Before + After / Sunnyvale Scandinavian

Transformations don’t get more dramatic than this! While our clients had owned their Sunnyvale ranch for almost a decade, very little had been updated since the house was built in the 70s. Being avid cooks, the most important updated needed for the clients was improving the kitchen layout and organization. The clients wanted a fresh Scandinavian-inspired look and feel, and we delivered a solid foundation on which to continue building their home piece by piece.

For this project, we pushed out an exterior wall to make room for a new and larger kitchen, removed a wall in the dining room to open up the layout, replaced the flooring, and refreshed the paint and lighting throughout.

BEFORE: A tiny, cramped kitchen

BEFORE: A tiny, cramped kitchen

AFTER: A spacious, well-organized kitchen designed for two cooks

AFTER: A spacious, well-organized kitchen designed for two cooks

BEFORE: Not enough storage and counter space

BEFORE: Not enough storage and counter space

AFTER: Optimized storage and spacious counters for prep work

AFTER: Optimized storage and spacious counters for prep work

BEFORE: A characterless office

BEFORE: A characterless office

AFTER: Color and a cozy reading nook added to the office

AFTER: Color and a cozy reading nook added to the office

Learn how you can create a Scandinavian-inspired kitchen through our recent feature in Rue Magazine.

What’s your favorite part of this renovation? Share with us in the comments below!

Before + After / Sunset Kitchen

Not gonna lie, this was one major transformation in one very small, windowless space. Our clients were avid cooks and frustrated with their cramped kitchen and its dysfunctional layout. We opened up a wall to create room for friends and family to gather, and even though we removed a few upper cabinets, the kitchen ended up being more space efficient in the end. Check it out:

BEFORE: What you’re seeing is the length of the kitchen.

BEFORE: What you’re seeing is the length of the kitchen.

AFTER: There used to be a wall and a fridge where the peninsula is.

AFTER: There used to be a wall and a fridge where the peninsula is.

BEFORE: Fluorescent lighting, need I say more?

BEFORE: Fluorescent lighting, need I say more?

AFTER: Recessed lighting keeps the small space clutter free, while the pendant adds some interest.

AFTER: Recessed lighting keeps the small space clutter free, while the pendant adds some interest.

BEFORE: Induced claustrophobia

BEFORE: Induced claustrophobia

AFTER: Room to breathe

AFTER: Room to breathe

What’s your favorite part of the new kitchen? Tell us in the comments below!

Pro Tip: When You Should Hire an Interior Designer

Interior designers create beautiful spaces, but hiring one isn’t right for every project. Here are the top 5 reasons for when you’ll want a full-service designer on your team...
 

1 / YOU WANT A UNIQUE SPACE

Interior designers help make any space uniquely yours due to their vast network of local, domestic, and international sources. They’ll find the exact right pieces for your home that you likely won’t see anywhere else, or they’ll create the perfect custom piece for you in collaboration with expert craftsmen.

Rest assured — your home will not look like your neighbor’s!

2 / YOU WANT FUNCTIONALITY AND DURABILITY FOR SPECIFIC NEEDS

Interior designers take the time to understand how you’ll be living in your space. Do you need to accommodate high-use areas for kids or pets? Do you have light-sensitive sleepers in an east-facing bedroom?

Interior designers apply their extensive knowledge of materials and vendors to help design your ideal space. You’ll get more than just a beautiful and inspiring home — you’ll get one that fits your daily life and is built to last.
 

3 / YOU WANT A COST-EFFICIENT PROJECT

Yes, hiring an interior designer is a considerable investment into your home, but there are several cost benefits too.

  • Interior designers’ relationships with vendors often result in prices lower than if you’d purchased the same items on your own.
  • Form + Field excels at project management and has overseen many projects before yours. We’ll help you avoid costly mistakes so you can have a beautiful space where money is spent on the things you care about most.

4 / YOU WANT A LOW TIME COMMITMENT

With an interior designer you’ll benefit from:

  • A hands-off project that is completed in the most time-efficient manner possible
  • An experienced person on-site to help you avoid time-sucking mistakes that could set back project schedule

With an interior designer on your team, you won’t squander your precious time resolving issues or sifting through countless options. You don’t need to be on-site with contractors or overseeing installations… and your project will be completed more quickly if you aren’t!
 

5 / YOU WANT CONFIDENCE AND PEACE OF MIND

Your interior designer understands building codes, communication requirements between parties, and every other nuance of a design project. They’ve managed the process many times before!

This means…

  • You can trust that your project is in qualified and talented hands.
  • You can live your life as normally as possible during the process.
  • Above all, you can experience stress-free the excitement of knowing your future home will be nothing short of stunning!

Wondering if an interior designer is right for your project? Ask us your questions in the comments below!

Pro Tip / What You Need to Know Before Renovating in the San Francisco Bay Area, Part 2

When it comes to renovations, the Bay Area is a unique place. Between historical preservation, city planning commissions, and keeping the peace with your not-so-distant neighbors, building in the city and surrounding areas isn’t a stroll through Golden Gate Park! 

Before you're in the midst of your project and wishing the nightmare would end (believe us, this happens more often than not), check out our advice on what you can proactively do to set yourself up for success. This is Part 2 of our two part series, and we're kicking it off with Tip #4. (Missed Part 1? Start here.)

