On a quiet and private road, walking distance from downtown Calistoga, a couple with a toddler found their perfect vacation home to get away from their busy city life in San Francisco. The house – a sprawling 3,166-square-foot ranch-style home – was in great condition but its French Country design wasn’t exactly in sync with the new homeowners’ style. Theirs was much more contemporary, paired back, and most importantly, bright. Their original idea was to find a local interior designer to work with but they soon realized that Whitney Gelinas of Wit Interiors, whom they had previously worked with on two projects, would be a trusted guide throughout the renovation process.
“I understood their aesthetic and who they were as a family,” the designer said. “The home was in beautiful shape, it just didn’t reflect the new homeowners’ aesthetic. The whole house had a very French Country feel with thick moldings, lots of bulky cabinetry, and dark beige walls. Right away we knew the biggest task would be to create a bright, airy welcoming space that would bring the focus out to the beautiful view in the backyard.” The key to achieving this transformation was stripping out some of the heavy features like the built-in cabinets in the living room and the rustic finishes in the bathrooms and kitchen. Whitney chose Benjamin Moore’s Simply White for most of the walls of the house.
Although the design direction was clear from the start, they encountered quite a significant set-back from the get-go. “The Sonoma fires hit right as we were preparing to start construction,” Whitney lamented. “With the sudden spike in demand for laborers in the Sonoma region, it took much longer to finish work than originally projected. The homeowners were very patient and even made sure to let the contractor know that his priority should be getting people back into their primary residences vs. a vacation home. We felt very fortunate that the fires didn’t reach the property.” In spite of their good fortune at not being affected by the fires, Whitney made sure that they gave the home new metal roofing: “It’s the first line of defense against wildfires and felt irresponsible not to make this update.”
That wasn’t the only responsible decision that Meghan made – in the kitchen, she kept the same footprint and repainted the lower cabinets instead of replacing them. Since the home was to be used for vacation purposes, she eliminated the upper cabinets and installed open shelving: “It makes everything accessible to guests so they don’t have to constantly be asking where to find things,” she said. For the flooring throughout the home, she selected a lightly distressed White Oak with a zero VOC finish from Curtis Cole Hardwood Floors that could withstand any markings or scratchings caused by the family and their large dog.
Not all, though, was about practicality, Whitney brought several impactful design moments to the house. Over the console in the living room hangs a large graphic piece by Sofia Shu that she had commissioned. The master bedroom also features a geometric pattern with a painterly wallcovering by Brett Design. Having included such a bold feature meant that she kept the rest of the room clean and simple.
The master bathroom was redesigned to serve as a relaxing retreat for her clients. “It was not functional for a vacation home as the majority of it was taken up with closet space, no tub, and minimal light,” she explained. “We reconfigured it to include a tub, separate shower and created a larger window so that you could see the beautiful oak trees when you were in the bathtub. Because it was a very narrow space we tried to preserve continuity by using the same stone around the tub for the vanity surround.” Sconces by Circa Lighting add a touch of glam to the bathroom.
Throughout the renovation process, Whitney worked with the wife, who was considering interior design herself as a potential professional path. “Her husband knew that she was interested in pursuing a career in interior design and therefore let her take the reins on the project,” she said. “He didn’t actually see the home until it was completed. He was blown away and couldn’t believe what a dramatic change we had made!”