An extreme purge gives a 1960s ranch a fresh start
There’s no rule that says spring cleaning has to last only one spring. Cheryl and Danny Hansford spent a full 18 months spiffing up the 1960s architecture of their longtime home overlooking a golf course in Pleasanton, California—and swept away a lifetime of tchotchkes, oversized furniture, and outdated accessories in the process. That kind of dramatic change would terrify many people, but the Hansfords fearlessly embraced their big purge and in return got the home of their dreams.
Rethinking your life with such confidence takes encouragement. Luckily, Cheryl and husband Danny, a steel company executive and avid golfer, got that in spades when they hired interior designer Kelie Grosso. For two years, the couple had been staring at blueprints for a makeover of the one-story ranch they’d purchased in 1999. But until their daughter Anne Marie introduced them to Grosso, owner of Seattle’s Maison Luxe, they hadn’t been able to pull the trigger.
“We knew we needed more room for our two married daughters and four grandchildren,” says Cheryl, a confessed serial entertainer, “and I really wanted a bigger party space!” But Grosso says Cheryl still “needed a little push.”
Here, the 1969 ranch is clad in shingles, which gives the house a stylized Craftsman look.
Photography: John Granen
Produced by Linda Humphrey with Eleanor Roper
Interior Design: Kelie Grosso, Maison Luxe, 2806 E. Madison St., Seattle, WA 98112; 206/405-2828, maisonluxe.net .
Landscape Design: Martha Criswell, Martha Criswell Home & Garden Design, Sacramento, CA; 916/719-1906.
Great Room Before
First, the Hansfords tore off an old porch that Cheryl recalls as “dark, dark, dark,” which also blocked light into the house. In its place they added 500 sun-drenched square feet of space encompassing a new breakfast room and a much-expanded great room, with unobstructed views of Danny’s beloved golf course.
Before: Oriental carpets in dark colors like rusty red, navy blue, and hunter green. “They evoke the 1980s for me,” says designer Kelie Grosso.
Great Room After
The next major task was cleaning up the seemingly random French country feel of the place. For instance, the old family room had a cavernous cathedral ceiling, 16 feet at its peak, but the adjacent open kitchen’s ceiling was only 8 feet high. Splitting the difference, they took the expansive new great room’s ceiling down and brought the kitchen’s up to meet it.
“It’s amazing. Even though it’s a much larger space, it feels cozier than before,” says Cheryl. Indeed, on a cool Northern California evening, the great room, with its fireplace radiating warmth throughout, is clearly the new soul of the home.
Shown here, Madeline Weinrib’s “Gemma” rug and Barclay Butera’s zebra-print “Newport” lounge chair with ottoman add a big impact to this neutral palette. Artwork from Natural Curiosities and an Hermès throw maintain the color scheme.
After: Big exotic-patterned rugs “are new classics,” says Grosso “But only in simple neutrals. Purple or bright red gets dated fast.” Natural wools, sisals, and seagrass rugs are also high on Grosso’s list these days. “But I might take a sisal and bind it with a Kelly green leather edge to elevate it a bit.” As for tried-and-true Orientals? Grosso still loves them, but not in deep colors. “Orientals with softer palettes feel right today.”
The whole place went through that kind of recalibration and repurposing. “What’s now the office used to be the dining room,” says Cheryl, adding that the dining room now occupies the window side of the great room, just steps from French doors to the terrace.
“Before, we’d have to cram the whole family in the old dining room, and it didn’t even have a window,” says Cheryl. “It was just a closed-in hovel! Kelie made it into an office and suggested adding a window with a view of the valley. It’s perfect.”
Perfect now, but when Grosso first saw the drawings for the house’s radical new plan, she knew the Hansfords’ furnishings were a match for the “before” house, not the “after.” “I said to myself, Oh, no; so many of her things have got to go. But luckily, Cheryl was ready to do it!” The pair walked around the house with a roll of blue tape, tagging anything tired or dated, and shipped it all off to auction or donated it to a charity. “The house’s contents are probably 80 percent new,” admits Grosso, “and it was a tough transition for the Hansfords because they had all these collections. So I said, ‘We’ll put some of it in storage and get back to it later,’ but Cheryl said, ‘No, let’s be honest; we’re never going back.’ ”
Cheryl can laugh about it now. “I realized that even though I loved my things, I was living in a ‘grandma’ house. I even got rid of the plaster hood over the stove that I thought was so chic back in the day—suddenly it seemed huge and ugly! Now I’m all about things that are clean and simple.”
