Colors combine to play a fine melody in this contemporary Craftsman-style home

Written by Leslie Gregory Haukoos
Photography by Michael Coons

Harmony

When a home’s design works, it is something like a fine piece of music with various elements playing different harmonies that combine in a richly moving and cohesive piece. There may be a single theme running throughout the home, but it is supported by slight variations in each room and interrupted by surprising notes that call attention to specific niches or corners with personal treasures on display.

 The custom kitchen cabinets in this Newbury Park home are English walnut with seeded glass fronts. The counter is quartzite with deep variegated hues and a linear pattern reflecting the homeowner’s modern but homey taste, the designer says.   The appliances are from Dacor. “That range is one of my favorite purchases,”  says the homeowner. “It cooks fantastically.”  The floor is a porcelain tile from Spain, finished to look metallic, “like it’s oxidized,” he says.   The fabric valance over the sink brings  in color and texture. “When you have a very clean look you want to introduce texture for interest,” the designer says. This home’s interior, designed for a Newbury Park couple by Monica A. Nordquist of Nordquist Design, plays like a lovely concerto—compelling, cohesive and ultimately very comfortable—which is, after all, the point of a home.
The house, not large by any means, has at its core a Craftsman theme. Colors are rich, earthy and deep, the palette inspired by two vintage movie posters in the couple’s personal art collection. The finished home beautifully harmonizes the traditional Craftsman style with a modern twist.
“They like the warmth but with a little bit of modern,” Monica says of her clients. “They wanted the house to be inviting, comfortable, cozy and warm, but still clean and sophisticated.”
Monica, a self-proclaimed “color savant” (“I can bring things home from Europe and they match items at home perfectly”), says she likes to work in strong, saturated tones.

 Custom isn’t necessarily more expensive,” Monica says. “In some cases it can cost less. Also, these clients liked the uniqueness of custom.    The hardwood floor is original to the house, requiring just a “good cleaning”  to look like new.   The twin red leather sofas and oversized ottomon were custom-made to fit the relatively small room.   Hanging behind the sofa is a painting by American artist Wes Hempel.   The Italian game table was from the client’s former apartment, a find he discovered buried under a pile of other pieces in the back room of an antique shop years ago. He had the chairs made  to go with it.    Artist Breon Duningan created the upholstered antelope head hanging above the game table. Its antlers are vintage chair legs.  An old Gene Autry movie poster was one of two posters that inspired the colors for the whole house.

 

  Artist Breon Duningan created the upholstered antelope head hanging above the game table. Its antlers are vintage chair legs.  An old Gene Autry movie poster was one of two posters that inspired the colors for the whole house.“It works when all the colors have the same intensity. . . . I usually have to dial back colors for my clients. But in this home I got to push it. They wanted the intensity.”
The designer says she knows how to read her clients.
“I have the ability to interpret people into an environment,” Monica says.

Rust-colored glass tiles run horizontally, in contrast to the vertical stone tiles on the backsplash. They are framed by narrow ceramic tiles wrapped in copper.

Rust-colored glass tiles run horizontally, in contrast to the vertical stone tiles on the backsplash. They are framed by narrow ceramic tiles wrapped in copper.

The end result is a home that reflects the personalities of those who live there. In this case, one of the clients, a graphic designer, was involved with every design decision.
“Our ideas were very compatible,” Monica says.
Because the rooms are relatively small, making it difficult to find pieces to fit each space, much of the furniture had to be custom-made. “Custom isn’t necessarily more expensive,” Monica says. “In some cases it can cost less. Also, these clients just liked the uniqueness of custom.”

The powder room is painted a bold hue and has a masculine air with the combined voices of the granite sink, hammered copper mirror and dark marble counter top.

The powder room is painted a bold hue and has a masculine air with the combined voices of the granite sink, hammered copper mirror and dark marble counter top.

One of the homeowners loves using walnut in all of its variant shades. Every time he is drawn to a piece of furniture, a cabinet finish, even a light fixture, it turns out to be walnut. That preference translated into another theme that runs through the home.
The front door, the stair rail, the kitchen cabinets, the dining light fixture and many of the pieces of free-standing furniture are walnut. Some are black walnut, a lovely wood that looks almost purple before it is finished; others are the lighter, golden-hued English walnut. In some renditions the walnut is stained, like on the dark  dining table; in others it is natural with a clear finish, as in the upstairs bookshelves.

The upstairs media room is painted a red oxide. Boldly striped silk draperies pick up on the mission-style cabinet that holds personal treasures. A friend handcrafted the metal frame on a poster from “Mini Takes the States.”

The upstairs media room is painted a red oxide. Boldly striped silk draperies pick up on the mission-style cabinet that holds personal treasures. A friend handcrafted the metal frame on a poster from “Mini Takes the States.”

Pieces handcrafted by friends and favorite artists hold special meaning and are showcased throughout the home.

Finally, personal treasures accent each room. The client’s collection of coffeemakers was inspired by his grandmother’s family, who had a cafe in Naples, Italy. The mantel clock was his mother’s.

The master bedroom is serene and tranquil, with subtle tones playing a slightly different variation on the home’s color theme.  Draperies are Duponi silk from Kravat.  The dresser was custom-built.

The master bedroom is serene and tranquil, with subtle tones playing a slightly different variation on the home’s color theme.
Draperies are Duponi silk from Kravat.
The dresser was custom-built.

“It was my job to wind the clock when I was a boy,” he says.
After the clock face was damaged during a botched repair, he designed a new one in etched brass depicting an image of flowers and vines based on a stained-glass window in his mother’s home. The clock is a very personal treasure.
Showcased throughout, pieces handcrafted by friends and favorite artists hold special meaning and memories. The exquisite ceramic salt and pepper shakers made by an artist friend; the upholstered antelope bust, custom-made by an artist in the clients’ favorite vacation spot on the East Coast; and the metal frame, made by a neighbor, to showcase a prized “Mini Takes the States” poster are just a handful of the personal treasures that make this inviting design concerto into a home.

For color choices, Monica recommends living with a wall color before committing to it.   She likes to use paint cards that are at least 8 inches square. Monica tapes them to the wall and observes how the color looks at different times of the day as the light changes.   “I learned this the hard way,” she says.   Early in her design career she painted a wall with a cathedral ceiling in a light shade of pink. “At a certain time each day that wall looked like Pepto Bismal.”   Lesson learned.   Monica says she usually has to  “dial back” colors, but in this home she got to push it for her clients who wanted the intensity. She used the Affinity color collection which Benjamin Moore describes as a “sophisticated palette.”

Written by Leslie Gregory Haukoos
Photography by Michael Coons