French at Heart
November, 2010 - Issue #73
Since studying French in high school, I have been enamored with all things French: cuisine, language and definitely French architecture and interior design. When it came time to decorate our Valencia home, naturally I turned to France for my inspiration.

There is nothing more French than to dress a home with collected treasures, cozy fabrics and a warm color palette to express personal history and passions. The French freely mix antiques with modern pieces and treasured family heirlooms to create rooms that are warm and inviting. The highest compliment I am paid by guests to my home is, "I feel so comfortable here." The sentiment entirely captures my goal in designing our home.

In the summer of 2009, my husband Alec and I debated between moving into another SCV house or updating our 11-year-old home. Quite honestly, this Valencia track home that we purchased in 1998 was lovely, but lacked the softness and French spirit that I so desired.

With my resources and passion for interior design, renovation won hands down.

To start this journey, I created a "dream book" containing pulled photos from design magazines of staircases, kitchens, moulding and wall colors that inspired me.

The "dream book" was an effective tool to communicate my goals with the carpenters and painters who would execute my design.

Because we entertain frequently, and Alec and I both love to cook, the kitchen was the first space that was renovated. By updating our existing cabinetry and purchasing new appliances, I saved a bundle on the kitchen update. I have designed lovely new kitchens for clients costing three times as much, but having the extra money to put into other areas of my renovation project just made plain sense.

Next on my list was the entryway. The stairs are the first design element you experience when entering our home. The new staircase, featuring oak treads and handrail, plus white risers - combined with black wrought iron posts - lends a decidedly French feel to our home. C'est magnifique!

On to the family room, where adding beams not only made the room feel larger, but also provided that much-needed sense of age and history. The beams have the added benefit of defining the family room, which naturally flows into the kitchen.
Six months after all the renovations, we have no regrets. Our home now possesses all the design elements I would incorporate into a custom home, for a fraction of the cost of building new.

Maybe one day Alec and I will build our custom dream home, but for now, our family enjoys living in our little French villa in Santa Clarita.
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