Luckily, Allison Hawley Simmons’ newborn had perfect timing.
Scarlett was born two weeks late, which turned out to be just in time for the finishing touches of the family’s kitchen remodel.
Allison and her husband Mike had been living at their N. Irving Blvd. home while the four-months-plus project was underway; the holidays and the birth were imminent.
“There was some time pressure to finish this job,” said Windsor Square based-architect Mary Pickhardt.
The couple had bought the 1922 Mediterranean-style home the year before, and with their growing family, needed more room.
The galley kitchen was long and narrow, cramped next to a long hallway and a tiny bedroom.
“There was only room for one or two people” in the kitchen, said Allison.
The challenge was to open the space without adding square feet, said Pickhardt, who had several tricks up her sleeve.
The home’s fourth and uninviting bedroom was knocked down and a wall was opened and framed with an arch that ties into the home’s Spanish theme and also reveals the family room and views of the backyard.
“If you can see outside, it makes it feel bigger,” said Pickhardt.
The kitchen’s new white recessed panel cabinets reach the ceiling — drawing the eye up and giving the illusion of more space.
The Caesarstone countertops “are indestructible,” a must with a toddler prone to eating raspberries, says her mom. The backsplash, a blue Moroccan-influenced, handmade clay tile, adds color.
Pickhardt designed a banquette for where the couple’s extensive family and friends can congregate in the kitchen, while the cook has room to move near the Sub-Zero and six-burner stove behind an island.
Interior decorator Bebe Johnson added a custom table next to the banquette, as well as the built-in media cabinets, curtains, a sectional sofa and his and her’s (Scarlett’s) matching elephant-patterned chairs in the family room.
A long “bowling alley” of a hallway was narrowed, which allowed for expanded laundry and broom closets and an office area, where Mike displays some of his penguin collection on an upper shelf.
“This is my favorite feature,” says Allison of a light that goes on when opening the broom closet.
Pickhardt’s ties to the family go back at least 23 years when she designed Allison’s mom’s kitchen on Lorraine Blvd. It still holds up today, says Allison.
“What we try to do is make the kitchen go with the house, so it’s classic and everything ages together. We don’t do trendy stuff,” explains Pickhardt.
When the couple bought the home, many of its original features had been stripped or modernized.
Addition of crown moulding and other touches brought back the home’s former glory, while large-pane windows add light and tie the old with the new.
The contractor, Doug Dalton, who grew up in Fremont Place, was the “unsung hero” of the project, said Pickhardt.
An arched entry way — matching the one in the family room — softens that space. Painted a warm shade of coral, the entryway’s chandelier matches one in the hallway. A larger chandelier that hangs in the dining room was from an old French hotel and among purchases from La Brea antique stores.
“We’re pretty traditional and wanted to stay true to the home’s style,” says Allison.