The Hearth is the Center of This Idaho Home

A contemporary kitchen design stole these homeowners’ hearts and became the impetus for a much-needed remodel.

After living in their beloved Boise home for 18 years, this couple knew they didn’t want to move. Instead, they wanted to start reimagining their spaces to better fit their lifestyle and the interests they hold so dear.

The original design was dark, outdated, and not quite optimized to host friends and family in an efficient way. It also didn’t showcase the owners’ personalities.

“We didn’t spend a lot of time in these rooms,” the homeowners say, “because [the rooms] just didn’t feel comfortable.” With a lovely patio and the Boise River just steps from their backyard, the owners found that they also never enjoyed the outdoor living space because it was not easily accessible from the existing layout—but all that was about to change.

While traveling and visiting the Arclinea showroom in Paris, a contemporary kitchen design stole these homeowners’ hearts and became the impetus for the much-needed remodel of their gathering spaces. In addition to drawing inspiration from this sleek Italian culinary space, the design team also incorporated the owners’ background in the mining industry, passion for cooking and entertaining, and a penchant for the works of Ernest Hemingway and Frank Lloyd Wright.

The result is a livable masterpiece with striking features that double as works of art, structural changes that infuse the home with an abundance of natural light, and a more intuitive flow from the indoors to the outdoor living space—encouraging this couple to fully enjoy their home and share it with the people they love.

When you see the before and after photography, you won’t believe it’s the same house. Take a tour of the complete overhaul below.

Kitchen before:

The original kitchen’s dark wooden cabinets didn’t do any favors to the minimal natural light.

The cooking spaces felt distinctly separate from the dining and gathering spaces—not ideal for a couple that loves to entertain.

Kitchen after:

The new galley-style kitchen is oriented toward the other gathering areas, creating a holistic space between the kitchen, wine bar, and living room. Cabinets flank either side with a warm gray melamine finish, and white upper cabinets hover over Carrara marble for visual relief.

Pendant lights add depth and warmth to offset the overhead piece, which serves as a spot for dishes, pots and pans, and grow lights for small plants and herbs.

The space is beaming with bright, natural light thanks to the expansion of the back window wall.  A light-grain oak table sits connected to the kitchen’s main stainless-topped island, allowing for numerous spaces to host and chat with guests while preparing a meal.

Pantry before:

The original pantry was accented by a dated wooden frame and stored food and extra serveware.

Pantry after:

The food and dish storage was integrated into the main kitchen design, leaving the original pantry space to be reimagined into a more intimate extension of the kitchen—a place to pop in and prepare a drink, glance at a cookbook, and select glassware. Smoky antique glass and floating shelves adorn the wall over the counter next to abundant wine storage.

The wife is a Hemingway scholar and affectionately named the pantry-turned-wine-room “Harry’s Bar”—Hemingway’s favorite watering hole in Venice. This custom door is crafted of wine barrels and boxes from a close friend’s restaurant.

Wine bar before:

The original space adjacent to the pantry included a built-in desk and cabinets. The couple wanted a wine bar in this spot instead.

Wine bar after:

The fresh, new bar space features a custom glass display for glassware, a wine refrigerator, and more storage. While pouring a glass, the couple can admire their Matisse print, highlighted above the counter.

The wine bar allows for seamless integration between the pantry, kitchen, and living spaces. A built-in peninsula serves as a natural outcropping of the wine bar, inviting guests and loved ones to rest their glasses as they mingle.

Living space before:

The couple reports never using the doors to the patio or even the living space as a whole because nothing felt intuitive or inviting.

The original back wall featured outdated cascading windows.

The original fireplace was about to get a serious makeover.

Living space after:

The windows on the back wall of the living space were completely redone. Elevated glazing and transom windows invite even more light into the space.

The remodel’s pièce de résistance is the jaw-dropping fireplace, serving as both a warm place to gather and as a large-scale work of art. The original firebox was slightly moved and enlarged with plans to make it the focal point of the space—inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s notion that the hearth is the center of the home. The couple had recently sold their mining company and wanted their fireplace to resemble the opening of a cave. Quartzite adds another level of organic texture to the steel and concrete—a lovely complement to the sleek, contemporary kitchen.

Patio before:

A flat canvas hung over the home’s previous patio and would droop with wind, rain, or snow.

Patio after:

A new canopy structure was created with upward-angled protective glass, shielding patio-goers from UV rays and the elements while keeping views intact. The flagstone chosen for the patio paving is not only an indigenous material to the area, but it also boasts various colors and irregular shapes, which echo Frank Lloyd Wright designs. The centrally located doors open to a contemporary fire feature, clad in the same multi-color flagstone as the patio.

Library before:

The original library and seating area was closed off and lacking in inspiration. While the homeowners wanted to open up the space, they also wanted to obstruct the view of the staircase beyond.

Library after:

The wife’s new library design features built-in bookshelves and a window seat for maximum literary enjoyment. A stained-glass accent wall adds another hint of Frank Lloyd Wright style and hides the view of the staircase without inhibiting light and openness.

A craftsperson and steelworker were commissioned to create the stained-glass wall, which provides both form and function. Nine steel panels were incorporated into the design to increase its durability for when energetic grandchildren come to visit.

The wife enjoys a lightweight library ladder and a custom desk surrounded by her favorite books and oriented toward the other side of the show-stopping hearth.

Dining room before:
Dining room after:

Minimal changes were made to the original dining room besides lightening up the color palette, relocating a light fixture from the original kitchen design, and allowing the stained glass and library beyond to make the room worlds more inviting.

“Now every room has a space and makes you feel comfortable,” the homeowners say. “When you have a lot of people over, they all feel comfortable, too. We definitely use these spaces much more than we did before—and we’ve been in the house a long time.”



Suzie Hall, ASID, LEED AP ID+C, is the President and Principal Designer of Cornerstone Design, an interior design firm based in Boise, Idaho, that has been designing beautiful spaces for 27 years.

Content for this article provided by Cornerstone Design.

Categories: Contemporary Homes