• Christina Rice

House of Oils: Saying Goodbye to the 1980s

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

Well, almost the nineties. This home was built in 1989, and I genuinely believe this modern Spanish fixer was a stunner in its glory days. After all, it was the model home for this new development. It sat on the perfect lot next to an impressive but humble rock in the hills above the lake in Westlake Village, California. It had ceilings that soared and an open-concept-of-sorts before open-concept was even a thing.

The Mountain making an apprearance. Photo by Denise Butler Photography

Oh, those funky cut-outs! Photo by Denise Butler Photography

Most buyers couldn't see past the strange cut-outs in the walls, the intrusive fireplace in the master, the peeling wallpaper, or the smell from the stinky carpet, but my clients could. The backyard, which is almost an acre of flat land, called to them. The home the Fante family envisioned for themselves required an outdoor sanctuary that rivaled the interior. I reassured them, we could reimagine this modern Spanish and make it a showstopper once again.

Jenna and Damian Fante loved the open-concept they had in their last home, and luckily, the existing architecture easily allows a great room in this home too. The current configuration consists of a formal living room, dining room, butler's pantry, a large kitchen, breakfast area, and family room on one side of the property with all the bedrooms privately tucked away on the other side of the home.

To fully realize this open-concept, the walls, along with the 1980s decorative cut-outs, must come down!

The Demo has begun! This entire wall is coming out.

The Fantes are successful doTERRA Essential Oil Wellness Advocates, and natural healing and an active lifestyle are essential for the family's health and well-being. Adding light to this home's interior is as vital as breaking down the barriers between the indoors and outdoors to promote recovery and restore energy. The house will see all-new, modern, energy-efficient windows and doors. Each wall that faces the backyard will soon include glass, french doors. Opening up to nature will allow this lovely family to soak up Vitamin D, breathe in the mountain air, find peace, play, and entertain.

Before we get to the kitchen, I'm especially excited about the fireplace transformation. It was a bit of a monstrosity as-is with a dated, tile surround and protruding seat on both sides. In keeping with the modern feel, it will keep its height (probably over 200 feet tall), but all the walls and built-ins around it are coming out around it to create a simple, double-sided columnar fireplace floating in the middle of the room. The plan is to trowel-finish it with concrete. Oh, I can't wait for the back doors to be open, a breeze running through with the living room fireplace roaring.

I'm especially excited to talk about this kitchen. The size and configuration were acceptable, but the cabinets and tile countertops were tired. The original placement of the window seems off-center at first, but when you look out, you'll notice the awe-inspiring mountain is front and center. It must stay!

Before: The original kitchen Photo by Denise Butler Photography

Demo Day!

doTERRA Essential Oils, along with healthy eating, of course, is a top priority for this space, so we started there. I have seen first-hand the Fante's collection of essential oils. Goodness, it's to-die-for! I know Jenna doesn't like a cluttered kitchen, so I knew they needed a unique cabinet to house their oils. After all, it was their oil business that is funding this house. The oils should be featured!

The kitchen design plan with the doTERRA cabinets pops in natural wood.

The base cabinets will be a flat black to ground the space, and the uppers will be white, so they blend in with the white walls on the vaulted ceiling. The high ceilings create such a grand feeling. The doTERRA oil cabinet will be an oak-stained wood. I not only wanted that cabinet inspired by nature, but I also wanted it to stand out. The doTERRA cabinet mimics a china cabinet consisting of a lower bank of drawers and an upper bank of cabinets. We'll add lighting inside so that you can see the oils through the glass doors.

Thankfully, the wall between the kitchen and the family room isn't load-bearing, so the island will get to float. Bar stools will tuck away nicely under the gorgeous countertop. The countertop is mainly white with beautiful wood-colored and black veining. We opted to use this up the backsplash to keep clean lines. Jenna's thrilled to bring in a sleek, induction cooktop to the island along with two ovens. They host large family gatherings, so the appliances need to deliver.

This transformation is quite special. If you've been following along, my beautiful clients initially didn't want a fixer, but here we are. (Click here for House of Oils: Finding the Dream Home.) I couldn't be happier for them to create a home that matches their energy, their spirit, and their zest for living a life on their terms. This is what home is all about.

Photo by Whimsee Photography

I'm very excite to share that we'll be getting to hear directly from the homeowner, Jenna Fante, now and then about the process of remodeling her family home. Keep reading to get Jenna's Perspective.

What an emotional process this has been. From the day my husband decided we needed to move, I have been wrangling with emotions. I wasn’t at all ready to sell our house to begin with. Even though it ultimately wasn’t what we wanted to stay in, I just wasn’t in the place to even think about moving. But he wore me down. ;) As soon as I succumbed, I decided if we were going to move, it would be to our forever home (I hate that term, by the way. It seems so over-emotional, which I actually am not).

We didn’t need to move. It was a want. We had everything we needed. So this next house needed to be everything we wanted for our future. I do not like the process of selling/buying and moving, so I wanted this to be our last move. Yes, at 36 years old I wanted to buy my very last primary residence. You see, I believe in the power of your surroundings. I believe it’s important to surround ourselves with good people, people more educated than us, more loving than us, and more successful than us. The people you surround yourself with impact who you are. I believe that same is true with where we live. It’s not just the house, but it’s the neighborhood and the feeling. It’s the energy, the vibe of the home and its surroundings. Those things impact me and my family and I wanted to create the environment we’ve always wanted.

As Christina has said, we originally didn’t want a fixer upper. I was really against it all-together. But, we couldn’t find what we wanted. We would find homes that could work, but all of them required a bit of concession on one thing or another. And the homes we did put offers on, still needed some amount of investment to bring them current. So when this house popped up, we were willing to see it with different eyes.

This was the only house that we could see as something totally different. I’ve never walked though a house and was able to say, “if you could change this or move that.” With this house, we just saw it - clear as day. We saw how we could make it an extension of ourselves, like we’ve always wanted. Our main vision is exactly how Christina described it when she said we wanted to “break down the barriers between the indoors and outdoors to promote recovery and restore energy". She really gets us and we are so thankful for her vision for this home as well. We could not do this project without her insight. Actually, having her on our team was the only reason we could entertain a fixer upper.

Maybe it’s tearing it all down and having a say in every single thing that goes back up. Maybe it’s knowing that we will be grounded for good, never looking for something more. Maybe it’s the nature we are enveloped in and just feeling good being here. We’ve worked so hard to be able to create a space like this. Where our kids can be kids, run and play in the grass, explore (we’ve got snakes!), and have space to create. I guess that’s it, when I get down to it. We are creating this home to allow us creative freedom, no, to foster more creativity than we ever had, and to encourage our children to do the same. Because we will feel good in this space. It will be restorative and welcoming. It will be our sanctuary. That is why I cry every time Christina writes about this process.








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