How a Designer Made Her L.A. Fixer-Upper Family-Friendly (and Eventually Resale Ready)
The kitchen shows no signs of a hasty flip.
Updated Feb 14, 2022 11:37 AM
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You either adore or despise a ranch-style house, and designer Marie Burgos falls firmly into the former category. “I love the fact that everything is very elongated and you have a public side of the home with the kitchen and dining room and bedrooms on the other end,” says Burgos. When she and her husband traveled from New York (their primary place of residence) to tour this one in Los Angeles back in 2018, they were also drawn to the fact that the fixer-upper was a 11,000-square-foot, corner-lot property and had a 20-by-40-foot pool out back. “It was a chance for our kids to experience the California dream,” she says.
Resale value was definitely on the designer’s mind throughout the renovation (the couple recently sold the house), so investing in curb appeal was a big part of the journey from the get-go. She expanded the front porch with stone and wood steps, gave the front door a fresh paint color, and took out the fussy tree that was inconveniently positioned directly in front of a window. Inside, she set out to refurbish and “clean up” as much as possible without making a ton of structural changes to help stay on budget—adding central air-conditioning, though, was a must. Here, she reveals some of the main takeaways from the makeover.
Find a Happy Medium Between Closed and Open Concept
Removing the wall that separates the kitchen from the living area was not an option for a few reasons. The barrier was structural, so the designer would have had to splurge on a new metal ceiling beam if she wanted to take down the whole thing. Plus the job would have meant finding a seamless way to blend the wood floors in the living room with the porcelain tile in the cooking zone. To avoid a major headache, Burgos doubled the size of the entrance to the kitchen and created a cutout in the structural wall to take advantage of the lush backyard views. “When you come in now, it feels nice, bright, and big, even though it’s still a galley kitchen,” she shares.
Lean Into Contrast
An all-white kitchen has the tendency to scream “house flipper.” One with moody black upper cabinets, not so much. Burgos chose door fronts that are made out of smoked glass so you can still catch a glimpse of the pretty dishes and glassware on the other side. “It has a vintage charm that speaks to the era of the house,” she explains. The walnut veneer countertops in a herringbone pattern only add to its character.
Make Your Old Wood Floors Work
Burgos got lucky when they lifted up the greenish brown wall-to-wall carpeting in the living room and discovered the original hardwood flooring underneath (circa 1958). Instead of replacing the material with a more modern option like wide-plank oak, she simply buffed it so it matched the tones of the planks in the bedrooms and dining room, where she also shined up the original window shutters.
Tell a Personal Story
The powder room revamp was a personal project for Burgos’s husband (they didn’t call in a contractor for the makeover). “We are both from Martinique originally, so when we saw this palm leaf wallpaper at the Beverly Hills Hotel, we just loved it. It’s a little wink to our island,” she says. To free up some visual space, they took out the unnecessary vanity and went with a sleek, suspended sink.
Leave It at Family-Friendly
When Burgos and her husband decided to sell the home, the designer wanted to make it clear to potential buyers that it was ideal for families. Outside there is a brand-new redwood fence and—given that smart home features are all the rage—a Ring camera security system. Keeping the wall colors and furnishings simple (Odin + Friday did the staging; Shakira del Fresno was their real-estate agent) is another design decision that puts potential buyers at ease, she notes: “People can really imagine themselves there.”