Cornerstone Design 9

Paris: City of Light…And Sometimes Kitchens

Ron and Stacey Guill had been talking about remodeling the kitchen in their Spring Meadows home on the Boise River for quite some time when they took a recent trip to Paris. There, they stumbled across an Arclinea showroom that had exactly what they wanted, and they knew it was time.

When they got home, they visited the nearest U.S. showroom for the Italian kitchen design company in San Francisco, and were told they needed detailed drawings and plans for their remodel in order to proceed. That’s when Suzie Hall, president and principal designer of Boise’s award-winning Cornerstone Interior Design, entered the picture.

“When I met with them, my first thought was, ‘How is this very contemporary-style kitchen going to fit in with the rest of their not-exactly-contemporary home,’” says Suzie.

She immediately saw the potential and took on the challenge, but achieving her vision would require changing more than just the kitchen. In fact, she wanted to remodel their entire downstairs living space.

“They have this beautiful location on the Boise River, with a nice patio area right outside from the living room, but they told me they hardly ever go out there because it’s just too awkward to access,” she explains. “So there was this wonderful opportunity to create a great indoor-outdoor space and at the same time bring their living room into sync with the new kitchen design.”

The Guills were excited about her ideas, even when they learned that she also wanted to remodel their existing fireplace. It turns out Stacey and Ron are big fans of the iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who also had a big influence on Suzie’s career. Wright believed that the hearth is the center of the house, and that mutually-shared belief led to the creation of a truly unique centerpiece for the whole project.

“The kitchen was the starting point, so we knocked out the whole wall around the old fireplace and created a real focal point for the space with the new custom fireplace,” says Suzie.

Ron, a retired mining engineer, wanted it to have a cave-like feel. Suzie layered 3/16″ steel plates from Erwin Metal Fabrication, with 3/4″ quartzite slabs fashioned by Artistic Tile and Granite, to create an earthy, yet contemporary look surrounding a jagged steel surround that opens both front and back.

The Cornerstone team is nothing if not collaborative, with their clients as well as their expert cadre of professional designers, project managers, contractors and subs, so when Ron wanted an even more jagged look for his “cave” than Cornerstone’s original design called for, he was able to personally work with the metal fabricator to get what he envisioned by rolling back the edges of the steel around the opening.

Much to their delight, the new kitchen is almost exactly the same as the one Stacy and Ron fell in love with in Paris. The sitting area off the pantry was next on Suzie’s list. She’s quick to say that getting to know your clients is not just a key part of a successful design, the joy of making new friends is what really makes it all come together. Knowing that Stacy is a writer, and that both she and Ron love books, Cornerstone envisioned the space as a library.

“They wanted a more contemporary color palette to go along with their new look, and that really helped to brighten that area up,” says Suzie. “We added some new furniture and some bookshelves, and now you can sit in there and look through the fireplace to the living room and all the way outside. The whole living space just has a much more open, airy feel to it now. Ron and Stacy have both said it’s made a world of difference.”

One thing that sets Suzie’s designs apart from everyone else’s is her holistic approach.

“I like to touch everything in the homes and spaces we design, from the interior architecture to the lighting, and I’m especially a fan of the new technology that makes homes smarter and helps contribute to the overall comfort inside,” Suzie explains. “I don’t want to ignore anything.”

In keeping with that philosophy, the pantry underwent quite possibly the most miraculous change of all in this project, becoming a room unto itself. All the shelves were removed and the back wall became a wine wall. Next to it, a wet bar with an antique mirrored tile backsplash. And continuing the spirit of collaboration, the Guill’s friendship with restauranteur John Berryhill resulted in a door fashioned from wooden wine crates that closes off a storage space under the stairs.

With the kitchen now more open to the living room, which itself is accented by a striking, custom-designed Lindley Glass panel, access to the outside patio area is easier and more direct. Raising the outside wall and adding a bank of windows over the original picture windows, brings in more of the river view along with an abundance of natural light. New flagstone pavers and a fire pit brightened up the patio space, and replacing the old, canvas covering with a rising metal canopy brings the contemporary feel of the interior outside as well.

In the end, about 1,700 square feet of their 3,200-square-foot home was renovated. Basically, everything but the bedrooms and bathrooms. The project lasted 15 months, with construction taking up the last seven months. And while Suzie felt it all seemed to move along pretty fast, she is quick to acknowledge that it always seems longer to the clients who are living through it. Either way, thanks to Suzie Hall and Cornerstone Interior Design, Ron and Stacy now have a beautiful, new, contemporary work of art that they call home.