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What Orlando Has In Store For The Londo Lodge Kitchen And 5 Debates He Wants Your Feedback On

The kitchen at Londo Lodge, my home near Yosemite, was one of the main reasons I bought it. The house sits in an area where most of the homes are either small cabins that have been owned by city dwellers for decades, full-size homes for full-time residents, and a few larger homes that are used as vacation rental homes. My goal for Londo Lodge is to eventually just have it as a vacation home to share with my friends and family. But my plan for the foreseeable future is to rent it out on Airbnb to help pay for all the renovations I want to do to make it into my dream home. I’ve been fixing it up continuously since I got it in October 2020. But the first true renovation on the docket is the kitchen. 

I’m prioritizing the kitchen for a few reasons. Firstly, I’m convinced that the kitchen really sets the tone for the rest of the house and has the ability to make the whole home feel higher-end when renovated correctly. When I updated my parents’ Sonoma County kitchen years ago, it changed their house from feeling like a dated, suburban house into a beautiful, sophisticated place. I don’t plan on selling Londo Lodge soon (or ever, really) but every realtor out there will tell you, to renovate your kitchen and bathrooms first if you want your home’s value to go up.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp

As I’ve said before, the kitchen is actually FINE as-is. But I didn’t buy this house because I loved the style. I bought this house because it was an incredible deal. It’s 3000 sq/ft and it was $590,000, which is what a house about half that size would cost in my town today. That probably sounds crazy to anyone who doesn’t live in California but yeah, it’s expensive here! I’ve always been a fan of the “buy the ugliest house in a nice neighborhood” ethic – the idea that you get more value if you buy something that’s not turnkey but has the potential to be beautiful. 

I never met the sellers of this house, but I can tell they were the kind of people who loved gathering in the kitchen – it’s a space designed for many people to be in it at the same time without getting in each other’s way. And I think it’s a really nicely designed kitchen. When it was new in 1992, I’m sure it was top of the line. The appliances are fancy for the time, it has a lot of space, and it just feels really nice in there.

Before I get to my plans for the kitchen, I need to explain my master plan for the house. The eventual plan is to convert the current garage into a new, large-scale living room, add a mudroom off the front of the house, and build a garage on the right side of the house. Now if you look at the elevation of the front of the house with that addition, it’s a bit awkward. But the saving grace is that it’s actually very hard to see the whole house from the outside. It’s mostly blocked by trees, especially from the road. So while I’d love to have the exterior of the house make sense, I think swapping out doors and windows, adding some wood accents, and changing the siding to a shingle, it’s going to look a lot more historic and romantic than it does now. 

The Dream Renovation Plan

This angle of the house shows what the exterior looked like when I moved in. I’ve since painted it a luscious, rich blue (Goodnight Moon by Clare) and that’s completely changed the way it feels – it looks a lot more elegant now. Basically, my stylistic issue with my plan is that I’m going to basically be tacking a ranch house onto a two-story box. But I’ve gone over a number of different concepts (adding a second floor everywhere, putting the garage in the back of the house, and so on) and none of them make as much sense or are as cost-effective as just making the garage into a living room and plopping a garage on the end of the house. Is it a beautiful and perfect front elevation? No. But will it give me the interior spaces I want? Yes. And I think it’s going to be so hard for people to actually stand back and see the whole thing because of the woods that I don’t think the awkward design would be that noticeable.

The eventual vibe I’m going for is a combination of Craftsman and Cape Cod styles. Rather than feeling like you’re walking into a 90s box when you arrive, I want people to feel like they’re coming into a home built in 1929, the year the house in Yosemite Valley where I grew up was built. Of course, there are going to be some giveaways that it’s a newer build, but the overall goal is to just make this feel like a place with some history. And luckily, the architecture is rectangular and simple enough that re-skinning everything should make it look vastly different. Again, I don’t want any historic preservationists coming for me being like “well technically that’s not the kind of joinery you’d see in a 1929 Craftsman!” The point is to create a home that tells a romantic story. If I wanted to create an actually historically accurate Craftsman home I would have to start from scratch and that’s way out of my budget.

A lot of friends and designers who have seen the house have been like “why not just make it super modern since it has all these contemporary lines?” And the answer to that is that I am not really attracted to contemporary spaces. While I love beautiful, modern cabins like Emily’s, my association with homes in the woods is that they are old, historic spaces like the homes me and my friends grew up in Yosemite. Plus, quite frankly, I think it’s a lot harder to create a truly timeless look when going modern in a cabin. The goal here is to create spaces that will look just as inviting and relevant in twenty years as they look when they’re freshly remodeled.

The footprint of the kitchen is not gonna change much. As I said, I really like how the space feels and generally how it’s laid out. The main differences are that I’m adding an exterior door (which will eventually become a hallway when the home’s addition gets built), I’m moving the range to the wall where the refrigerator sits, and I’m building an entire (beautiful) refrigeration wall where the broom closet and cabinets are currently.

Okay, sorry if all that was boring! I just needed to explain the backstory because some of the above facts impact how I designed the kitchen. Let’s see what the actual plans are!

