An EcoSmart fireplace, powered with denatured alcohol, frames the front entry and adds definition to the living space

Eventually, the architect was able to persuade the couple to change tracks—a task made easier by the fact that Badria had always wanted an open, contemporary-style home—and work within the existing footprint of the house. The result is a clean-lined, modern expanse full of light, with easy access to the picturesque, quarter-acre yard and nearby Lake Barcroft.
Columns and soffits delineate the family room area from the rest of the space.
Charalambous began by opening up the entryway, replacing the traditional, curved stairwell with a straight, open-backed staircase of oak treads and white-painted steel railings intended “to let light come through.” Instead of a solid wall at the top of the stairs, a steel railing imparts a contemporary feel. A newly widened hallway runs along the staircase to the back of the house, which has been dramatically transformed into a large, airy living space delineated by columns and dropped ceilings that, says the architect, “are all about defining the area and differentiating space.”
The simple lines of the staircase, with its metal railings and oak treads, reflect the sleek, minimalist effect architect Andreas Charalambous was after.

Charalambous’ innovative design decisions all reflected his goal of creating an open environment. He raised the family room’s sunken floor to establish the sense of an uninterrupted plane. Windows now line the whole rear wall of the home, admitting light as well as views of nature. A 10-foot-wide EcoSmart fireplace has replaced the traditional hearth; it separates the main seating area from the front hall without obstructing the light or creating a barrier.

Dark wenge and glossy white-lacquered cabinetry combine with white Silestone countertops to create a striking, streamlined kitchen.

Furnishings are light and contemporary, occupying the space without dominating it. A wide, wrap-around deck with cable railings offers access to the outdoors with a virtually unobstructed view.

While he removed most of the walls on the main floor, Charalambous left the wall that separates the front hall from the kitchen intact to provide a visual and structural anchor. He painted the wall brick red, then added red and burnt-orange accents throughout the house “to animate the space.”
The before view of the staircase.

For owner Badria Aziz, the kitchen was the most important part of the renovation. The couple, who owns an engineering and management-consulting firm, has family and friends over all the time. “I love to cook,” Badria says, “so I needed a space I enjoy being in.” Traditional cabinetry made way for a striking combination of dark wenge and glossy white-lacquer cabinets and Silestone countertops. The island was extended to include a table-height section big enough to seat five. Charalambous took down upper cabinets along the outside kitchen wall, substituting an extended bay window. He eliminated the large pantry cupboard, which blocked the kitchen from the formal dining room, then installed cabinetry on the wall opposite the window. Nearly transparent shades let in light while softening the lines of the room.

The dining room connects to the kitchen as well as the front entryway.

The final component of the project was the basement, which the Azizes envisioned as a party and recreation area, with a media center, bar and plenty of space for large gatherings. As you descend the staircase, “it feels like you’re going to a basement but you’re definitely not,” Charalambous says. “It’s very unexpected.” The stairs lead to a landing with an exercise room off to the left; turn the corner and the staircase widens to reveal an imposing space with 18-foot ceilings (made possible by the steep slope on which the house is built). Spare, contemporary furnishings echo the reds and oranges from upstairs. A concrete-topped gas fireplace occupies the center of the room.
The before view of the family room.
Two stories of windows flank one side of the prodigious basement-turned-party room, with a gas fireplace in the middle.


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