A home makeover shows off the beauty of casual living.
By Catherine Warmerdam
Photography by Kat Alves
Interior Design: Katie Denham Interiors
BOB AND JEAN BONAR of Carmichael had lived in their 1975 Streng home for 25 years when they decided an update was in order. “We were at that point where we hadn’t done anything significant to improve our home,” says Bob. Thankfully, the 1,800-square-foot house still had good bones, including a pragmatic layout and ample natural light from an abundance of windows. But a dated kitchen, damaged terrazzo floors and older furnishings meant it was time for something new.
Enter Sacramento interior designer Katie Denham, whom Bob had heard about from a colleague. At the time, Denham’s design portfolio leaned more traditional than contemporary, but the Bonars, whose taste runs modern, were unfazed. “We knew that Katie was someone who had very good taste and good design sense and was someone we could trust to do the work,” says Bob.
Denham was careful to ensure that the floor-to-ceiling makeover didn’t interfere with the home’s existing architectural assets. “I didn’t want to mess much with the architecture at all,” explains Denham. “I wanted to make sure that we stayed true to the house, especially on the exterior. It’s such thoughtful architecture to begin with that it doesn’t need to be changed.”
Instead, Denham focused on flooring, finishes and furnishings that could usher the home into the new century without sacrificing elements that lend the home its character. For example, rather than changing the façade of the brick fireplace that is the focal point of the living room, Denham simply refreshed it with a coat of paint. “I liked its texture, and it speaks to a lifestyle that is casual and affordable,” she says.
Denham strategically used a restrained palette of blues, greens and grays throughout the space. “Strengs are not large homes and the rooms flow together, so you can’t vary the color palette too much,” she explains. The Bonars were initially hesitant about the green walls in the great room, but they soon warmed to the color. “We didn’t believe that it was ever going to work, but it’s super now. It all goes together,” says Bob. “We trust her implicitly with her color choices.”
Artwork was important to personalizing the rooms, which feel calm, never cluttered. “Whether it’s a traditional home or a contemporary one, as much as the client allows I like to simplify as much as I can,” says Denham. “I want to have their things in the home and make it personal to them while also updating fabrics and furnishings and calming things down.”
The Bonars couldn’t be happier with the results. “People walk into our house and are like, ‘Wow!’” says Bob. “It’s a great home for entertaining, but the best part is that it’s easy to live in.”