A Bland Ranch House Transformed Into a Southwestern-Inspired Paradise

·5 min read

When designer Kirsten Blazek was looking for a home to settle down in, she decided on a ranch home in Pasadena, California. And while charming, the home—originally built in the 1950s in a midcentury-modern style—remained without updates ever since. It definitely needed a serious gut renovation.

BEFORE: “Time was definitely my biggest challenge with this renovation, as we completed all the work from start to finish in four and a half months,” explains Kirsten. “I was constantly playing catch-up with the contractors’ needs and working within the constraints of shipping times when it came to selecting finishes.”
BEFORE: “Time was definitely my biggest challenge with this renovation, as we completed all the work from start to finish in four and a half months,” explains Kirsten. “I was constantly playing catch-up with the contractors’ needs and working within the constraints of shipping times when it came to selecting finishes.”
Photo: Courtesy of Kirsten Blazek
AFTER: The flooring in the entire home was so important. “We refinished and bleached the original red oak flooring and also installed all new flooring in the family room, dining, and kitchen area in a lovely herringbone pattern,” adds Kirsten. The tile surrounding the fireplace is from Fireclay Tile.
AFTER: The flooring in the entire home was so important. “We refinished and bleached the original red oak flooring and also installed all new flooring in the family room, dining, and kitchen area in a lovely herringbone pattern,” adds Kirsten. The tile surrounding the fireplace is from Fireclay Tile.

Kirsten set out to create an entirely new space inspired by her travels to some of her favorite places in the world: Ojai, California, and the American Southwest. “Regarding Ojai, for those who haven’t been, it is not only a very beautiful place but it also feels very spiritual and is on land that feels ancient and sacred,” she explains. “I also love the old California architecture and the working ranch feeling that a lot of the original buildings have there.”

AFTER: The designer took southwestern style to heart. “I am very attracted to the thought, love, and ancient wisdom that went into everything that was made by the Indigenous people of America. Their respect and traditions flow into the textiles and objects that they made, and I also love the geometry of the lines and color combinations that feel like they are at one with the surrounding colors in the environment,” Kirsten says.
AFTER: The designer took southwestern style to heart. “I am very attracted to the thought, love, and ancient wisdom that went into everything that was made by the Indigenous people of America. Their respect and traditions flow into the textiles and objects that they made, and I also love the geometry of the lines and color combinations that feel like they are at one with the surrounding colors in the environment,” Kirsten says.
AFTER: Dramatic wallpaper can be seen throughout the home to add flair. This moody choice is from House of Hackney.
AFTER: Dramatic wallpaper can be seen throughout the home to add flair. This moody choice is from House of Hackney.
AFTER: The large-scale cactus and blossom wallpaper is from Burke Decor.
AFTER: The large-scale cactus and blossom wallpaper is from Burke Decor.
AFTER: The textures and colors of the kitchen take inspiration from one of Kirsten’s favorite places, the American Southwest.
AFTER: The textures and colors of the kitchen take inspiration from one of Kirsten’s favorite places, the American Southwest.

The result of Kirsten’s transformation? Mixed woods, unexpected patterns, eclectic vintage pieces, and plenty of natural materials scattered throughout the home, plus art from artists including Mark Maggiori, Stephanie Vovas, William Gollings, and Gabriel Rivera.

The first step in the process was to completely change up the home’s floor plan. Kirsten turned the formal dining room into a bedroom, opened up the family room for more space, and took a similar approach to the bathroom in the main bedroom. The bathrooms and kitchen were fully gutted, and the designer also added a tiled front porch, full landscaping, all new lighting, wallpaper, new HVAC, electrical, and plumbing, and even transformed the finished basement into a recording studio.

AFTER: The star of the home is the newly added vaulted ceilings.
AFTER: The star of the home is the newly added vaulted ceilings.
AFTER: The bathroom takes a more minimalist approach.
AFTER: The bathroom takes a more minimalist approach.

Next up was adding vaulted ceilings in the same family room for a bit of a dramatic scene. “My favorite thing we did in our renovation was raising the ceiling in the family room. Giving it the vault and the extra height opened up the whole space and made it feel so much more expansive,” Kirsten adds.

BEFORE: The traditional California ranch home before its modern updates.
BEFORE: The traditional California ranch home before its modern updates.
Photo: Courtesy of Kirsten Blazek

All in all, the entire renovation took less than five months, and was one of the most deeply personal projects Kirsten had ever worked on—for obvious reasons. “I think it is definitely a different process when designing your own home, but it is just as easy to get stuck in your head with ideas as a designer versus a homeowner,” she says. “As a designer, I tend to listen to what my gut is telling me the house wants to be and I try to not compete with that too much. I like to think of the history of the home and the function for which it was originally built and work from there. We had a short timeline for this project and I had to make decisions very quickly, which was stressful but in some ways beneficial since I didn’t have the time to overthink.”

AFTER: Kirsten painted the entire interior and exterior of the home and did a fairly large landscape upgrade to improve the outdoor spaces, including stripping the paint off the original redwood board and batten, tiling the front porch, and incorporating all new plants and hardscaping in the backyard.
AFTER: Kirsten painted the entire interior and exterior of the home and did a fairly large landscape upgrade to improve the outdoor spaces, including stripping the paint off the original redwood board and batten, tiling the front porch, and incorporating all new plants and hardscaping in the backyard.
ALEXANDER ZAROUR

Of course, Kirsten wanted to put an equal amount of emphasis on the exterior of the home, for the best outdoor-indoor scenario. “We painted the entire interior and exterior of the home and did a fairly large landscape project to improve the outdoor spaces, including stripping the paint off the original redwood board and batten, tiling the front porch, and incorporating all new plants and hardscaping in the backyard,” she explains. Ultimately, she felt that this was one of the most unique things about the home in its finished glory. “Exposing that redwood and having the natural warmth of the wood against the very dark paint that I chose felt right for the house and also unique for the area.”

AFTER: The designer was able to add a fourth sleeping space by converting the previous formal dining room into a bedroom. The wall color is from Farrow & Ball’s California collection, which is a collab with Kelly Wearstler.
AFTER: The designer was able to add a fourth sleeping space by converting the previous formal dining room into a bedroom. The wall color is from Farrow & Ball’s California collection, which is a collab with Kelly Wearstler.

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest

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