This is a series of blog posts describing the houses on the 4th annual Hearth & Home Kitchen Tour of Westfield and Mountainside homes. For information and to purchase tickets for the tour, visit the website at htisnj.com.
This Mediterranean style farm house villa was renovated in 2011 by Christian and Marie Olguin. The original structure, built in the 1940’s, was a concrete block warehouse and used as a storage facility prior to its recent rebirth.
The “new” home took one year to complete and was the idea and design of the homeowners in collaboration with Thomas Digiorgio Architecture.
The philosophy behind this project was to seek an opportunity to renovate an existing commercial structure into a residential property, incorporating as much of the original architecture and materials as possible and adding in, where necessary, reclaimed, reconstituted, and “green” materials to achieve a modern home.
Christian and Marie, a former owner of Halo Salon, chose Westfield for this project after working together in town for the past ten years. They will be opening their new salon "Space", a salon and center for well being, at 312 South Ave in November. The homeowners not only succeeded in achieving their goal through this renovation, but surpassed it beyond expectations.
Under the direction of builder Enrico Pigna, of A. Pigna and Son, the original footprint of the building was used for the new structure, reconfiguring the internal space and adding windows and doors for optimum accessibility, light and exposure. The 6-foot casement windows on the western side of the house were raised for better functionality and framed with reconstituted brick to add structure and design. The brick framing is a signature detail of the house and can be seen on all the windows and doors, both inside and out. The roof was removed and replaced providing more openness to the interior space and character to the exterior of the home.
The walls and ceilings of the house are concrete with a stucco exterior and are insulated with spray cell insulation which is environmentally friendly and more efficient than traditional fiberglass. The house is heated by a radiant floor heating system installed in the concrete slab and air conditioned by a high efficiency European Unico system. The grounds have been recently landscaped using boulders that existed on the property and greenery that is hearty, decorative and also provides for privacy.
The main entrance to the house is marked by the 8-foot custom made doors from Austin, Texas, which are made of hickory wood with metal ornamentation typical of Mexico or the Southwest. The floor is constructed of handmade terracotta tiles, antiqued, stained and installed by the homeowners in a Riviera pattern throughout the main floor, with a fleur de lis pattern that highlights the kitchen space. The kitchen is truly the heart of the house with 27-foot high ceilings that are spanned by beautifully restored exposed barn wood trusses – a favorite characteristic of the homeowners.
Keeping the objective of the project in mind, the kitchen is a compilation of materials and appliances, including the cabinets, farmhouse sink, faucet, and granite, that were purchased from the Plain and Fancy showroom through Green Demolitions, a non-profit organization that recycles luxury kitchen, bath and architectural items to rehabilitate people in recovery.
The cabinets purchased as a single “U” shaped enclosed kitchen, were divided and complementary pieces were added to expand the kitchen area and to integrate additional storage, a warming drawer and a double dishwasher into the design plan.
An antique Bakers’s rack, from 1870 France, helps to finish and define the kitchen space along with the custom designed island table made by Amish carpenters of reclaimed barn wood and designed by Gypsy Farmhouse of Cedar Grove. The chandeliers in the kitchen are reproductions of 18th century Italian chandeliers by Curry and Company.
The design and décor of the house is greatly influenced by the homeowners’ travels to the American Southwest, Mexico and Italy and has been enhanced by artistic and architectural pieces from these regions. Together these elements succeed in creating a modern space with old world warmth and charm uniquely its own.
In addition to the main living space and kitchen, the first floor consists of a guest bedroom/reiki room with full bath, master bedroom suite, laundry room and single car attached garage. A center stair leads to the second floor loft which houses two additional guest bedrooms with a hall bath, a living area, and a fully equipped sound and music studio which combines home with work for Christian and his band, Sleepless Saints. The loft overlooks the kitchen and is encircled by a wrought iron railing system, built by Cusumano Perma rail of Roselle Park, which runs the length of the loft and leads you back to the heart of home - the kitchen.
Contributed by Daria MacDonald, a Westfield resident and past president of Holy Trinity Interparochial School Home & School Association.