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To add visual interest to a Coronado condo’s kitchen, designer Roni Lechtenberg mimicked the island’s curve in the drop ceiling.

Now that everything except the sink has been moved in this Coronado penthouse kitchen, the cooking area finally has the ocean view it deserves. Although obtaining the panoramic lookout to the sea and Coronado Bay Bridge from this penthouse aerie was first on the priority list for Roni Lechtenberg’s clients, easy access and low maintenance weren’t far behind.

“When I removed one of the walls to open the kitchen into the dining room/living room area, it allowed for the ocean views and also gave me the space to add an island and eating bar,” Roni says. “The back side of the island has pullout trash and recycling bins and deep storage for larger items.”

Durable, hardwearing quartz slab on countertops is a breeze to clean and defines the kitchen’s new, sleek style. The glass backsplash adds a textured accent and brings in dash with its color variations.

“We selected grays and whites with dark wood,” Roni says. “The clients wanted a color palette that was masculine but that also allowed for pops of color in art and accessories.”

Quarter-sawn wenge veneer cabinets complement the porcelain tile kitchen flooring and the adjoining dining/living

room’s wood floor. The floors embrace one another in a patterned dance — an energized merger that marks a departure from the usual.

“The transition from wood to tile was an opportunity to do something different and bring the kitchen into the dining area and vice versa,” Roni explains. “To cut the transition off at the wall would have been predictable.”

Curved-back barstools echo the island’s curve. Their contemporary styling is similar to nearby chairs that surround the circular, glass dining table.

A Solana Beach couple wanted their cookie-cutter kitchen transformed into a high-end cook’s space with gorgeous detailing, but they weren’t sure whether to go Cape Cod or country French — two styles they adored. Interior designer Lisa Hoyt gave them both.

“The breezy Cape Cod look was created with wicker area rugs and window treatments, linen slipcovers on the chairs, distressed off-white paint on the cabinetry, a tad of bead boarding and the use of glass on some of the cabinet door fronts,” Lisa says. “The French touch shows up with the use of curvy corbels, wrought-iron cabinet handles and drawer pulls, and the fabulous antique chandelier and lantern lights.”

Instead of switching out cabinetry, Lisa switched out the cabinet fronts with trim and details. “We wanted them to have plenty of ridges so we could paint them a cream color, then glaze over that with a brown stain,” Lisa says. “That way the wash could get into the crevices and give the cabinets depth and interest.”

Dark wood used for flooring, the island countertop and a wine cooler provide contrast for the kitchen’s soft yellow, tan, caramel and cream color scheme. Two French doors conveniently lead to the barbecue area in the back yard, which also is home to a fireplace, lap pool and putting green.

“This kitchen has French and Cape Cod design features,” Lisa says, “but it also epitomizes Southern California living.

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DESIGNER CHERYL HAMILTON-GRAY typically works in the luxury market, but for a young couple in Carlsbad, the biggest criteria for their kitchen remodel was budget.

“We took on the challenge with gusto,” Hamilton-Gray says. “The husband, a Marine, is a family friend who had bought a 1950s bungalow fixer-upper to work on long term. Then he was deployed to Afghanistan, was injured in a heroic act and lost his left foot and use of his left arm. We pooled our design and contracting resources so we could help remodel his home to cope with the walking aids necessary between surgeries to eventually fit a prosthetic.”

The home’s uneven combination of peeling vinyl and tired carpeting were precarious for rehabilitation needs. Replacing those with inexpensive cork panels provided a safer, smoother, more resilient surface. An extra bonus was that the cork’s earth tones warmed up the chosen black/white/gray color theme.

“Another important factor in the flooring selection,” the designer says, “was that we needed a forgiving surface for the couple’s big, slobbering, but lovable, four-legged child: an English bulldog.”

As this was a pro-bono project for the wounded Marine, vendors generously provided low-cost materials. “A granite distributor heard of our plight and offered us his overstocked Luna Pearl stone for a song. We used it on the countertops and backsplash, and the combination of our simple color palette really pulled it all together,” Hamilton-Gray says.