Here, the ebony finish of a steel glassware cabinet was meticulously matched to Kevin Reilly’s “Altar” hanging light for continuity. To keep the mood relaxed, Hickory Chair dining chairs, upholstered in a neutral Moore & Giles leather, rest on a woven seagrass rug.
And what could be simpler than a life lived in just three colors? One way Grosso freshened the style here was by limiting the palette to camel, black, and white, using those colors over and over again throughout the house. “It creates a clear-your-mind kind of house, a fresh, crisp way to live,” she explains.
While there may be very little color, there is a host of textures to tease the eye—a cowhide rug in the entry, burlap grass-cloth walls in the office, a gloriously worn farm table in the breakfast area, and nubby linen slipcovers in the living room. Pattern also adds interest—like the exotic ikat that upholsters the master bed and the eye-catching zebra-print chair in the great room. The collective impact of the home’s three signature colors is serene and supremely livable. “Kelie made this house so much more comfortable,” says Cheryl. “I can see now how much easier it is to live in a house with less visual noise and more open space.
“I keep saying, ‘Why didn’t we do this before?’ The house just flows into the outdoors.” And what is Danny’s view of the renovation? “He finally gets to look at the golf course—and Danny always wants to look at the golf course!”
In the entry, a ceiling lantern from Visual Comfort and table lamp from Circa Lighting illuminate framed family photos.
Living Room Before
Before: The impressive fireplace was a great focal point, but the old living room was cluttered with tchotchkes.
Living Room After
After: The existing concrete fireplace was sheathed in Venetian plaster. A sofa by Maison Luxe and two tufted chairs from Milling Road provide abundant comfort.
Breakfast Room Before
Before: The kitchen had a large window overlooking the porch, but space was limited.
Breakfast Room After
After: By expanding onto the old porch, the pre-renovation exterior window became a pass-through from the kitchen to the new breakfast room; it’s flanked by built-ins that keep everyday dishes and linens at hand.
Breakfast Room After
After: Covered in a casual print from Raoul Textiles, an accommodating window seat in the new addition overlooks the garden and golf course. Conrad shades filter the sunlight; Windsor chairs from O & G Studio flank a handsome farm table.
Before: The kitchen felt outdated and featured a plaster hood that Cheryl thought was too bulky.
After: The kitchen was given a fresh, streamlined look. Original cabinets were given new doors, while a Viking stove and hood replaced outdated appliances. Calcutta Tia marble sheathes the backsplash and counters.
After: An antique display cabinet from France holds treasured serving pieces; beautiful blue-and-white urns are displayed on top.
Grosso's simple color scheme continues in the master bedroom where texture and pattern add interest. The shade of gray in the Kravet fabric enveloping the bed harmonizes with terrace walls outside. A Baker chaise covered in silk mohair provides a spot to relax. An antique Oushak carpet is delightful underfoot.
Inspired by the designer’s love for French style, a vintage 19th-century Louis Philippe gilt mirror hangs from antiqued mirror panels accented with rosettes. Illumination is provided by rock crystal sconces from Kallista and a sparkling ceiling light from Matthew Studios.
Out back, custom iron fences suggest a feeling of walls for the outdoor room.
Lemons and limes grow in abundance and make a lovely centerpiece.
Landscape designer Martha Criswell created the expansive two-tier terrace. Blue batik pillows from Ralph Lauren accent seating pieces, including a white Janus et Cie “Azimuth” settee and white barrel tables from Wisteria.
An outdoor dining area is furnished with an “Azimuth” table and “Vitali” chairs by Janus et Cie. Horse heads mounted on the exterior of the home are from Big Daddy antiques.