I’ve always been pretty much detail-oriented. I love beautiful surroundings and have an eye for balance and color. Interior design truly was my calling. While I was enrolled in Interior Design classes at Davis College in Toledo, Ohio, our class had a fantastic opportunity to spend a long weekend in Chicago. While there we visited Oak Park, Illinois. That Chicago suburb is where Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) had many of his Prairie style house designs built, as well as his own home, and studio. If you aren’t familiar with Wright’s work, he was one of the most extraordinary men of our time.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s career spanned more than seven decades. He did most of his work from nineteen hundred through the nineteen fifties. He designed houses, schools, churches, public buildings, and office buildings. Architectural experts and enthusiasts say Frank Lloyd Wright was one of America’s most creative architects. One critic said his ideas were fifty years ahead of the time in which he lived.
Unlike Victorian houses, Frank Lloyd Wright wanted to achieve a sense of intimacy and coziness. So, ceiling heights of prairie homes were brought down to “human” proportions. He designed open floor plans, instead of traditional boxed-in rooms. Wright believed in creating flexible, mixed-use spaces.
You don’t have to be an architect or designer to admire Wright’s genius and foresight. The architecture of Wright’s Prairie style houses fascinated me. Wright gave careful consideration to the materials he used. If you have any interest in Prairie style architecture, I strongly recommend visiting Oak Park and Chicago.
However, today’s blog is not about Wright’s work. My story is about our clients who thought like Frank Lloyd Wright. I met Shawn and Jennifer back in 2013. They had recently purchased a house. Jenny had several very specific requests for her new home. She had a clear vision of what was important to them, their likes, and dislikes. Like Frank Lloyd Wright, Jenny fascinated me. She asked me to design what they loved, and the results were nothing short of stunning! This dramatic transformation is sure to leave you speechless.
But before we go any further… let me describe this large estate home. The house sat behind the gates of “Sawgrass” in Venice, Florida. This gated community home was strategically located on a luxurious, private, preserve lot located at the end of a beautiful cul-de-sac. Upon my first visit, I was drawn in by the curb appeal and lush landscaping, not to mention the oversized three car garage. The handsome paver driveway had ample parking for multiple guests. As soon as I entered the front door, I saw a stunning expansive great room. The house actually had over 3,000 sq. ft. of indoor living space.
Jenny wanted me to help her design an updated kitchen, a master ensuite, a guest bathroom, and a laundry room. She wanted a gourmet kitchen with all the bells and whistles. She sought after a new kitchen layout that would include plentiful pantry storage and with top-of-the-line Thermador appliances. These top-of-the-line appliances were going to be especially useful when Shawn and Jennifer hosted a large crowd. My new designs included a six-burner gas range and a 48-inch wide refrigerator/freezer. The gas range truly will make this chef’s dream kitchen a pleasure to work in. Jenny requested an oversized island, a glass backsplash, and custom mixed wood cabinetry.
Remember what I wrote earlier about Jenny thinking like Frank Lloyd Wright? Well, Jenny’s braveness, taste, and style were years ahead of time. You see, this was waayyy before people started mixing wood colors in their kitchens. Long before homeowners mixed two different paint colors for the main area and islands. In fact, Jenny asked me to design their new kitchen with not just two different wood species and colors, but with three!!! Jenny pushed for something original… something that hadn’t been done yet. She wanted rooms that would speak and most certainly she was not following a rule book.
This story only gets better with the master ensuite.
Sometimes less isn’t more, it’s less, and that’s the point. Although the existing master ensuite was huge and provided plenty of room to move around, it felt cold and barren. The taupe tiles, unfashionable walls, and outdated cabinets needed to go. Jenny wanted to streamline and minimize the look to go with a more contemporary feel, much like what her new kitchen was going to be. She also wanted an amazing walk-in closet, large contemporary his-and-her vanities, and a walk-in spa shower. The new “car wash” of showers included an overhead rain shower, as well as a handheld body spray.
Much like the kitchen, Jenny asked for something that wasn’t yet trendy. She wanted a freestanding soaking tub with Roman filler. This would offer a second option for relaxation. The contractor carried shower wall tile as wainscoting around the tub area for a continuous look and feel. The redesigned space went from barren to show-stopping, drop-dead gorgeous!
The finished project is just out of the box look the clients wanted: a modern kitchen, a stunning master ensuite, a beautiful guest bathroom, and a luxurious laundry room. As you can see in the “after” photos, all the rooms came together beautifully. I’m thrilled I was able to help bring it to life. This home now has all in the finest details and nothing has been missed. Shawn and Jennifer were an absolute pleasure to work with. Jenny, especially, provided me with a rare experience of having confidence in her choices and ideas. This collaboration will forever be a shining highlight for me in my career.
I hope this blog inspires you with your own creations and helps you allay any fears you might have of thinking outside of the box. See you next week.