Cabinetry also was chosen for its low price point. “We wanted a simple, flat-panel door in a contemporary finish and selected the chocolate-stained oak, flat-panel doors resembling the more fashionable wenge wood look,” the designer says. “To offset this, we installed glass-fronted wall cabinets flanking the sink window so the eye-level effect was softer.”

Removing walls between the living room and kitchen and replacing them with a pony wall opened up the space while maintaining a backing for base cabinetry. A larger, more accommodating island was installed as well.

“The changes allowed us to combine the tall storage elements in one location, leaving the rest of the kitchen open for base and wall cabinetry storage,” Hamilton-Gray says. “The flow also improved with generous thoroughfares around the island.”

Lighter, brighter and more open now, the kitchen has a crisp, contemporary aesthetic; and the final tally for this precedent-setting remodel was just over $13,000.

Kitchens/Baths: By Eva Ditler • Photography by Preview First


A bathroom redo steps up to challenging heights

BEING TALL HAS ITS ADVANTAGES. You can reach into those high places where the turkey platter is kept. When it comes to sports, you have longer strokes for swim-ming, better angles for tennis and extended strides for running. However, if you’re tall and you move into a house where the previous owner was short, you may find certain challenges.

Such was the case in the condo bath-room of designer Cynthia Ryan’s client. Besides feeling like a cooped-up rooster in a compact space, he couldn’t comfortably use the showerheads and vanity, which were too low. The bathtub was similarly unsuitable for his frame.

Cynthia ditched the shower/bath combo and opted instead for a luxury shower with a higher showerhead and a bench with a hand-held showerhead.

Old 4-by-4-inch white ceramic tiles were replaced with tumbled travertine in Baja Crème. The vanity height was raised; and to complement the shower wall, Cynthia chose a countertop of vein-cut travertine. Gold mirror frames bring out the rich colors in the stone.

The new bathroom is easier for the homeowner to navigate, and its design won Cynthia the 2013 Star Award in the Medium/Small Bath category from the San Diego Chapter of the National Kitchen & Bath Association.

By Eva Ditler • Photography by Preview First

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Adept design does big things does big things for a small space

EVEN THOUGH IT’S off the master bedroom, is it fair to refer to a 92-square-foot bathroom with one vanity and fuddy-duddy fluorescent lighting as a master bath?
Maybe not; but now that Anita Dawson has updated this still-tiny space, the room deserves all that the title implies.

“My clients wanted to create an inviting, spa-like bath that was very easy to maintain and that complemented the organic feel of their whole-house remodel,” Anita says.

To that end, a glass backsplash, porcelain floor tiles and quartz counters were selected. The sea glass, basket-weave backsplash and smooth-stone shower floor added texture and a sense of nature to the scheme.
“The homeowners also requested a bath that would not date too quickly; that is, nothing too trendy, but something more than just neutral.” The color palette’s calm undertone — a sophisticated hue between gray and beige — stands the test of time and fits the bill. Caesarstone counters are white.

“I love bright white counters in baths,” the designer says. “They provide a great contrast with wood vanities and always feel clean and fresh.”

She expanded the space without adding square footage
by raising the ceiling, adding mirrors on both sides of the room and replacing a fiberglass shower enclosure with a frameless shower. Removing a partition wall also added an airier spirit, and replacing a door to the side yard with a large window revived the room with natural light. A big bonus for the homeowners was a second vanity, which was achieved by removing 6 feet of closet space across from the vanity.

“The bath is still small,” Anita says, “but each element works together to create a nice room as a whole.”

Kitchens/Baths: By Eva Ditler • Photography by Brady Architectural Photography

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Turf & Surf


Having predominantly spent my formative years in the Midwest, the opportunities to go surfing were so few and far between that they were, essentially, nonexistent. The closest I got to the sport was watching Gidget movies at the drive-in.

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