll likely be seeing them around the neighborhood for the next decade!

Sara wanted her home to be white, light and all neutral - to balance out the daily chaos she came home to after working all day as a lawyer -  and Jeff, a school teacher, wanted to lean into the energy by adding color and patterns. He’s also a musician and his love language with his kids is sitting down at night and playing tunes while Alice and George sing and play along beside him.

We loved his story and we love how music can make you feel. Music is energizing and lively, it’s HARMONIOUS. The Oxford dictionary definition of harmony is ”the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords and chord progressions having a pleasing effect”.  That was it, harmony was what we wanted to bring into their new home for Jeff. Then, we’d layer the harmonious elements with calming, bright tones for Sara to bring in a sense of serenity: Bright Harmony.

When choosing materials and a palette, we wanted to retain a retro ethos throughout the house so as to not stray too far from the house’s original 1950’s architecture. We proposed introducing materials such as cork flooring, tambour and bamboo to bring in texture (and a sense of playfulness for Jeff) while keeping it neutral and light for Sara. Then our (original) plan was to layer in (lots of) color via a poppy backsplash tile for Jeff. We started here for the kitchen, which you can see was also inspired by an equally-loved-by-both-parties Heath Ceramics mixing bowl found in the kitchen during our walkthrough:

Initial moodboard for the project

But in the end, that was too much color for Sara! So we eliminated the yellows, oranges and golds completely from the palette and leaned heavily on blues. That said, we ultimately did sneak in a gorgeous blush accent by way of adding this Fireclay Tile to the backsplash in the Backyard bungalow.

Here is a breakdown of the spaces we transformed:
A butcher block free standing kitchen island with blue penny tile creates stylish functionality for this natural and airy feeling kitchen.
Health and Echeri ceramics compliment this natural wood  butcher block kitchen island.
Blue penny tile and subway tile paired with a yellow pendant pops against classic white kitchen cabinetry with a quartz corner sink.
This kitchen's natural light highlights the light wood butcher block free standing island.
Stained white oak paneling and blue subway tile complete this custom wrapped kitchen range hood and backsplash.
Blue penny tile pops against a clean white and natural wood pantry with smart plugs.
Dual toned checkered floor, pops of blue tile, and yellow accent lighting bring a bright harmony to this kitchen with a butcher block free standing island, clean white cabinetry and quartz countertops.
Functional and organized mud room with custom built natural wood bench and white upper cabinetry.
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  • We demo'd the kitchen down to the studs so that we could completely reconfigure it, making room for a small island, and a layout that provided a functional working triangle - moving the stove, fridge and sink all within the same room (their fridge was previously in their mudroom!)
  • We reconfigured their existing laundry room to create a proper mudroom with bench seating, upper cabinet storage and added a large French door that opened up to a brand new deck.
  • We built in a new walk-in pantry (by borrowing space from the bedroom behind it) with smart plugs and a nice big countertop so that the storage space doubles as an appliance garage.
  • We added oversized checkered tile flooring throughout the kitchen and mudroom in a taupe duotone pattern; installed white prefab cabinetry, quartz countertops and splurged on Fireclay tile backsplash, which we applied in a classic pattern true to the home's era; we wrapped the hood in horizontal white oak planks; put in all new windows since the originals were painted shut; and added retro-inspired wood and chrome hardware to tie all the wood accents together. Finally we added a pop of color by way of a mustard colored kitchen pendant over the sink. \\
  • For the freestanding island, we applied a butcher block countertop to contrast the quartz, then added blue penny tile to the kicksplash for a subtle burst of energy in the space.

This backyard bungalow boasts both a spacious communal area with a day bed and a creatively organized custom built-in modular shelving, closet with a queen guest bed.
This bungalow kitchenette brings in calmer pops of color through a vintage powder blue  refrigerator and pink and white subway tiles.
A queen sized guest bed fits into a custom built-in modular closet and shelving for a space saving guest area.
This Backyard Bungalow boasts a custom made built-in light blue closet and shelving unit with unique lighting above guest bed.
Custom built craft nook lends itself to both functionality and fun!
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Backyard Bungalow

