Previously dark and cluttered, this 40-year-old California rambler is finally cast in its best light.
When Joan and Frank Maxwell decided to update their 1970s rambler in Orinda, they weren’t thinking beyond the kitchen. Known for her elaborate dinner parties, Joan was tired of cooking in such a dark, cramped space. “I spent so much time in there alone,” she remembers. “No one else could fit.”
Architect Lara Dutto had a solution beyond new cabinets and appliances. The second floor—where all the main living areas are located—“was broken up into a bunch of small rooms under this fantastic vaulted wood ceiling,” Dutto explains. “The spaces needed to flow under that big, beautiful lid.” To stretch the light from the living room all the way into the kitchen, Dutto removed the dining room walls, expanded the kitchen entry, and created what Joan calls the “wow wall”: frosted resin panels hanging between the two spaces. “Light filters through, but the wall’s opaque enough to hide my dirty dishes,” Joan says.
Now the couple have the roomy kitchen and endless sunlight they longed for. “We hated so many things about this house for 33 years!” says Joan. “If we’d known how transformative it would be, we’d definitely have done it sooner.”
Design: Lara Dutto;