A TASTE OF HOME – Kitchen Remodel
REMODEL’S FOCUS ON KITCHEN FULFILLS RETURN TO ITALIAN HERITAGE
LILLIAN COX – SPECIAL TO THE U-T
Laura and Jorge Ramirez, proprietors of Trattoria Positano in Cardiff, remodeled the kitchen of their Encinitas home so they could comfortable entertain family and friends. EDUARDO CONTRERAS U-T
About four years ago, interior designer Kelley Cozzolino traveled to Cardiff from here home in Henderson, Nev., to remodel a beach house owned by a friend. After work, she’d drop by Trattoria Positano, in the heart of Cardiff, for a bite to eat.
“The atmosphere was welcoming and inviting, and I didn’t feel self-conscious about eating alone,” she recalled. Conversation was easy with proprietors Laura and Jorge Ramirez, who took an interest in her work and expressed a desire to update their 1980s-era tract home. They had purchased the Encinitas home in 1999, but the pressures of being newlyweds and raising two young children while launching a restaurant left little time to remodel.
Laura Ramirez was the youngest of three girls raised in their parents’ restaurant outside of Positano on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. She was embarrassed that the kitchen in her home was small and inadequate to properly entertain family and friends for special occasions, something that was especially painful for her during the holiday season.
“I wanted to give Laura and Jorge a kitchen where they could work side-by-side preparing meals and also update their home with a look that they and their guests would enjoy,” said Cozzalino, who works in both California and Nevada.
By the end of 2011, the Ramirezes were ready to embark on the remodel and hired Cozzolino. She recruited Encinitas architect Sam Chereskin, whom she worked with on the remodel of her friend’s Cardiff beach house, and Gianni D’Addazio, owner of Sun Coast Construction Inc., who received kudos from the Ramirezes for renovations he made to their restaurant.
The team began by addressing Laura Ramirez’s concerns about the entry to the 2,500 square-foot home. She was uncomfortable that the living room was immediately to the right as people entered the front door.
Interior designer Kelley Cozzolino suggested creating a grand dining room by moving it into the space that was the living room near the front entry. EDUARDO CONTRERAS U-T
“In Italy, you don’t walk into the living room right away,” Ramirez explained. “I asked Kelley if she could do something about that.”
Cozzolino came up with the bold plan to merge the living room with the family room in the rear of the house adjacent to the patio door and kitchen. The dining room was moved to the space previously occupied by the living room near the front entry. Additional windows in the family and dining rooms allow for more natural light and a feeling of openness.
To add drama, open up the dining room and create a foyer, Chereskin designed custom columns on 36-inch-tall half walls. He also reconfigured the enclosed, carpeted staircase with new metal railings and spindles, and wooden steps with a carpeted runner.
Upgrades were made to the children’s bedrooms and bathroom, as well as the master suite. Arches were added to the standard walk-in closet with sliding doors, which was also expanded to accommodate custom cabinets, built-in drawers and shoe racks.
The panoramic view of the rolling hills of Olivenhain, San Marcos and the mountains beyond was the selling point of the home. It was the reason that the Ramirezes were willing to endure the time and expense of a major remodel instead of moving. Therefore, Cozzolino reasoned that more people could appreciate the view if the kitchen was extended to the full length of the rear of the house.
“We wanted to bring the outside in, which you would find in an Italian villa,” she said. “The main focus was to create a kitchen with an area to cook along with a buffet and kitchen nook. A French door was added in the kitchen, which made it easy to go back and forth to the barbeque for outdoor cooking.”
A kitchen hutch, constructed in the space previously occupied by the dining room, serves as a butler’s pantry when entertaining and provides extra storage for special china and pottery. State-of-the-art appliances include a built-in Sub-Zero refrigerator with custom fronts that match the cabinets and a Wolf professional oven range. A wall oven increased Laura Ramirez’s ability to accommodate large gatherings and holiday parties. The remodel also included a dry wine rack and cold wine refrigerator, as well as a prep sink and appliance garage.
Architect Sam Chereskin and builder Gianni D’Addazio created a three-foot-high wall with columns and archways to add drama while creating a foyer without closing off the dining room. Additional windows flood the area with light. EDUAREDO CONTREREAS U-T
Today, Ramirez says she looks forward to returning home each evening to the sight of her two children relaxing on the couch near the fireplace in the family room. She also relishes the luxurious new kitchen just a few steps away.
“When I am making food, I look around and it is perfect,” she said. “I always used to say ‘When I get a good kitchen, I’ll cook all the time.’ Finally I am doing what I was dreaming. I’m taking care of my family.”
Lillian Cox is an Encinitas-based writer who has been covering North County for the Union-Tribune since 2002.