  • To make this space habitable we added ceiling supports, insulation, wired the room for recessed lighting, added a mini HVAC system and plumbed it for a new ½ bathroom and kitchenette.
  • We removed the original garage door and sheet rocked / stuccoed over it’s opening, in order to re-orient the space and create the main opening through a new set of French doors that could better connect to the grassy area.
  • Where we took out the garage door, we added clerestory windows across the entire side facing the main kitchen to bring in more light.
  • For flooring, we ground down the existing concrete floor to level it out, then we seal it to prevent cracks, and applied a slate blue linoleum over the entire surface.
  • For the kitchenette, we installed prefab cabinets, applied a walnut butcher block countertop, Fireclay tile backsplash (in the same pattern as the kitchen but in a different palette); added open shelving and a new-yet-vintage looking powder blue fridge. To maximize every square inch, we also tucked a small crafting / workstation in at the end of the kitchen’s counter.
  • For the modular hotel suite, we rehabbed an old bookshelf for the guts and custom-designed a CNC-routed white oak facade that we applied with a blue furniture linoleum to for another pop of color. We bought a bed and built a frame with casters so it could easily slide out for sleeping and in for sitting. Finally, we installed a curtain track system for privacy, but one that can also be tucked back out of the way for extra living space when unoccupied.
This bright and airy living room was created through pastel pops of pink and blue and natural elements of greenery, lots of light, and a sleek caramel leather couch all focused around the red brick fireplace.
A modern sleek caramel leather couch, paired with a funky vintage baby blue swivel chair creates a warm and inviting living room.
Twin baby blue vintage swivel chairs paired with custom pastel art work and greenery create a comfortable and inviting living room.
A honey MCM coffee table and a caramel leather couch ties a living room full of blue accents to a dining room with a refurbished dining table and vintage mustard yellow dining room chairs.
Knoll fabric gave this client's newly reupholstered "tea chair" some new life!
A clients freshly reupholstered blue "tea chair" and local artist's gold wind chime pieces breaks up the space between the living room and dining room.
Contemporary white Nelson saucer dining room pendant light.
Vintage pieces like these retro mustard yellow dining chairs and arched wicker mirror add personality to this refinished dining room table.
Unique pieces like this arched vintage mirror and retro mustard yellow dining chairs harmonize with this refurbished hardwood dining room table for a music inspired home.
Client's personal piano was the inspiration for this music room with twin shelving and handmade textured woven wallpaper from Weitzner.
This music corner brings in color and defined as its own space with handmade textured woven wallpaper from Weitzner.
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Living and Dining Spaces

(Bonus Material, since the dining room and music space didn’t make the cut!)

  • For the living room, we used color to create definition from all the white walls that Sara loved and wanted to keep.
  • We added a large leather couch to bring in some warmth, two vintage blue swivel chairs, a proportionally sized MCM coffee table and focused the room around the fireplace - which had beautiful, existing brick on it that we wanted to highlight.
  • We loaded the room with live plants to bring in energy for Jeff.
  • We created a reading nook for Sara (she loves to read with tea!) and we reupholstered her favorite chair in a textured Knoll fabric; then we worked with a local artist to create a beautiful brass and wood wall hanging to hang above it.
  • In the dining room, we created a sense of place for Jeff and his kids’ jam sessions; we wallpapered the wall to define it as its own space; centered the piano and added freestanding bookshelves on either side of the piano to create additional symmetry.
  • In the dining room, we rehabbed their existing dining table by stripping it down and refinishing it; we found super funky vintage dining chairs to pair with it, and re-wired their existing light fixture so that it was centered above the dining table rather than floating in the middle of the room.
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Exterior Upgrades

  • To create a front yard patio, we dedicated about ½ of the yard to the new space by removing the (dead) grass; grading the area; adding new irrigation then laying pavers in a 12 x 12 foot area large enough to comfortably fit a table and chairs.
  • We used the same pavers to create a pathway to their driveway and added planting and decomposed granite to delineate the new space from the existing grass and give the kids a sturdy material to play on.
  • We rehabbed the front door by applying door putty to holes and cracks, painted the door blue; restored the existing hardware with some elbow grease and Brasso and added a kick plate to protect it from future foot kicks.
  • We repainted all of their beige stucco white and power washed brick to give it a fresh start; then we filled the whole space with plants that fit the era of the bungalow home.