Whether you ask Nate Mall about the trim work, fireplace mantel or unique railing, he has all the answers. That’s because in the custom-designed house he shares with his wife, Darlene, he took on interior carpentry work himself.
The maple and stainless steel cable railings alone took him three months to complete, Darlene pointed out.
The process of building their home began after the couple bought the country property five years ago.
“I knew I wanted a center-entrance house with an open floor plan, inspired by the Mission style but with a modern twist. I like that Mission is kind of a classic look, that it’s timeless. That’s what I was going for. I didn’t want a house that you would look at and say, ‘Oh, that was built in 1980 or 1990,’ ” said Nate, who hired award-winning Southtowns architect Jay Braymiller.
Among the features: a large kitchen opening to a living room with coffered ceiling and two-sided gas fireplace; window bump-outs that take advantage of the magnificent views and create more visual interest on the home’s exterior; a “switchback” stair design that enabled a small third-floor “lookout” space to be created; and a large mudroom – complete with stall shower.
“When you do these custom houses, like this one, they are truly custom. It is laid out to fit their lifestyle, how they like to entertain, and as detailed as how they deal with their dogs on a daily basis,” Braymiller said.
Throughout the home, contemporary lighting fixtures dazzle, while a color scheme is a study in contrasts – with bold accents juxtaposing with soft neutrals.
That’s where color whiz Jason R. Kruszka of Kruszka Interiors enters the picture.
“The impact of color comes from the neutral background. I took a minimal approach to how much bold color was used. It’s a less-is-more approach,” said Kruszka, who not only coordinated the colors but actually painted them on the walls.
Furthermore, he said, “when you are dealing with an open floor plan, the colors need to enhance one another.”
The kitchen is painted Starry Night, a brownish color by Ralph Lauren that looks black at night. An accent wall in the eating area, however, is a pale yellow color called Climbing Lily, also by Ralph Lauren. Another accent wall – this one Benjamin Moore Black – can be found in the master bedroom. The other walls are white.
Most striking is the orangey Terracotta Pot by Ralph Lauren on the front wall of the home, near the stairs. Nearby neutrals include Farrow & Ball’s String No. 8, a delicate tan in the upstairs hallway, and Mizzle No. 266 – think evening mist – in the entryway. The trim work throughout is painted white with a grayish tint to match the frames of the Marvin Integrity windows.
• Working with a kitchen designer, the couple went with an open plan that features a combination of white painted maple cabinets on the wall and dark-stained cherry cabinets on the island. Also found here: granite countertops in the working areas, stainless countertop on the dining side of the island, stainless appliances, farm sink, oil-rubbed bronze hardware and a backsplash of glass, stainless and stone.
• In the living room, a slate gray modular sofa has a low profile, so as not to obstruct window views. Also found in this room: burgundy leather chairs, a trunk that belonged to Nate’s grandfather and a wool rug in a blend of ivory, grays and black.
While the couple did not share how much they have invested in the house, they noted that they saved a bundle by having Nate do interior carpentry work – although they did hire framer John Kruszka (no relation to Jason Kruszka) and other professionals along the way.
“I’ve always been handy and can visualize how something is going to look,” said Nate, who owns Axent, a landscaping business.
He was helped by his father and a woodworking friend, and referred to books and websites.
The couple also bargain-shopped for fixtures, furnishings and more, noted Darlene, a self-employed court reporter.
A bathroom vanity came from Mr. 2nds bargain outlet; a guest bedroom set from Big Lots. Decorative accessories – including whimsical animal accents throughout – were found at stores such as Pier 1, Target and T.J. Maxx. Lighting and other purchases came from DirectBuy.
There’s still work to be done, including landscaping. But the bulk of the project is behind them.
“A good project always starts with a good client, and they were great to work with. Nate challenged my ideas, which always makes the project better. It really is a collaboration between the architect and the homeowner – and the site. In this case, I think we hit some real high notes,” Braymiller said.