Before & After: A 1980s Farmhouse Gets a Light, Airy Revamp With Touches of Walnut

Add to
Like
Share
By Michele Koh Morollo
The daily rituals and routines of an empty nest couple were the starting point for the redesign of the "House for Grandparents."

The owners of this 1980s farmhouse in San Miguel, California, are an elderly couple with children and grandchildren who visit often—so they decided to reorganize the floor plan to make it better for communal gatherings. New York–based architecture practice Dash Marshall helped the couple achieve their goals by renovating the 4,650-square-foot home with a bright, fresh, and modern interior. 

The architectural language of the renovated house pays homage to the Spanish missions of California, the vernacular metalwork of Central Coast farms, and Alvar Aalto’s use of warm wood—in this case, a mixture of fir, white oak, and walnut that adds richness to reductive forms.

Before: The Living Room

Newsletter
Join the Renovations Mailing List

Get carefully curated content filled with inspiring homes from around the world, innovative new products, and the best in modern design

Dash Marshall’s design approach begins with understanding the human rituals and routines of each home’s residents. So they asked the couple questions such as, "How do you live now? How do you want to live? Where do you have coffee? What do you think about when you have coffee in the morning? Are there important annual dates on the calendar for you and your family?"

Dash Marshall’s design approach begins with understanding the human rituals and routines of each home’s residents. So they asked the couple questions such as, "How do you live now? How do you want to live? Where do you have coffee? What do you think about when you have coffee in the morning? Are there important annual dates on the calendar for you and your family?"

The responses they received helped them remodel the spaces around the daily rhythms of the couple and their visiting family members.

The responses they received helped them remodel the spaces around the daily rhythms of the couple and their visiting family members.

After: The Living Room

Dash Marshall introduced new furniture, lighting, floors, and trim, as well as custom-designed millwork installed by Casagrande Woodworks. The living room features a Vico<span> <a href="/discover/13K782">#13K782</a></span> (Morandi 3) sofa, armchairs by Cassina, and a Milo Baughman-designed, Thayer Coggin bronze finished steel coffee table.

Dash Marshall introduced new furniture, lighting, floors, and trim, as well as custom-designed millwork installed by Casagrande Woodworks. The living room features a Vico #13K782 (Morandi 3) sofa, armchairs by Cassina, and a Milo Baughman-designed, Thayer Coggin bronze finished steel coffee table.


"We started with the rituals. Arriving, cooking, eating, lounging, celebrating, bathing, sleeping. After analyzing each, and discussing with the owners, we designed specific responses," says Bryan Boyer, one of Dash Marshall's founders.

Before: The Dining Room

They gutted the entry, kitchen, living room, dining room, office, kids' playroom, master suite, guest bathroom, and laundry room, and did less drastic alterations to the guest rooms.

They gutted the entry, kitchen, living room, dining room, office, kids' playroom, master suite, guest bathroom, and laundry room, and did less drastic alterations to the guest rooms.

After: The Dining Room

Dash Marshall expanded the kitchen slightly so residents can now see all the way through the house when they’re moving from the guest area to the more public spaces. "This line of sight helps people feel more connected and less disoriented. The larger kitchen also alleviates congestions issues that were a problem before," says Boyer.&nbsp;&nbsp;

Dash Marshall expanded the kitchen slightly so residents can now see all the way through the house when they’re moving from the guest area to the more public spaces. "This line of sight helps people feel more connected and less disoriented. The larger kitchen also alleviates congestions issues that were a problem before," says Boyer.  

"Being invited to gut renovate a family home that has been occupied for 30+ years is no small thing, so we approached the project cautiously to make sure we honored the family’s relationship to this place," says Boyer.

Before: The Kitchen

Before: The cramped kitchen.

Before: The cramped kitchen.

After: The Kitchen

The new kitchen serves as a hub where the entire family can gather and swap cooking tips as they prepare a lavish feast. The kitchen features Arti-startm surface downlights by BK Lighting.

The new kitchen serves as a hub where the entire family can gather and swap cooking tips as they prepare a lavish feast. The kitchen features Arti-startm surface downlights by BK Lighting.

A long counter provides plenty of space to lay out big meals, and the breakfast bar is an ideal spot to relax with a snack while engaging in chit chat with those busy cooking. Ormonde Construction installed the kitchen’s soapstone countertops.

A long counter provides plenty of space to lay out big meals, and the breakfast bar is an ideal spot to relax with a snack while engaging in chit chat with those busy cooking. Ormonde Construction installed the kitchen’s soapstone countertops.

