By Laura Samuel Meyn
Photos by Jason Jones Photography
The heat is on, but inside Kathy Rivas’ home, it’s a cool oasis. A soothing mix of colors, open-concept floor plan and furniture designed for lounging complete the makeover.
When Kathy Rivas asked interior designer Christine Gee of G-Interiors to renovate her Timarron house, built in 2002, the homeowner already knew that she wanted to address the small, closed-in kitchen; a little-used formal dining room; and the den, with its dark wood plantation shutters. “We stood in the kitchen, and I spread out my arms and said I wanted to get rid of the arches and everything, and make it all one big room — light, bright, minimalistic and more feminine.”
What she didn’t know was how to make that happen — Rivas says she doesn’t have the eye or inclination for design — so she put her trust completely in Gee. The project result is a calming palette of whites, blues and grays for the widowed homeowner and empty nester, who was ready to make a fresh start for herself and her miniature schnauzer, Bailey. Rivas considered looking for a smaller, updated property, but the pull of the family home where she and her husband raised their three children was strong; in addition to the good memories, the house has an idyllic golf-course location.
The new floor plan stays within the footprint of the original structure but reassigns the spaces for modern living. The first step was to open up some interior walls. With the guidance of a structural engineer, two steel beams were added to the kitchen to hold up the second floor. The designer had the beams clad in wood, echoing the wood-look beams that Rivas’ husband had installed in the family room and which she wanted to keep. “We made the functionality decorative,” says Gee. “Painters came in and restained the beams in the family room so they looked like they were put in at the same time.”
Removing some interior walls allowed the designer to borrow from the old dining room space to expand the kitchen. A focal point is the marble mosaic tile with blue dot accents above the cooktop. “That was the first element she fell in love with,” says Gee. “We used blue throughout the house.” She designed a metal-wrapped wood vent hood for a warm, custom look. White quartz countertops are a hard-wearing accompaniment to white custom cabinetry; in one corner is a beverage station with a built-in ice maker, while an adjacent butler’s pantry holds a wine fridge.
At the kitchen’s heart is a 10-by-5-foot island, stained to complement the beams and illuminated by three metal-and-glass pendants. Gray leather barstools with nail-head trim and low backs allow unobstructed views of the artwork behind them. Rivas found the photographic triptych of birch trees hanging in a Vail gallery while on vacation with her daughters and texted a snapshot to Gee to ensure it would work in the space. She bought the work for both its beauty and its personal meaning, as Colorado has long been a favorite destination for the family.
For the open space between the new kitchen and an octagonal family room, Gee commissioned a pine dining room table from Keller’s L.D. Jordan Furniture and Home, finished in the company’s custom Salvaged Gray stain and sealed with flat polyurethane. Six upholstered gray dining chairs give everyone a place at the table.
Where the breakfast nook had been, Gee created a small seating area with two swivel chairs upholstered in a bold graphic pattern on the sides and back. The chairs can face into the room or pivot toward views of the pool and the golf course beyond. While Rivas initially thought more seating might be unnecessary, the nook has turned out to be one of her favorite details. “On move-in day, I sat down there and got tears in my eyes,” she says. “For me it’s a peaceful place where I sit many mornings with my tea and look outside.”
In line with the airier, more casual feel of the redesign, Gee helped Rivas to trade out heavy traditional furniture for comfortable, streamlined seating in the family room. A sectional upholstered in a cream Crypton-blend fabric fits the octagonal room perfectly and is ample for family and friends. Rivas also wanted a recliner, but not one that looked like a recliner. The request was realized in a cream-colored clean-lined chair with a row of button tufting. It is paired with baskets filled with throw blankets that encourage cozy lounging and reading.
Where a large TV niche had been built into one wall to accommodate the technology of 20 years ago, Gee bumped out the top section for mounting a large flat-screen. She then used the niche space left below for custom cabinetry that’s 2 feet deep but flush with the walls on either side.
The serene results delighted both women, who found one another so easy to work with that they’re already talking about a future upstairs project.
“I love that it’s calming and it’s a gathering place; it’s exactly what I imagined,” says Rivas. “Everyone is together in the same space when the kids are here; it’s happy and bright.”