It’s not unusual for a designer to look to a home’s past when tackling a renovation, whether it’s preserving original architectural details or honoring the style of the neighborhood. In this California home, however, the stakes were a bit higher for designer Joyce Downing Pickens. “One of my clients grew up in this home and his childhood room is now his daughter’s room,” she says. “The house hadn’t been touched in years, so a full gut remodel was needed but we wanted to respect the family’s history in the house while opening it up a bit to be more conducive to modern living.”

Pickens began in the kitchen. “It was a big starting point and an important space for the family. We pretty much began the design here and it became the road map for the rest of the home,” she explains. “My client wanted a greige cabinet color and we spent a lot of time nailing down the perfect tone. That simple base opened us up to infuse more elements in the styling such as the bar stools and accessories. Mixing metals was also fun to do in here but always hard to convince a client on. The bronze, brass, and polished nickel really played nicely off of each other and added some unexpected interest since the design was relatively simple.” Initially, the designer admits she was nervous about finding the perfect stone. “They wanted very durable countertops, but I personally detest quartz,” she laughs. “My client actually found this material called Neolith that I was previously not familiar with and it was the perfect meld of our two requirements. It really looks like a real Calacatta with none of the phony looking veining or pixilation I often see in quartz.”

In the living room, the family wanted a large sectional. “We went with a performance cream fabric which provided the look the client wanted as well as the durability,” Pickens shares. “Obviously cream isn’t invincible but since their kids are a bit older, it worked for this family and kept the room feeling light. They also wanted a large TV in here on what was originally a very large blank wall. Because there were so many right angles in this home, I suggested flanking arched bookshelves to break that up and provide TV storage.”

The dining area is a simple but significant space, with minimal lighting and cane back chairs. Pickens explains, “It was important to the client that the chairs were comfortable, and it was important to me that they incorporated some texture into the more simplistic room so these were the best of both worlds!”

In the primary bathroom, Neolith makes another appearance. “We wrapped the entire shower in it which once again gave that marble look but with increased durability,” she says. “The black clawfoot tub is my favorite moment in this bathroom.”

The home is now modern but is infused the warmth and texture of traditional design. Though the project took nearly two years, Pickens says her clients knew it was worth the wait. “They were so happy and especially happy when seeing the final photos,” she concludes.