Before & After: By Eva Ditler
A common wall becomes a dual-sided media center. Before designer Karl Utzman came along, the centerpiece of this 1980s tract home living room was the glaring metal hardware and hinges on the cabinetry doors. The cabinetry in the family room on the opposite side of the shared wall also had hinges that shone like knights in armor, but at least the door hardware had the decency to hide underneath a coat of white paint. This allowed the gaudy fireplace with its stone façade to be the less-than-shining star of the room.
Each room featured its own flat-screen TV. Unfortunately, in the living room, the screen toddled on top of a tiny stand, and in the family room, a glass coffee table pretended to be a TV stand.
Thankfully Utzman came to the rescue in a redesign that turned the common wall into a masterpiece of craftsmanship. Floor-to-ceiling, natural-wood cabinetry in both rooms is elegantly designed with custom molding. Hinge work is hidden and knobs are discreet, complementing the craftsman style. Varying depths and heights accommodate televisions, AV components, DVDs and gaming systems. Under-cabinet and canned lighting showcases artwork and homeowner collections. Fireplaces, with marbled granite hearths, lend even more warmth.
Ultzman’s newly created shared wall gives each room a functional and aesthetically pleasing focal point. The redo also won him the Best Other Room award in the 2011 National Kitchen Bath Association, San Diego Chapter, Design Competition.