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Great Wide Open

How a designer brought an open-concept room down to size.

By Catherine Warmerdam
Photography by Chad Davies
Interior Design: K Squared Interiors
Building Design: John Packowski Design
Contractor: Alli Construction

When interior designer Kristine Kelley’s clients moved from their small Manhattan apartment to a newly built 5,000-square-foot residence on Sacramento’s Crocker Road, they knew that decorating such an expansive space was too big a job for the two of them, despite their interest in design. Having met Kelley through a mutual friend and admired photos of her work, the couple entrusted her with creating a stylish yet comfortable setting where their family (they have two school-age daughters) would feel at home and guests (they are frequent entertainers) would want to linger.

By the time Kelley was hired, the home’s finishings—including the wide-plank oak floors, the black-trimmed windows and the gray-and-white kitchen scheme—were already in place. So Kelley concentrated on a threefold plan: to select furnishings and accessories that strike a fine balance between relaxed and refined. To blend the husband’s affinity for all things modern with the wife’s bent toward a more traditional aesthetic. And, most importantly, to figure out how to make the airy open-concept living space feel more intimate.

open concept kitchen

The spacious kitchen is where the homeowners host casual gatherings, including taco parties and weekend barbecues.

Because the living room is the first thing one sees upon entering the front door, it was important to the homeowners that it set the tone for the rest of the house. “I wanted it to be very family friendly, but I didn’t want it to be super casual. I was concerned that it would just be huge couches everywhere,” says the wife, who worked closely with Kelley throughout the design process.

What Kelley achieved is a sophisticated space that is at once chic and kid friendly. A mix of materials—leather, linen, velvet, wood, metal, limestone—brings visual interest to an area anchored by a large rounded-corner coffee table. An adjacent seating area strategically connects the living room to the kitchen while helping humanize the scale of the room. A restrained palette throughout—a soft mix of beiges, grays and blues—lends the space a sense of calm and order.

dining nook

“We have kids running around here so nothing could be too fancy,” says the homeowner. “We didn’t want it like a museum.”

In the dining nook, one of the few pieces of furniture that the couple brought with them from New York—a classic dining table with turned legs—is paired with streamlined white leather chairs. A separate formal dining area situated on the other side of the kitchen is where the couple enjoy adult dinners around a custom-made table.

In the master bedroom, where the furnishings are kept simple, the wow factor comes from a scalloped chandelier overhead. Kelley let the Holly Hunt linen mesh curtains just graze the floor. “I’ve always felt that curtains that don’t touch the floor are like pants that have been hemmed too short,” she says.

master bedroom

“The chandelier gives the room some extra oomph,” says designer Kristine Kelley.

Kelley credits the homeowners with making their “highly collaborative process” run so smoothly. “We share a lot of tastes, so that made things all the more easy,” says Kelley. “It was one of those dream projects with great clients and a great house.”

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