After nearly twenty years, this lovely California Ranch-style home was due for an update. The homeowners, new empty nesters, didn’t want to move—the house is in Los Altos Hills, a lush, tree-filled community on the slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountain Range. So, they reached out to interior designer Melinda Mandell to help their home function at its best for its new chapter. 

“The spacious kitchen was a key appeal in purchasing the home twenty years ago, when life included young children, and big gatherings,” Melinda tells us. “Our clients love to host! It was their main hub, a space for cooking family dinners and hosting large celebrations. Naturally, their kitchen had begun to show signs of wear and tear, signaling that it was time to renovate with the next decades, and even bigger parties in mind. Knowing that a kitchen remodel was in itself a big undertaking, they took the time to consider other elements of the home to improve upon simultaneously, including the laundry, bathrooms, flooring, exterior of the home, and landscaping.”

The original layout felt like one room bled to the next, with kitchen storage in the hallway, and laundry cabinets outside of the laundry room. “By pushing out the front of the house, we created one large rectangular room for the kitchen and breakfast spaces, which really benefits the possibilities for parties, and just feels right,” Melinda explains. “With our avid cook client, we also thought through the placement of every dish, spice, and tool, ensuring everything had the right spot to ensure functionality. Large pantries take care of significant storage needs, while giving symmetry, and keeping the look clean—appliances are out of sight.” 

The clients love honest, natural materials and told Melinda they wanted a “warm contemporary” look. “They prioritized beautiful natural wood grain and stunning natural stone,” Melinda explains. “We opted for finishes that celebrated their inherent beauty.” For example, in the kitchen, they chose a quartzite countertop and backsplash for its durability and stunning blue-green colors and movement. This stone pairs well with the sleek, dark stained rift-cut oak modern cabinets. For tiled areas, they selected glass tile with veining and variation and ceramic tile with naturally imperfect texture.

“I’m an advocate that you should never force a home to be something it’s not,” Melinda says. “As times and trends change, it can be tempting to force your home to conform. Unfortunately, when we do this, it gives a house a sense that you’re trying too hard.”

The overall scheme works beautifully with the simple architecture of this California Ranch, as well as the idyllic natural setting. By blending their client’s preference for a warm and contemporary style in a way that complemented the qualities of the house, they created something that felt effortlessly inviting.

See more in the slideshow.