Simple and smart remodel

See how to do more with less by emphasizing open spaces, organic materials, and the beauty of restraint

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  • Narrow cantilevered trough sink in the master bathroom.

    Trough sink

    Thomas J. Story

    Click to Enlarge


Mari Tischenko, who studies a Japanese flower-arranging technique called ikebana, says of her house, "The focus is on the space itself, not on filling up the space."

Here are four of her tips on achieving a similarly tranquil effect in your home.

Omit the unnecessary
Since the couple never used their living room fireplace, Lara Dutto replaced it with a stereo and TV, which can be obscured by a sliding glass panel.

Let the materials shine
Natural, tactile elements take center stage. This narrow cantilevered trough sink in the master bathroom was cast off-site and embedded with shells and rock.

Repeat and contrast
The soothing repetition of horizontal lines links indoors and out, as does the streamlike ribbon of river rock leading into the entry. The front door and sliding glass panel create opposing forms for visual interest.

Provide moments of serenity
Simple displays like a calming water feature in the entry give your eyes a place to rest.

Design: Lara Dutto, D-Cubed, Emeryville, CA (510/557-1484).


Living room

Good Times white leather sofa and ottoman by Walter Knoll from The Magazine (510/549-2282).

Womb Chair ($2,465-$5,898) by Eero Saarinen from Design Within Reach (800/944-2233).

Spray silk-and-wool area rug in sea blue and gold from Emma Gardner Design (877/377-3144).

Timid White paint (item OC-39) from Benjamin Moore (800/672-4686).

Main entry

Inlaid pebble path made of polished Mexican beach pebbles from Mt. Diablo Landscape Centers (925/687-2930) and installed by homeowners.


Stainless steel Lem Piston stools ($688) from Design Within Reach (800/944-2233).

Firefrost pendant lights from Tech Lighting.

Master bedroom

Bedspread fabric is Paradiso Spring oyster linen by De Sousa Hughes (to the trade only; or 415/626-6883).

Shoji built by Glen Collins from Hana Shoji & Interiors (510/842-1041).

Jackson two-sided chaise in black bison leather ($2,599) from Room & Board (800/486-6554).


Glass tile in Paris Blue by Villi USA from ETM, European Tile & Marble Co. (925/962-0290).

Trough sink made of Geocrete (a lightweight concrete blend) designed by Lara Dutto of D-Cubed (510/557-1484) and fabricated by Cheng Design (510/849-3272).

Chrome wall-mount 912 faucet from Vola.


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