Houzz Tour: Happy Clients Unwrap a New Home on Christmas

Project manager Ben Cervantes pushed especially hard for the quick completion of this Santa Barbara, California, remodel. “My clients lost their beloved home of 30 years in the 2008 wildfires, so our team and, of course, architect Richard Warner wanted to come through for them by completing this home remodel by Christmas Day,” says Cervantes. And come through they did — the clients not only came home to a completed house, but more important, to a fireproof home with a seamless indoor-outdoor connection and an expansive grand room filled with natural light.

Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here: A sociology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a graphic designer and illustrator
Location: Santa Barbara, California
Size: 2,400 square feet

Contemporary Exterior by Allen Construction

Allen Construction

Cervantes and his team removed the home’s existing wood siding and replaced it with noncombustible plaster. The stucco exterior departs from the home’s roots as a midcentury ranch house, a sacrifice the clients were willing to make for the sake of safety.

The team also eliminated other weak links — places in the home where embers can burn, like wood eaves and other combustible exterior materials.

Roofing: fiber cement, Monier

Contemporary Entry by Allen Construction

Allen Construction

A large pivoting door greets guests at the entry and connects the interior with the outdoors.

Flooring: solid white oak, Old Tyme Floor

Before Photo

Traditional  by Allen Construction

Allen Construction

BEFORE: The home had limited windows that didn’t maximize its lush views. Partway through the remodel, the clients’ daughter visited the house and suggested creating an expansive great room by opening up the living room, dining room and kitchen.

“It changed the scope of the remodel — and the budget — but our clients are now more than happy with the results,” says Cervantes.

Contemporary Living Room by Allen Construction

Allen Construction

AFTER: NanaWall doors open up the interior to the outdoors. Cervantes and team ran the electrical wiring that was previously stored in the interior wall in a new beam running the length of the room.

Armchairs, sofa, coffee table: Restoration Hardware

Contemporary Kitchen by Allen Construction

Allen Construction

One of the major challenges of the job was finding a way to support the roof after the team removed a load-bearing wall between the kitchen and living room.

In the end, the team kept two of the steel columns, but they weren’t very pleasant to look at. “One of our carpenters suggested cladding the columns with 3/4-inch white oak to match the floors and kitchen cabinetry,” Cervantes says. “For decorative flair, he also suggested adding an oak plinth block at the column’s base.” The exposed beams and column accentuate the room’s expansiveness.

Dining table, chairs: Restoration Hardware

Contemporary Family Room by Allen Construction

Allen Construction

“We refaced the two existing fireplaces with dark gray plaster, turning them into focal points on opposite sides of the room,” says Cervantes.

Armchair, sofa: Pottery Barn

Before Photo

Traditional  by Allen Construction

Allen Construction

BEFORE: The old wall divided the kitchen from the dining room and living room.

Contemporary Kitchen by Allen Construction

Allen Construction

AFTER: The team used the clients’ existing appliances but applied a few cosmetic changes: The refrigerator was refaced with 1/4-inch oak plywood to match the new cabinets, the stove hood was framed and plastered, and Ceasarstone countertops and custom cabinetry were installed for a warm wood and white kitchen.

New low-e (low emissivity) glass skylights drench the kitchen with plenty of light. The low-e skylights are more energy efficient than the previous Plexiglas skylights; they block heat gain, minimize heat loss through the skylight and let in a comfortable stream of light.

Bar stools: Crate & Barrel

Eclectic Landscape by Allen Construction

Allen Construction

When the clients left the home to visit their daughter on Christmas Eve, scaffolding and building supplies were still strewn throughout. The couple had already let go of the idea of spending Christmas Day in a completed home — but little did they know that a Christmas miracle was waiting for them upon their return. They came back to a spotless house: The scaffolding was gone and the painting was completed.

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