Our resident recipe contributor Claire Thomas, blogger behind The Kitchy Kitchen and host of Food for Thought, has encountered a few surprises in her new home in the hills above Los Angeles. When she and her boyfriend Craig were home shopping in the fall of 2013, they never expected they would move into a midcentury mod home on stilts. “I had this vision of us moving into a Spanish Colonial home built in the ‘30s,” says Thomas.
The more homes they saw in that style, however, the more discouraged they became due to outdated kitchens and bathroom renovations from the ‘70s. “I was up at 2 a.m. one night, hunting and hunting on Zillow, and out of nowhere this midcentury modern craziness popped up.” The two pounced on it. “We saw it on Thursday and put in our bid on Saturday. I was just completely blown away.” She wasn’t quite as blown away, though, as she was when Craig proposed to her on their first night in their new place. “The home was filled with boxes, and we were sweaty and eating Thai food. I’ll never forget it.”
The midcentury home is an architectural gem, the entire structure sitting on stilts 20 feet off the ground. “I thought Craig and I would be in this charming home in a nice school district, instead we found this bachelor pad in the rough,” says Thomas. “It feels right for a Bond villain, like the couch should flip into a bed and a record cabinet should come up from the floor.”
Once the home was theirs, the couple began a series of renovations, including opening the kitchen up to the living room and dining room. “The kitchen was very ‘60s, but not in a fun way,” says Thomas. “I knew I wanted it to be sleek and modern, but still soft. We ended up knocking down a wall and taking space from a bunch of tiny unnecessary rooms to make the kitchen bigger. I wanted there to be too much storage.”
When Thomas first walked into the home, she said, “Well, I guess I have to be a lot more social.” Although she’s a self-professed introvert, she admits, “You can’t live here and not love entertaining.”
“Craig has a personal soundtrack at all times; he’s like John Cusack’s character in High Fidelity.”
“The guest bathroom was, and still is, my favorite room in the house,” Thomas says. When they bought the house, the previous owner had covered the walls with gold lamé wallpaper, hung marigold velvet drapes, and installed three gold chandeliers. Although Thomas wanted to keep the wallpaper, renovations got in the way. She replaced it with Hicks Hexagon wallpaper paired with Jonathan Adler sconces, and kept the original vanity and hardware. “I wanted to keep the spirit of the room there.”
“My mom bought this Art Deco-looking clock from the ‘80s that came with two accent mirrors. Between those and a tiny Venetian mirror from the flea market, I thought, ‘Let’s just make a wall of mirrored stuff!’”
“I love keeping all the doors open and the lighting dim to see the view. Basically, our home has become the place for aperitifs. Everybody will come over, have a cocktail, enjoy the view, and then we’ll all go out to dinner.”
Head over to The Kitchy Kitchen for more inspiration from Claire Thomas, and order a copy of her new cookbook The Kitchy Kitchen: New Classics for Living Deliciously today!