Jul 12, 2016 04:13PM
● Published by Deborah Burstyn
Turn your home into a
private paradise with pops of color and DIY style
By Deborah Burstyn
Photography by Jessica Freels
The bright promise of California indoor/outdoor living is
beautifully fulfilled in a home remodeled with charm inside and out in Walnut
Creek’s lower Lakewood neighborhood. Owners Dennis and Joan Bernal achieved a great look economically and
sustainably by using a blend of DIY skills, creativity, and salvaged
architectural pieces. The result is captivating country cottage charm
throughout the house and garden.
Luxury name brand appliances in the kitchen meld seamlessly with vintage windows and doors whose quaint details are amped up with fresh paint. Sky blue paneling on the kitchen ceiling, accented with schoolhouse light fixtures, plays well with a green tile backsplash and a mix of granite and marble counters. The kitchen’s white cabinetry and trim paired with a classy black and white color scheme make it an inviting space for lingering. It’s no wonder the Bernals' home and garden is the setting for family graduation celebrations, birthday parties, wedding and baby showers, and luncheons for Joan’s garden club.
The kitchen opens to a living area where French doors and sunny
windows create a direct connection to the landscaped garden. Outdoors a gracious
retreat beckons. Here trellised walls and a flagstone terrace create a romantic
European-style courtyard. Its handmade old-world fieldstone sheds echo the storybook
architecture of Carmel, a favorite vacation spot for the Bernals. “We use all
recycled water for watering the garden” explains Joan, who plants her flower
beds with traditional cottage garden flowers like hollyhock, larkspur,
foxglove, sweet peas and snapdragons.
Interior glass doors from the 1920s separate the original
living room from the new part of the house. An old arched window has been transformed
into an elegant mirror to enhance the transition between the old and the new.
Dennis even created his own mix of sand, lime and plaster to coat the sheetrock
walls with the smooth solid look of authentic plaster walls. When the lifelong Walnut Creek residents, who met as kids, bought
their house in 1991 it was a much different space. They added 1,474 square feet
to the existing 950 square feet of the original 1942 construction—including a
second story to make room for their family of five. In the process, they
preserved much of the home’s original character. It helped that Dennis Bernal, a
roofing contractor, was able to do a lot of the work with some help from
family, friends and neighbors.
did most of this before the internet,” says Joan. “I looked through magazines
and showed my husband pictures of homes that made me happy.” She confesses that
Dennis’s aesthetic tends to Victorian while hers is more farmhouse rustic. One
glance at their cheerful indoor/outdoor living space shows they have found the
TIPS FROM THE
Dennis photographed architectural details he admired – even in a gothic church
– to later copy for his home.
Bernals opted for a clean look that unifies the old and the new with fresh paint
on old pieces.
Expect blood, sweat
and tears. A tumble from a tall ladder while working on a skylight
destroyed some all-ready completed work, and sent Dennis to the emergency room
Keep your eyes open. A building being torn down yielded a treasure
trove of old bricks for the Bernals’ garden walkways.
Plan on compromise.
In order to use old windows, the Bernals had to increase the walls’ insulation
to meet building code standards.
The Bernals’ Sources: Urban
Ore, Omega Salvage, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, Ballard Designs, Home Depot,
Restoration Hardware, Alameda Flea Market, and Annie’s Annuals for plants.