French Translation

Photography by Stephanie Russo; General Contractor: River City Restoration
french translation kitchen

From ranch house to farmhouse, with more than a soupçon of style.

What do you do with clients who have a love of French antiques, a yearning for farm animals and a thoroughly outdated 1950s ranch-style house?

If you’re interior designer Katrina Stumbos, you set to work helping your clients turn that rancher into a showstopper based on a French farmhouse. Not a modern farmhouse or an “Old McDonald had a farm” kind of farmhouse, but a European-inspired farmhouse with élan and sophisticated style to spare.

french kitchen

Stumbos’ clients are an empty-nester couple who love to entertain. A few years ago, they purchased the ranch house on more than an acre of land in Sacramento’s bucolic Mariemont neighborhood with plans to remodel the galley kitchen and tiny master bathroom. But it eventually dawned on them that it might be easier to start from scratch than to try to fix what didn’t work.

french living room

The wife wanted a big white house with large porches, front and back. The husband wanted a barn that he could fill with goats, chickens, rabbits, maybe even a miniature horse or donkey.

They both got their wish. At 4,500 square feet, the house is pleasingly proportioned for both daily life and special occasions with friends and family. The heart of the house is a massive, vaulted space that houses the kitchen at one end, the family room at the other. French doors lead out to a patio and the backyard, where a newly built barn houses the husband’s dream menagerie.

french bathroom
In the master bath, the roman shades operate via remote control.

The house boasts finishes that are high quality but not ornate. (“This is not a chateau,” Stumbos quips.) In the kitchen, an island the size of Texas is topped with gray-veined Calacatta marble. Three oversized light fixtures—black-steel cone pendants 24 inches in diameter—hang in a row above the island. “They’re big,” says Stumbos, “but completely size appropriate.” That goes double for the 60-inch range—a smaller one would have looked dinky in the space.

The exhaust hood is clad in wood paneling that was laid vertically and painted white. “It has texture but doesn’t feel like shiplap or cabinetry,” Stumbos explains. Shiplap has gotten a bad rap of late, thanks to HGTV star Joanna Gaines’ promiscuous use of the product on her show “Fixer Upper.” But Stumbos felt this farmhouse needed a bit of understated rusticity, so she applied shiplap to the ceilings in the living room, dining room and patios.

french vanity
Silver-leaf mirrors and honed marble tile add to the luxe feel in the master bath. The cabinetry was painted a soft shade of putty for a touch of warmth.

The exhaust hood is balanced by the soaring rock fireplace on the opposite wall. The family room has scads of seating: a 12-foot-long custom sofa, four chairs and two ottomans. An antique buffet once owned by actress Pamela Anderson now serves as a media cabinet.

Stumbos left the area between the kitchen and family room without furniture because she didn’t want to impede the view of a 200-year-old oak in the backyard. “The house is just the two of them,” she says. “You don’t have to fill it with stuff.”