Open, Friendly, Light, and Lovely
In this South Hill home, the lovely and the practical coexist: floor-to-ceiling cabinetry is paired with floor-to-ceiling windows, an automatic dog door has as important a role to play as stunning cuts of granite, and cozy nooks are balanced with open spaces ideal for both family life and entertaining. When Jane and Brian Petersen and their two children moved in around five years ago, they knew they’d update the kitchen at some point. But “once we lived here for a little while, we knew it was more than redo the kitchen,” says Jane.
The home felt dated, with a mix of linoleum flooring and carpet and pony walls leading to the second story. “It was so 1980s,” says Jane with a laugh. They envisioned a first floor remodel that would result in a home filled with lots of light, capitalizing on the amazing bluff views from their rear windows, which were tragically downplayed with the original floorplan. “We have a great view. We wanted to take advantage of that,” Brian says. They wanted a space that would work as well for their family of four (plus dog, Crosby) as for hosting friends, family, and neighbors, with an updated kitchen and a dining room that was open to the rest of the house. Brian and Jane made initial updates, installing hardwood floors to replace the carpet and re-casing some of the windows, but beyond that, they wanted advice from the pros.
Enter Sara and Matt Berry, principals of remodeling and interior design company Berry Built, whom the Petersens connected with through mutual friends. Brian and Jane loved the Berrys’ work, and were especially impressed with their highly logical yet uncommon approach: unhurriedly plan everything before the remodel begins.
Unrushed, detailed planning, the Berrys explain, results in thoughtful choices and long-term satisfaction. There’s no scrambling to make last-minute selections; lots of forethought reduces stress and saves money. “You have all this time to make decisions,” says Brian of the design process. “We weren’t in any hurry.” Rather than hinge a project on a start date, the Berrys work with clients to make design choices first and create the timeline later.
To get to know Jane and Brian’s style, wants, and needs, the Berrys had them go onto website Houzz.com to identify images they liked. They also talked through answers to practical, function-based questions, such as what they liked and disliked about their home, how long they planned to live there, if they host large groups or out of town guests, and what led them to purchase the home in the first place. Based on all of that, aesthetic preferences and functional needs made themselves clear, plans were drawn, and all materials were chosen. The style that emerged is a combination of contemporary, industrial, and “a little bit of Denver,” Sara says.
Construction, from there, went off without a hitch. Thanks to those months of careful planning and sourcing, “They started the day they planned and finished the day they said they would,” says Brian. He and Jane are thrilled with the results.
“We listened to the wish list and tried to make it happen,” says Matt Berry. Recognizing the limitations of the home’s original floor plan both in terms of kitchen size and window placement, the Berrys came up with a plan that was critical to the success of the entire project: flip-flopping the living room and the kitchen, so the living space could take full advantage of the stellar views from the rear of the property, and the kitchen, placed along the less scenic side, could accommodate tons of upper cabinetry without sacrificing light. The swap freed up space for the large island the homeowners wanted, too.
The new kitchen meets their hopes for “a more foodie sort of space we could cook in,” as Jane puts it, with double ovens, an expansive gas range, a custom hood, and a spacious, quartz-topped island. There is ample storage in the fully wipe-able cabinetry. The showstopper of the space is the granite backsplash, which is “bookmatched,” meaning slabs are cut and placed to mirror each other like an open book. The homeowners say the backsplash was a daring choice for them—a risk that’s more than paid off. When designing a space, Sara Berry says choosing elements is “a layering system,” with good design being about seeing the project as a composition. “You’ve got to see it as a whole,” she says. When it came to selecting the kitchen countertops, cabinetry, and hardware, “we needed calm because we’ve got a wild backsplash.”
The other scene-stealer of the remodel is the custom two-sided fireplace, which sits between the living room and the sunken lounge. The Petersens let the Berrys run with their own ideas on this one, creating a see-through fireplace from scratch in a spot no fireplace had existed before, which proved to be a fun challenge. “We love the fireplace,” Jane says. The family uses it every single day in the winter and it puts out enough heat to warm the whole floor. Thanks to the transparency of the glass, it separates spaces without making the home feel choppy, adding organic texture and visual interest with its mix of reclaimed barn wood and patinaed metal.
On the sunken lounge side, the built-in bench makes a perfect spot to cozy up near the fire, and the metal strips are perfectly placed for hanging stockings with magnetic hooks at Christmastime. Seemingly small choices like these have major impact, like the lift-up garage door-style cabinet that conceals glassware in the kitchen, the unobtrusive circular light switches, and the window above the prep sink that extends all the way down to be flush to the countertop.
The home’s laundry room and mud room space was thoughtfully conceived, with a herringbone floor and a tiled dog wash for Crosby, an electronic dog door, and lots of storage. All of the cabinetry has heavy duty rolling drawers to make it that much easier to keep things accessible and organized. “We are all about function,” says Sara. “The easy part is to make it look good, the harder part is to make it function.”
The dining room, visible from the rest of the main floor but set off by itself, is anchored by a large, clean-lined table centered beneath an architectural light fixture from Hubberton Forge. The work of art that hangs here, a wedding gift from a family friend, is by artist Phillip Britz, who’s from South Africa, where Jane was born. Another favorite piece is the steel lake art featuring Lake Coeur d’Alene that hangs in the kitchen, by local artist Dan Barker. Artwork, light fixtures, textiles, and wood finishes lend personality and warmth to the entire space. Pony walls, once a beacon of the ‘80s, have been replaced with dark metal and wire railings, which play off the black of the door casings and light fixtures.
Thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows, the glass of the two-sided fireplace, and the ample can lights in the ceiling (“it’s like Swiss cheese,” jokes Sara) the home is open, friendly, light, and lovely. Planning slowly and taking care to get everything right the first time have paid off. “I can’t say enough about the planning process,” says Matt. “Those that end up with the patience never regret having the patience.”
The Petersens agree. “This is a really awesome, functional space for us,” says Jane.
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