Motivated by the success of his recurring Palm Springs showhouse, the Christopher Kennedy Compound, the eponymous designer was lured to Turlock, California by a homeowner looking to create an exciting interiors experience in a classic American town. “I don’t think style is just reserved for the big cities and coasts,” says Christopher Kennedy, who collaborated with 15 other designers on a 3,200-square- foot midcentury residence that—following its October 2019 show dates—would become a family’s home. “The designers did the best of themselves and they also made it perfect for the homeowner. Our showhouses tend to be very livable, while still being very inspiring.”
The Office is chic in a palette of saturated green combined with walnut tones. Designer Nar Bustamante was inspired by the colors that surround the crop-lined streets of the Central Valley in the peak of spring. He modernized the space with black and brass geometric wallpaper, making it unpretentious, cozy, and inviting. Though the room is a remodeled closet, the designer created definition by wrapping the walnut accent stripe outside of the nook, giving it the feel of an entry to another room.
In our recently released aspire design and home Showhouse Issue, we sat down with Bustamente to learn more about his creative process in designing the office for this project.
aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
Nar Bustamante: We came on board for the design of the office space, adjacent to the family room, in late June 2019. With just about three months to design and orchestrate the space, we worked diligently to gather info about the home, the family, and adjacent designer palettes. A last-minute change in the showhouse open schedule gave everyone a few extra weeks, which was very essential to us finishing all the details in time!
aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a Eureka moment during the process?
Nar: When assigned the office space, we knew we were going to make it a charming and functional nook. Upon visiting the site for the first time, during the “rough” stage of construction, we realized one of the walls enclosing the space was non-bearing and we knew we wanted to see it opened up to better communicate this office nook with the family room lounge area. By moving this wall back to just 26” deep, we had the eureka moment for layout and concept. Floor-to-ceiling storage was designed for the short wall of the space with an asymmetrical floating desk on the long wall. Then all the other design layers fell into place!
aspire: What did you and your team accomplish that you thought would not happen in time?
Nar: Countertops. With lots of spaces throughout the home in need of solid surfaces, we knew it was going to be tight to get the countertops installed. Fortunately, tops went in just in time and our carpenter was able to complete the cabinetry “stack” on top of the countertops as a crowning completion to the space.
aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Nar: The neutral palette of saturated green in combination with walnut tones was inspired by the colors you see driving through the crop-lined streets of the central valley in the peak of spring. Balanced and modernized by a black and brass geometric wallpaper, the space unpretentiously cozy and inviting. Also, we wanted to take away the visual that this room is like a remodeled closet. We achieved this by wrapping the walnut accent stripe outside of the nook and creating a space for an art light to shine onto a painting.
aspire: Did you step out of your comfort zone for this project, and if so, why?
Nar: Yes! This was our first time collaborating on a showhouse outside of our immediate Sacramento area. Christopher Kennedy and the team did an amazing job of guiding us through and making the distance seem like the home was right in our backyard. It was fascinating to see the fast-paced communication and collaboration between designers, contractors, vendors, etc. that went into creating this showhouse. As a design-build firm in Sacramento, our day-to-day is working on projects where we are making our own deadlines and being in control of every variable. It was very liberating to have a shift in responsibilities and a new collaborative experience in the residential construction world.
aspire: Despite the fact that there were so many designers involved, there is an inherent cohesiveness to the home. Did you all converse/collaborate? Or was this a completely individual process?
Nar: By coming on board as a designer for the house a bit later than most of the other designers, we were able to get a peek at the palette that the designer of the family room was proposing. We knew, with the shape of the room and wall connections, that her wallpaper selection needed to flow with our space. The neutral geometric pattern of the wallpaper was easy to coordinate and gave that cozy environment that is wanted in both a family room and office retreat!
aspire: Is your preference for a showhouse a small space or large space? Does one or the other provide a better opportunity to stretch your creativity?
Nar: We loved having a small space! It gave us the opportunity to celebrate every inch and make it all very functional! We design many spaces and find that the restriction of space, whether in a kitchen, bath, or office allows for creativity to flow and awesome to happen!
aspire: Describe the town of Turlock in one sentence.
Nar: Heart of California Americana Farm and Agriculture
This or That?
aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
Nar: Neither- Valley…giving close proximity to beach and mountains.
aspire: Saturated Color or Black and White?
Nar: Both! Black or white with a saturated color is IT!
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
Nar: Brunch…with mimosas
aspire: Midcentury or 18th Century?
Nar: Mid-Century all day!
aspire: Draperies, shades, or nothing?
Nar: Depends on the setting
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
Nar: The English Patient
aspire: Week at the spa or Week of Broadway shows?
Nar: Spa…but just barely!
Photography by Dave Adams.
Click Here to view more interviews with the Christopher Kennedy Showhouse designers.
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