Making a move from the Northeast to Southern California can be overwhelming, especially with four children. This family took it slow, renting for a while, before committing to a two-story, 3,840-square-foot home with five bedrooms and 3½ bathrooms in Coronado. It had the perfect location, close to the Village and the beach.
The homeowners, who prefer to remain anonymous, told their designers —Jessica Nicolls and Karyn Frazier of Bungalow 56 — that they loved the property’s great backyard, which included a pool and hot tub.
The house, however, was another story. It looked every inch its 40-plus years and was short a child’s bedroom upstairs. The fifth bedroom, downstairs, was fine as a playroom for their youngest, but the parents wanted all the kids — two girls and two boys, who ranged in age from 5 to 14 — to have bedrooms on the same level as theirs.
The solution was a top-to-bottom renovation that would lighten up the home and rework the floor plan to accommodate the whole family.
“That was one of our design goals — to make sure the kids had enough spaces,” Nicolls said. By the end of the project, each child had their own room, a new bathroom was added for the girls, an existing bathroom was renovated for the boys and an upstairs media area was created for the family to share.
The rest of the home enjoyed an equally stunning transformation. The team from Bungalow 56, which has a retail store where most of the home’s furnishings were found, collaborated with the wife throughout the process.
“She was very specific about the look and feel she wanted for the house and wanted to be involved in a lot of the details,” Nicolls explained. “We would source materials and then give her options and she’d pick from there.
“Her father was a woodworker, so she was big on making sure there were wood tones throughout the whole house,” Nicolls said. “But she also wanted it super bright and warm.”
Mission accomplished. The finished home gives off a peaceful feeling with mostly neutrals, whites and wood cementing the design. White oak floors were installed throughout, except in the bathrooms, which have tile. On the first floor, the walls and the wood ceilings are white.
The home’s front exterior originally had the look of a faux English cottage combined with a heavy application of late 20th-century SoCal stucco. Dark brown trim highlighted the beige stucco, and a wall of red brick surrounded the garage door. The home’s covered entrance meant the front door was set back from the exterior wall.
Nicolls and Frazier created a much improved first impression. All the old trim was removed for a clean look. The house, including the brick, was repainted white. A wood eyebrow pergola, painted brown, was installed over the garage door.
The design team aligned the front door with the home’s façade for what Nicolls calls “a grand entrance,” which also provided more entry space inside. They also replaced all the windows and doors.
Reworking the interior was a little more complicated. The first floor had different elevations, and many were uneven. The kitchen and formal dining areas were enclosed, with funky step-downs into each area.
Nicolls said they couldn’t level the entire first floor to its lowest point, which would have made the ceilings feel higher. Instead, they had to come up to the highest point, resulting in 8-foot ceilings. A second staircase by the garage was removed to create more space upstairs, which was reconfigured to add that fifth bedroom.
Downstairs, the design team removed the staircase and interior walls and installed a structural beam across the length of the now-open living, kitchen and dining room. Then they had to determine how to make the 44-by-37-foot space feel casually elegant and homey — not like a cavernous bowling alley.
In the living area, the designers grounded the space with a large custom-made sectional covered in a charcoal gray performance fabric. They brought in two white swivel armchairs, also made with performance fabrics, to create a conversation area with the sofa and added a square, stained white oak coffee table in the middle.
The fireplace, with a custom woven-seat bench in front of it, is covered in white plaster and surrounded by oak built-ins painted pale oak.
Behind the swivel chairs is the front door, with room for a long bench next to it under the new windows. The designers also installed a wall of windows on the opposite wall facing the backyard to bring in light.
For the dining area, the designers wanted a light fixture that was transparent enough to see through to the backyard, so they brought in a glass-and-steel look. For the kitchen island, they used pendants with a little pop of brass inside three big glass domes.
“So, one ceramic fixture, one glass, and one steel — but they all line up together,” Nicolls said.
The wife is a good cook, said Nicolls, and she wanted the kitchen to be clean and simple. Behind the island is a wall of white cabinets with open shelving above the counter and plenty of drawers, plus a pantry, a six-burner with griddle Thermador oven and a Thermador refrigerator/freezer.
“The wife picked out the color of the cabinets and it was one of the hardest colors to work with because it had a slight red tint to it,” said Nicolls, “We picked out dishes from our store for the family and the dishes kept accentuating the red in the cabinets so it took a while to find a very specific color that would work with that cabinet color.”
Both the breakfast nook and dining tables are dark-stained oak, and they share the same dark wood chairs.
The dining table seats 10. Above it is that steel-and-glass fixture — a dramatic art deco meets contemporary 59-inch Ravelle Linear Chandelier from RH in dark bronze. The area is set off by a 14-by-12-foot vintage Persian rug.
The designers also created a multifunctional desk in white against the wall behind the dining table that could be used for serving food or as a desk with two woven chairs.
With the back staircase removed, Nicolls and Frazier could separate and move around the rooms upstairs to establish the children’s four bedrooms and two bathrooms, the lounge area, and a reconfigured primary that now also includes a home office. They even popped in a little laundry room where the top of the stairs had been.
The older daughter decorated her room, but the designers worked with the other three kids on their bedrooms. The younger daughter picked out sweet floral wallpaper, an Arts and Crafts-style spindle bed and a pink duvet. One of the boys has a loft area for him to climb into and a little reading nook.
The boys’ bathroom has a dramatic black-and-white color scheme with 3D-looking floor tiles called Barcela Ingot from Cole Tile. There’s black wainscotting around the room, which sets off the light oak vanity and its white counter, as well as the shower enclosure with its white subway tiles.
The kids’ media room off the top of the stairs continues the serene feel of the rest of the house. The material of the off-white custom sofa and dark, striped bench are performance fabrics, but even so, Nicolls said they used a darker patterned fabric on the bench for durability. The shelving unit in the lounge is from Pottery Barn.
Finally, there’s the parents’ suite. Neutrals continue here. It’s airy and calming, with white walls and ceiling and the oak floors. In addition to remodeling the bathroom, the other structural change was to cut in half the original large walk-in closet to create a space for the husband’s home office.
The entrance to the suite has a cozy chaise longue in grey performance fabric, with a large — almost to the ceiling — black framed mirror leaning against the wall behind it. Continue walking and you enter the sleeping area, which was outfitted with items from Bungalow 56 — everything from the rug and side tables to the dresser.
The headboard was custom made with a performance fabric and the bedding is from Pottery Barn. The adjoining bathroom, with its large free-standing soaking tub, has Navajo Zebra black- and-white floor tile from Cole Tile with black dual sink vanity cabinets.
The renovation took almost two years and was completed in 2020.
“This is one of our favorite projects to date,” said Nicolls. “It was a pleasure to work with a client that had an eye for design, and we feel like we were all pushed creatively to make a home that was not only functional for their family but beautiful. So much thought went into every detail and each space is a perfect balance of warmth, blended textures, and clean lines.”