Words by Jessica Bahr | Photos by Nate Sheets
A Hallbrook home shines bright with a French-inspired kitchen, rich layers and several "jewel box" moments.
ost renovations update homes. Very few actually change a home’s DNA. In the case of this 1990s Colonial, evolution seems to have happened at a cellular level. From the boring and expected to the enduring and inspired, a Eurostar is born.
Maybe this transformation is a sign of its time: a project undertaken at the height of COVID-19 when lockdown compelled creativity. Or perhaps it’s the pairing of an intrepid homeowner with the dynamic design duo behind Kobel + Co: Elizabeth Bennett and Mallory Robins. Whatever the catalyst, the conditions were just right.
“I think we just saw a potential to glow it up,” Mallory says. “They’re a young family; they’re fun and playful. They like this sort of old European feel but also very much want a livable house that’s welcoming and inviting to their friends, their kids’ friends. The client trusted our ability to interpret her personal aesthetic and run with it. She let us try things that were out of the box and that she hadn’t seen before.”
The home’s aesthetic reflects a consistency among other Kobel + Co projects. It’s collected and layered. It plays with genre, mixing and matching traditional elements with modern touches. But this particular homeowner’s vision is what distinguishes it from other projects.
“This client knew her personal aesthetic, less to do with maker or brands or any kind of affiliation, just more that she knew how she wanted her house to feel,” Elizabeth explains. “She knew she did not want her whole house to feel whitewashed, like with Belgian linen and lots of neutrals. She wanted jewel tones and rich color.”
Familiar with their client’s vision and working style, Elizabeth and Mallory knew this project would be an exciting one. They’d previously worked with the homeowner on a “massive” Christmas install, as they did for many homes in Hallbrook in the early days of their business. The three eventually formed a friendship.
When it was time for a large-scale renovation, the homeowner knew exactly who to call for design vision. Nearly every room in the house was to be transformed, plus exterior projects, including a pool, new finish and paint on the house and landscape lighting.
To begin, Gerald Janssen of ESC Architects reimagined the home’s tired spaces. Its overall layout is still very much the same as the original. For the most part, the homeowner wasn’t interested in changing the footprint, and its solid stature didn’t demand it.
Bringing those plans to life, contractor Brett Standard of RM Standard Construction was an invaluable partner to the design team as they worked together to troubleshoot some of the more challenging spaces. The kitchen, in particular, provided the biggest opportunity for change.
As with many large homes of this locale and era, the original kitchen had diminutive proportions, a low ceiling and poor lighting. So it was here that Elizabeth and Mallory “dropped anchor,” as they say, to focus on getting the kitchen right and allow other decisions to flow from there.
The partners specify a foundational room, element or mood for nearly every project. The anchor can differ client-to-client, but Elizabeth and Mallory typically like to start in the kitchen, which informs so many decisions about a client’s budget, preferred palette and lifestyle. And in this kitchen, sights were set around one element in particular: the premium black Lacanche range.
On the homeowner’s dream list from day one, the range from the storied French company puts the “Euro” in this aptly named home. Its high-performance quality—coupled with the timeless beauty of clean lines and mixed-metal design—is as at home in this Hallbrook residence as it would be in an 18th-century Parisian château. The kitchen design took shape around the stately range, with the custom minimalist hood, creamy white walls and impressive double island as the supporting ensemble.
With the well-appointed kitchen serving as the steadying anchor, every other room of the house could take on an uninhibited personality of its own. Where color is used, it’s saturated. Textiles are rich and invitingly tactile. And while an elevated lifestyle is evident throughout, playful touches are skillfully layered in each room, keeping the overall tone relaxed. From the Eric Stefanski Touch Me oil painting in the entry to the hidden bookshelf in the hearth room to custom-made bunks in a son’s bedroom, intentionally unique choices are everywhere.
“We wanted every space to feel welcoming, and not precious, but really tailored and well-designed,” Elizabeth says. “But we don’t ever want to sit in a box of one particular aesthetic… I think big ideas are also the ones that pay off the most.”
Once an awkward 1990s throwback, this home’s metamorphosis from bland to bright is complete. Why settle for “updated” when you have the chance to shine?
Interior Designer: Kobel + Co, @kobelandco
Architect: ESC Architects, @escarchitects
Contractor: RM Standard Construction, @rmstandardconstruction
Architect: ESC Architects
Interior Designer: KOBEL + CO
Contractor: RM Standard Construction
Appliances: Lacanche range; Sub-Zero/Wolf
Vintage Art Sourced from Chairish: Eric Stefanski; Natalie Obradovich; Rebecca Jack
Antiques and Accessories: Prize Home + Garden
Cabinets and Closets: Built to Fit Custom Cabinets
Kitchen Countertops: Triton Stone Group; Dimensional Stoneworks
Hardware Pulls: Waterworks
Lighting Fixtures: Relative Lighting
Kitchen Plumbing Fixtures: Waterstone from Ferguson
Wall Coverings: Brunschwig & Fils–”Bibliotheque”; Rebel Walls–”Bellewood”
Flowers: Bergamot & Ivy
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