Before and After: A Traditional Family Home Gets a Fresh Update
“Start small” is advice we hear in many facets of life, and when decorating your home, it’s certainly a sensible game plan—especially since design projects tend to grow as you pick up speed. When Paul and Aly Pernecky hired Los Angeles-based Burnham Design to renovate their Pasadena, Calif. family home, “They knew they wanted to change their kitchen and update on basement, but at that point, that’s kind of all they wanted,” founder Betsy Burnham tells us.
Keep scrolling to find out what happened next...
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Soon enough, the scope of the project had expanded substantially: Burnham and her partner Max Humphrey brought in an architect and a structural engineer to move walls and put in beams. By the end of the project, the team had renovated the family’s dated kitchen, refinished floors throughout the house, created a mudroom and a walk-in pantry, redecorated the living room, and remodeled a powder room, along with the media and game rooms in the basement.
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Burnham’s initial goal was to give the Perneckys a family-friendly eat-in kitchen that could accommodate family meals, kids’ homework, and daily activities. “They were living in this sort of outdated space, so we wanted to bring them into the present day… but not do anything that wasn’t appropriate to the house or where they live in Pasadena,” Burnham says. “There’s a certain charm in that traditional setting that we didn’t want to lose."
From the beginning, everyone was set on the idea of a grey kitchen cabinet, which influenced the rest of the design. “We kind of wanted to lighten everything up,” Burnham says. In the open-plan room (which includes the kitchen, a lounge area, and a breakfast table), the designers kept the palette primarily white and grey, with touches of vintage red and blue textiles, and organic wood accents to give the remodel a dimensional, lived-in look.
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During the course of the project, the Perneckys decided they wanted “all new stuff” in the adjacent living room, Burnham tells us. Eschewing the stiff style of traditional living rooms, the designers created a casual-yet-polished space, emphasising comfort and crowds, as the Perneckys are frequent entertainers. After initially considering a furniture arrangement around the fireplace, which was leaving them with dead corners, Humphrey “suggested blowing off the fireplace and having two sofas in the room,” Burnham says. “And then we had this great daybed that we tried using in the center of the room. So it was just sort of trial and error.” The unusual living room layout—two sofas, two area rugs, and two coffee tables centered on a daybed—is a serendipitous success. “If they have a party with a crowd of people, this furniture means everybody can be kind of talking to each other,” Humphrey says. “It’s a social room.”
Burnham Design created another space for socialising with their renovation of the media and game rooms. A large custom sectional can house a small football team, and a pool table (the client’s table, which the designers re-felted in navy) and a vintage arcade game make for the ultimate family hangout.
In the basement and throughout the home are a lot of truly unique light fixtures from The Urban Electric Co., Coleen & Company, Ames Ingham, Christopher Spitzmiller, Noir Furniture, and Derek Marshall, which give the house an extra layer of polish and intrigue.
What pulls each room together are the carefully curated details—a Burnham Design specialty. Be it inexpensive artwork (like the vintage football team photos in the basement or the school map in the media room), exotic textiles (Peruvian saddle blankets and vintage pillows), or flea market finds (hand-thrown pottery, brass, and pewter), one-of-a-kind accessories with age and patina make the home feel personal. “I think that the vintage certainly gave the home more of an edge than it ever had,” Burnham says. “And while our clients may hire us for space planning and designing kitchens, I think it’s our job to give the space that sort of finished twist at the end.”
As for their go-to resource for those colourful, geometric-patterned, Peruvian textiles, the tight-lipped designers will never tell…