The new kitchen features a "super pantry" concealed behind sleek, black, screen-like sliding doors.

The new kitchen features a "super pantry" concealed behind sleek, black, screen-like sliding doors.

The spacious pantry makes gathering ingredients a convenient, pleasant experience. Dash Marshall designed the custom sliding aluminum door.

The spacious pantry makes gathering ingredients a convenient, pleasant experience. Dash Marshall designed the custom sliding aluminum door.

"We thought remaking the house in walnut would devalue the material, and by extension the memories. Instead we developed a palette of three woods that are used throughout the house: white oak floors, Douglas fir millwork, and walnut that shows up in just a few spots, so when you encounter walnut millwork or detailing, you really notice it," says Boyer.

Before: The Stairs

Before: Stairs leading up to the bedrooms.

Before: Stairs leading up to the bedrooms.

After: The Stairs

Super White Eggshell Benjamin Moore paint give the walls a crisp, fresh feel.

Super White Eggshell Benjamin Moore paint give the walls a crisp, fresh feel.

Dash Marshall custom designed the handrail for the stairs.

Dash Marshall custom designed the handrail for the stairs.

A big part of the home's history is tied to a 120-acre walnut orchard that the family kept for commercial farming until just about the time this project was completed. The couple knew they were going to retire from walnut farming, but they wanted to find a way to integrate walnut into the project.

After: The Entryway

The entryway features a Studioilse Bench 443 in walnut with a leather pad by De La Espada.

The entryway features a Studioilse Bench 443 in walnut with a leather pad by De La Espada.

Instead of using walnut wood as the dominant material, Dash Marshall felt they could honor the memory of walnut farming better by using it sparingly.

Shop the Look
Gubi Adnet Round Mirror
Gubi Adnet Round Mirror
 An icon of midcentury French modernism, Jacques Adnet knew the unique position that he and his fellow modernists occupied in history, poised on the cutting edge of something entirely new.
Wood Architecture Now! Vol. 2
Wood Architecture Now! Vol. 2
As soon as our earliest ancestors first ventured out of their caves, they turned to wood for their protective structures.
Rich Brilliant Willing Gala Pendant
Rich Brilliant Willing Gala Pendant
Ripe for the picking, the Rich Brilliant Willing Gala Round Pendant features a full hand-blown glass diffuser, emulating forms found in nature with warm light.  Housing a sophisticated LED module, the glass globe diffuses light that utilizes remote phosphor technology, producing an even white...

After: The Bedroom

White oak flooring in the bedroom.

White oak flooring in the bedroom.

After: The Guest Bathroom

The guest bathroom is contained within a broad column that looks like a marshmallow.&nbsp;

The guest bathroom is contained within a broad column that looks like a marshmallow. 

Custom cabinetry in Douglas fir, designed by Dash Marshall and manufactured by Casagrande Woodworks.

Custom cabinetry in Douglas fir, designed by Dash Marshall and manufactured by Casagrande Woodworks.

The guest bathroom features a Gala pendant designed by Rich Brilliant Willing.

The guest bathroom features a Gala pendant designed by Rich Brilliant Willing.

After: The Master Bathroom

Because the eponymous grandparents don’t fuss over getting dressed up for a night on the town, a typical vanity with a mirror was not needed for the master bathroom. Dash Marshall designed the solid walnut vanity with built-in sink. It’s sealed with nautical varnish, with a base of bent steel sheetmetal powder coated in Pearlescent White.&nbsp;

Because the eponymous grandparents don’t fuss over getting dressed up for a night on the town, a typical vanity with a mirror was not needed for the master bathroom. Dash Marshall designed the solid walnut vanity with built-in sink. It’s sealed with nautical varnish, with a base of bent steel sheetmetal powder coated in Pearlescent White. 

The architects made the sink the center of the bathroom and then designed everything else to orbit around it. The result is a bathroom that feels remarkably airy for its size. A local craftsman made the custom stamped saddle leather pulls.

The architects made the sink the center of the bathroom and then designed everything else to orbit around it. The result is a bathroom that feels remarkably airy for its size. A local craftsman made the custom stamped saddle leather pulls.

After: The Exterior

After: The exterior of the house.

After: The exterior of the house.

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record and Interior Designer: Dash Marshall / @dashmarshall 

Builder: Ormonde Construction 

Cabinetry: Casagrande Woodworks

Photography: Bruce Damonte Photography / @brucedamonte

Have your own renovation to share? Read our submissions guidelines and tell us your story!