Tip #4: Plan the holistic picture + specific needs of your space

If you’re looking for someone to consider your space’s flow, daily function, style, finishes, furnishings, accessories, and art, you’ll want an interior designer on your team. Structural engineers and architects have their specific roles, and won't be able to get into the nitty gritty of interiors work. Interior designers are immersed in the latest designs, materials, and vendors for the items that go into your space, especially when it comes down to specific functional needs such as the latest in kid- and pet-friendly materials. 

Tip: Assembling a reno team takes time, so start looking at least 1-2 months in advance before you want to start the design process. Consider the scope of your work and whether you simply want the architecture of the space done, or whether you want all the details completed down to the furnishing, art, and accessories.

An interior designer plans specializes in defining the details of your space

An interior designer plans specializes in defining the details of your space

Tip #5: Be realistic about your budget

Bay Area renovations range from a minimum of $300-$500 per sq ft, depending on the room, the finishes selected, and the amount of construction required (addition, rerouting pipes, windows, etc.).

To be safe, err high, and always have a contingency budget of at least 10% for unforeseen expenses. There may be surprises hiding behind those walls, or you may want to increase the scope along the way. If your budget doesn't cover your ideal scope, try to prioritize your wish list into phases that optimize the time and money to be spent. For example, if you're changing the flooring in a room, then consider if you should do painting at the same time so that the room can be efficiently completed. 

Historic San Francisco homes may come with a greater number of surprises

Historic San Francisco homes may come with a greater number of surprises

Tip #6: Anticipate the unique conditions of the Bay Area building boom

The current Bay Area building boom means your project may not begin right away. If you’re doing an extensive renovation, permits from your city can also take additional time, sometimes as long as 6-12 months or more, due to the back-up of requests. 

Plus, the high demand for construction means that labor costs are increasing year over year in the double digits, so it’s important to lock down a contractor sooner rather than later. Contractors will line up other work for when they predict your project will end, and if there’s scope creep later during construction, there’s no guarantee your project will be completed by the same contractor... or in a timely manner.

The Solution: Assemble your team well in advance and clearly define scope based on your budget before construction starts. As interior designers who have been through the renovation process end-to-end, Form + Field is your partner and advocate throughout the entire journey and beyond.

Have additional tips to share for renovation projects? Add them to the comments below! 

 

Pro Tip / What You Need to Know Before Renovating in the San Francisco Bay Area, Part 1

When it comes to renovations, the Bay Area is a unique place. Between historical preservation, city planning commissions, and keeping the peace with your not-so-distant neighbors, building in the city and surrounding areas isn’t a stroll through Golden Gate Park!

Before you're in the midst of your project and wishing the nightmare would end (believe us, this happens more often than not), check out our advice on what you can proactively do to set yourself up for success. Here's Part 1 of this two part series. 

Tip #1: Stay cohesive with the neighborhood

If you’re doing any kind of exterior renovation in the Bay Area, you may be required to keep your new exterior design cohesive with the neighborhood. For example, if you’re on a street where every house has a bay window, your home’s exterior may need to incorporate some sort of bay window. Keeping the character of the neighborhood can also be subjective, and you’ll be at the mercy of whatever planner the city has assigned you.

For any renovation affecting the exterior, it’s best to have an architect on your team. Architects are great for thinking about the exterior and spatial volumes of a building. Tip: Choose an architect who has done many projects in your city or town so they know the planning department well and have their ear. Also, learn in advance from the city's planning department or the architect what the standards are, if any, for keeping the neighborhood character. That sleek, modern addition of your dreams may not be 100% attainable!

Due diligence is required for changes to exterior walls

Due diligence is required for changes to exterior walls

Tip #2: Play nice with your neighbors

On the subject of neighborhoods, the Bay Area, and especially San Francisco, is unique in that just because you own your property, it doesn't mean you have complete control over what you do with it. However, it's not just the planning department that has a say, but also your neighbors. In the case of exterior changes, consider your neighbor your best ally, or potentially your worst nightmare.

The planning department doesn't want a neighbor's complaint to go into official review, so you're incentivized to resolve differences with your neighbors early without getting the planning department involved. Meet your neighbors face-to-face and get to know them before you start your renovation process. Listen to their concerns about your plans, and work together on creative solutions. Sometimes you won't be able to placate your neighbors 100%, but it helps to show that you tried. If you haven't tried, the penalties can be severe, and a big red pen might be taken to your design.

Tip #3: Hire a structural engineer for an open concept

Open floor plans are one of the most popular renovation requests right now — but not all of those walls can be simply knocked down! Sometimes there’s plumbing behind the drywall or it's a load bearing wall. Pipes may or may not be worth relocating, and to remove a load bearing wall, you may need a new steel or reinforced beam to carry the weight of the floor above.

If you’re determined to make an open concept plan happen, hire a structural engineer. They’ll come up with a construction design that will give you the space you want while adhering to building code and safety. Even if you have an architect on your team, the architect will likely still recommend hiring a structural engineer if there’s significant work needed. On the other hand, if it’s simply removing a few walls and not an addition, you might be able to get away with only a structural engineer and interior designer on your team, and no architect.

The structural details behind creating an open floor plan

The structural details behind creating an open floor plan

We'll be concluding our two-part series of renovation tips for the San Francisco Bay Area next week! Stay tuned.

Have additional tips to share for renovation projects? Add them to the comments below!