OXBSTUDIO removes unsightly plumbing opening up new vistas

Answering the call to nature, sometimes you just have to go… but this time, it was the bathroom that needed eliminating. Taking up a place of prominence in this 1920s-era house in Piedmont, the bathroom was situated in the corner of the family room, just steps away from the kitchen, adjacent to the fireplace and blocking up the entire corner view of the lovely garden just waiting to be enjoyed….


Well, of course the homeowners realized it needed to be removed and relocated. They knew it when they bought the house several years ago. But, no surprise, there’s a proper time (and place) to do your business. And that time came recently, when these owners took the plunge…or plunger, if you prefer.

Amazingly, there was even the normal space for a powder room ready and waiting. With a little bit of reconfiguring, it now fits under the stairs off the foyer where it belongs.

In the family room corner (with the bathroom out of the way), arched casement windows were installed, with the breakfast table and banquette nestled beneath them. The old breakfast area (a sort of porch off the kitchen, with doorways to the garage, dining room and deck) is now free of furniture and can be used for what it was meant for – a true place that flows properly for circulation. And because the far wall that space shared with the living room has been opened up, it’s now a sensible connecting room (that even houses an unobtrusive appliance garage / breakfront), and, as such, opens up a magnitude of entertaining and utilitarian options. Now, guests and family in the living room can easily amble over to keep the cook company in the kitchen. Also, it offers added kitchen storage and a bar. It’s also handy for a dining room service area, not to mention a terrific spot to temporarily stack mail or drop the keys.

And speaking about the kitchen, once the owners committed to undertake the bathroom repositioning, they decided to give the kitchen a new look, too.

To put it succinctly, here’s how OXBSTUDIO founder and architect Ted Bonneau summed up his clients’ situation: “They wanted the bathroom out of there, a new island for the kitchen and windows to the yard.

“Clearly, the kitchen, family room and breakfast area was the part of the house they spent all their time in, so making it work and pleasanter was important.”

The couple wanted an Italianate look, so the brick fireplace facade was covered over with Venetian plaster in gray and the floor was refinished with a dark stain.

In the kitchen, attractive well-made prefab  cabinetry was chosen in keeping with the budget. “My client has an eclectic style, so some of the cabinets are stained and some are painted. The cherry island has turned legs and an antiqued crema marfil textured marble top — as does the appliance garage / wine cabinet –made to look like furniture.”

Countertops in the kitchen’s perimeter are Pietra Cardosa (a gray slate from Italy) and the backsplash is glass tile.

A new hood was customized so that it could be mounted higher, out of the line of vision, Bonneau said. “Volumetrically it relieved the space, opening up the area and creating volume in the kitchen and island zone.”

In the process, a supporting beam was integrated as an architectural feature. “I think it has a cool effect,” Bonneau said. “It frames the kitchen and nicely plays off the stainless-steel hood. We boxed the beam and extended it past the post, creating a cantilever for balance.”

These owners are  savvy. Producers of TV design shows, they love their new space. Downstairs, the house is just the way they’ve always envisioned it and then some….

Next, they will tackle upstairs projects, but for the moment, they are contented and digesting.

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