From French Country to California Calm: A Living Room and Kitchen Remodel

September 27, 2018

My good friend and personal trainer, Jennifer Bewick, remodeled her living area and kitchen last year. The result is spectacular. It’s open, airy, bright and fresh. People tend to gasp when they walk through the front door. Of course, I wanted you to see it, too!

Jen is an impressive person. She’s incredibly fit, which helps her run around after her four active children. She’s a superb friend and wife, who very rarely gets pulled into negativity or gossip. Still, she doesn’t come off as holier-than-thou. Besides wanting to know how she navigated her renovation so successfully, I wanted to know how she navigates life so successfully. How does she stay moving? How does she keep her kids moving? How does she stay upbeat? Her answers were interesting.

Annie: What inspired you to renovate?

Jen: When we moved into our home, we loved the bones and layout of the house, but the kitchen wasn’t our style and it lacked some basic, functional necessities.

wide view of kitchen island

kitchen stools: Serena and Lily

kitchen sink and window

Annie: What changes did you make?

Jen: Essentially, we started from scratch. There was a wall separating the kitchen from our living area that we removed. We also took out a corner fireplace that served no purpose. The bay window over the sink was replaced with a larger, pass-through window.  We flipped the position of the island and increased its size. Finally, we removed the French doors leading to the backyard and installed three large pocket doors that completely open to the most used part of the property, our backyard.

Viking stove

Jen: The original style was French country, but we wanted something more Santa Barbara beachy and relaxed.  To achieve that look, we updated the finishes in neutral, soothing tones. We chose gray marble subway tiles for the backsplash and Carrara marble for the large island.  To add contrast, we used dark gray quartz for the counter tops.  We removed the tile on the floor and carried the hardwood floors in our living area throughout the kitchen.  

Annie: How long did the renovation take?

Jen: Approximately 4 months.

Annie: Any tips for someone staring down the barrel of an extensive remodel?

Jen: We chose to live in our house during the remodel. Some people thought that was crazy, especially since we had a newborn. It definitely was a challenge and there were days that I thought I might go insane, but we made it work. We grilled most nights. No dishwasher meant lots of paper goods were used. I accepted that our carbon footprint would be much larger for those months.  

If you’re going to do a renovation you have to go into it expecting delays, unexpected costs, and frustrations. Also, if you have a vision and you want it realized, you need to take a very active role in the day to day ongoings.   

couch: The Sofa Company

Annie: How did you make your design decisions? Take us through your “process.”

Jen: My husband, Keith, and I planned our remodel for more than a year. Certain things we knew we wanted because our current kitchen lacked them: a walk-in pantry, an island large enough for six, plenty of light, and an open layout. The internet, especially Houzz & Pinterest, played a large role in figuring out the details. While I didn’t hire a designer, I enlisted the expertise of Lucie Ayres of 22 Interiors, who happens to be a client & friend. She helped me narrow down choices and figure out layouts. Luckily, she never tired of my questions!

built ins and view to outside

Annie: How did your love of fitness begin? 

Jen: At an early age, I turned to running because I felt I had no control in other areas of my life. I was an outspoken teen and my parents were strict.  On many occasions I felt helpless & powerless, but running was something I could do when everything else seemed out of my hands. Now, I use it as a stress reliever, a motivator, an escape, and a social connector. 

Annie: All of your kids are very active and successful in sports. Any tips for introducing kids to exercise in a way that doesn’t turn them off to it?

Jen: My message to the kids has always been simple: I want my body strong and healthy so I can do all the things they love & be the best mom possible. I believe if this message is delivered early and often, children will be more open & receptive to exercising themselves. 

Not all kids love sports, but they do all want to feel special, successful and recognized. As parents, we owe it to our kids to expose them to as many sports & activities as possible. That way, they can find the one or two (or even three) they gravitate towards. It can be inconvenient. There is lots of driving, but being active is non-negotiable. 

detail of chase

throw blankets: Motti Casa; pillows: Pottery Barn, One Kings Lane

Annie: You never complain or gossip about anyone, yet you never come off as holier-than-thou. Any tips for keeping a benevolent frame of mind toward others? 

Jen: I’m extremely self-critical, so when I know I’ve been on unfair or unkind it eats me alive. I’ve learned through experience gossip just isn’t worth the self-loathing afterwards. I also keep in mind that I can never know everything going on in someone’s life and how their own hardships may influence their behavior. We all have our “stuff.”

2 responses to “From French Country to California Calm: A Living Room and Kitchen Remodel”

  1. Suzy says:

    Oooh Annie—Your Friend sounds just like her house looks! To me, that’s the perfect remodel: to match the outside with the inside. I also admire her making her own choices for her own room. That must be why it looks real and human, not artificial. Kudos!

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