Though we’ve been wrapping up several projects recently, today’s story is one that is long overdue – a 1920s Tudor transformation in the Oakland Hills. Yes, we completed it around the end of the summer last year, but this home is anything but old news. Lively colors and natural materials pair with traditional architecture in a way that is both fresh and timeless.
But the true genius behind this space (if I do say so) lies in its space planning.
I was working on another project a few weeks ago when I had a flashback to this one. As an older home, the rooms were fairly compartmentalized, the kitchen was a U-shape, and the bathrooms were both small and narrow. Some homes naturally allow for a few different space plan options. For this Tudor, we had to be extra strategic. But before I get ahead of myself, let's meet the family...
Meet the Family
Our clients were a young family who moved from Brooklyn a few years ago, purchasing this dated but exquisitely maintained house in the Oakland Hills. After living with the space for some time, they knew they were ready for some updates. They hired our firm to help reimagine the spaces and breathe some lightness and laughter into the walls. First up, the kitchen.
1920s Kitchen: New Floor Plan & Renovation
The kitchen wasn’t in bad shape, but we knew it needed to be reconfigured to give our clients the functionality they wanted. We decided to remove a small corner of the left wall to create a larger kitchen and add an island with seating. Here’s how the floor plan started...
And how we reconfigured it...
We actually swapped the dining room and family room in a way, which made more sense and flowed better with the new open kitchen. As with all our projects, we created a 3D rendering first to show our clients what the future space would look like.
First, how cool is this rendering? The technology is so lifelike these days, I just love it. You can easily see how opening up the wall would let us extend the kitchen by another couple feet so that there would be ample room for all the desired amenities. We also proposed installing open shelving in both corners to help the space feel lighter and more open.
And here’s the finished result...
Ahhh... so breathable. Compare the two photos above and you’ll see that they are not far off. We swapped out the windows for these bigger, brighter ones, used glass pendants to keep the ceiling space open but playful. Custom pastel green inset cabinetry balances the warm tones of these leather bar stools.
This space is SO much brighter than it was before. Night and day, right? Part of successful space planning includes understanding how colors and natural light will reflect off surfaces. With the sunlight reflecting off these light-colored cabinets and reflecting off the countertops, this space has far more light than it did before and a lot more room in which to enjoy it.
Okay, I can’t move on to the next room in this home without giving a well-deserved nod to this gorgeous and custom backsplash tile from Fillmore Clark. The pattern is lighthearted and fun yet not in your face. It feels mature and joyful, especially with this drop-dead stunning soapstone countertop. (So good.) We even extended it to the exterior kitchen and dining area to enjoy indoor-outdoor living.
Fresh & Traditional Tudors Dining Room
You may remember this dining room from this story on how we design with an inspiration piece. Space planning wasn’t a big requirement in this space, but it’s worth sharing anyway. Like the rest of the home, our approach was to respect the classic elements of the Tudor — gorgeous woodwork and detailed built-ins — while modernizing it with subtle and vibrant statements throughout.
We selected these handsome wood Cherner chairs bring attention to the other rich wood elements in the room, and this light green, squid-patterned wallpaper from Grow House Grow (our inspiration piece for the space) and ivory drapes keep the space joyful and bright.
A beautiful library tops off the design and is a perfect companion to the traditional architecture and an expression of the book-loving family who enjoys this space. Novel, anyone?
Optimizing Space in the Master Bathroom
Okay, THIS is one of the spaces that required some spatial masterminding. It started like this:
Narrow, dark, definitely dated. Our plan was to maximize the space, using a combination of space planning and reflecting natural light as much as possible. With a spa as our inspiration, our first 3d renderings looked like this...
Geometric tiles to add depth. Lots of white for brightness. A reflective mirror and modern sconces that mimic the lines of the tiles. Plus some saturated color for a deep, relaxing feel. However, these renderings are proof that sometimes the original plan doesn’t become the final result. Design is about iterating and finding the best possible solution for the space and for our clients’ lifestyle.
In the end, our clients told us they would love a tub and a walk-in shower… so we regrouped and came up with this final solution:
The walls in the main bathroom were pushed out to make it large enough for the entire family to use and then the floors and walls were clad in Dandelion Tile from Marrakech, imported from Switzerland.
We rotated the tub and placed it against the far wall. This gave us room to add a built-in bath niche, a shower, and this teak shelving unit for storage. The natural wood of the shelves adds warmth and supports the spa vibe of the space, but it was also important for storage, since we nixed the floor-to-ceiling cabinets.
Now, our clients have a beautiful walk in shower with mosaic tiles (great for creating visual depth), penny tiles on the floor, a shower niche, and this perfectly triangle-shaped teak stool. Yes, we had to move some plumbing around to accommodate the new placement of the shower and tub, but our clients agree that it was worth it!
Don’t worry — you know we got some color in there! The color green is often associated with rejuvenation and healing. We picked this shade of emerald to balance the bright whites and teak. The result is refreshing, grounding, and (you guessed it) joyful.
Creative Bedroom for a Little Lady
We also updated the bedroom for the littlest lady of this house, the couple’s eight-year-old daughter.
It’s a little hard to see in this photo, but the room already felt lighthearted, fun, and had great character. It just needed a few cosmetic updates to feel more open and cohesive with the rest of the home.
We swapped out the long drapes for these pretty Roman shades and painted the walls white, which helps the room feel taller. We also added sconces that feel more modern and better match the design in the rest of the home. The final touch: this subtle yet pretty white flower mirror.
Freshening Up the Powder Room
And last but not least, the powder room…
Unlike the master bathroom, our clients’ powder room didn’t need reconfiguration. It also had some classic Tudor character with the wainscoting and trim. All we needed to do was respect its origins while bringing it into this century.
Well, that’s better, isn’t it?? Eggshell white paint, breezy and cool wallpaper, and a stunning vanity with warm brass details transforms this space. It also contains a nod to the homeowners’ origins with wallpaper from Flavor Paper featuring Brooklyn toile that includes famous bridges and legends like Notorious B.I.G. Here’s a closer look...
And that’s a wrap for this project! I hope you enjoyed touring this updated Tudor with me as much as we did designing it. We created a playfully colorful interior, with bold patterns and soft colors, and did so while reflecting the beauty of the home and, above all, our clients’ winning personalities. I couldn’t be more thrilled that our clients get to enjoy these happy spaces for many years to come — it is truly why we do what we do.
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