The Overall Kitchen Design Plan

The style I am going for the house is historic and traditional. Often, people tell me they think my style is “clean and modern” but I have always been a lot more attracted to historic homes than to modern ones. For my dream house, I want something that feels like it has some age and history. One of the things I noticed after moving into the house was that the kitchen has a LOT of cabinets. Like borderline too many cabinets. Especially for a vacation house. I’m not sure I’ll ever live in this house full-time again so I know I definitely don’t need that many cabinets. Half of them currently have nothing in them. So my first decision was to get rid of the upper cabinets on the east side of the house and replace them with windows. For a home in the woods, this house has a perplexing lack of windows and doors, almost as if to keep you away from the outdoors. A goal is to make the property a more integrated outdoor/indoor experience.

The Range Wall

Before I even closed on the house, I reached out to Bertazzoni to pitch the kitchen to them. I was honestly surprised when they agreed to sponsor (i.e. send appliances in exchange for a set of deliverables) because they’d already sponsored my parent’s kitchen and my LA chateau’s makeovers. Most brands will engage with an influencer once, but after they’ve done so they’re kind of over you – they’ve gotten what they need out of you (your audience’s eyeballs). But I’ve met the actual Bertazzoni’s. It’s a family company and they’re pretty loyal to their partners, so I was delighted to get to work with them again (especially because I’ve been coveting my mom’s Heritage Range ever since she got it). Quite frankly, without the Bertazzoni sponsorship, this kitchen would NOT be possible so I am VERY thankful for it.

Range

I can’t even believe this gorgeous range is going in my new kitchen. Like I feel oddly not worthy. I’m doing the Bertazzoni Heritage Range (that’s the brass accents all over). The Metalli accents also come in copper and black, but I loved how warm the gold was. The color I’m going with is Avorio, which is a warm ivory that is going to set the tone for the color palette of the whole room. 

I’m also doing the matching Heritage Range Hood with Metalli accents. It has a hang bar at the back and I may do something SHOCKING with it: hang pots! But probably only if I get really cute copper pots and pans to hang there that I will get mad if anyone touches unless they sign a contract agreeing to polish them once finished. Hi, I like looking at pretty things and I like things to be perfect all the time. SO SUE ME!

The Tile Choices! (And Orientation Question)

Wall Tile

Behind the hood and the range, the walls will be tiled with Fireclay Tile’s Chaine Homme (the color is “Mist.” Because of all the cabinetry, appliances, and windows, there actually isn’t a lot of wall space in this kitchen. So I decided to just tile all the way up to the ceiling around the room. I used Chaine Homme in the Orcondo kitchen years ago and I have always loved it. And I wanted to bring in some color while keeping everything light and airy, so I decided to go with a faint version of a color I’ve been using all over the house since I moved in (it’s kind of a gray-blue-green).

Floor Tile

For the flooring, I’m going with another Fireclay Tile. It’s their Brick in the 2.5” x 8” proportion (in the color White Mountains). My original idea was to do this in a weave pattern, but the brand doesn’t technically advise that because the tiles are designed to be irregular and organic (meaning some tilers will have a problem with keeping a grid pattern because the tiles have slightly varying lengths and widths). This is because they’re handmade, which is the whole point and makes them feel a lot more earthy. As of now, my plan is to stagger them but I also LOVE what my friend Shavonda did in her kitchen, which was the pattern I was originally thinking of. Yes, there’s a little bit of a rustic, organic edge to it. But I like how it turned out in her house. I think ultimately I’ll make the decisions based on what the tile installer seems comfortable with. Because even though Shavonda’s floor *looks* like it has a lot of random things happening in it, you can tell it was done by someone who knows what they’re doing and intentionally created the kind of line variation she has.

DEBATE #1: How should I lay the floor tile?

  1. Stagger it
  2. Lay it in a weave pattern
  3. Straight stack it

The Island (And Prep Sink Debate)

I love the amount of prep space in the current kitchen and didn’t want to lose any of it. So I plan to keep an island in the middle of the room. But I wanted it to feel more like a piece of furniture than a cabinet, so I’m having Justin, a longtime friend and the carpenter from my show “Build Me Up”, build me a custom, large island out of white oak. Originally I contemplated doing a chop block top or just wood, but I decided that I wanted something a little more resilient because I will be renting this place out. 

The plan is to have the island sit off the floor about 6” so it feels lighter and more open. The island is going to have a sink so there will likely be some piping that goes through the bottom of the island, but it won’t be visible from most places because the sink itself will be far enough in that you’d have to be pretty close/low to see the pipes. 

DEBATE #2: Should I buy a bigger sink?

Now, here’s where another debate item comes in. Originally, I simply wanted to replace the bar sink in the current island with another bar sink. So I ordered the very cute Porto Fino bar sink from Kohler and called it a day. But the longer that sink sits in my garage, the more it haunts me that it may end up feeling too small once installed. 

In my parent’s kitchen, we installed a beautiful bar sink thinking that’s where we’d put the water filtration system. We ended up NOT doing that (I can’t really remember why) so then we ended up with a smaller sink that had a stationary faucet. It is fine unless we’re all over there cooking and we want two sinks that are fully functional for cooking and washing dishes. The thing that ended up being wrong with my mom’s sink is that we wanted a pull-down faucet so we could rinse things down the drain (for some reason we had the foresight to put a disposal in that sink but not the foresight to put a pull-down faucet). So my mom actually has added a spout that pivots to this faucet (don’t be mad, Kallista! It doesn’t look half bad!). But that whole experience taught me that if you have sinks in your kitchen, you probably are going to want them to be fully functional if you ever plan on having multiple people helping with cooking and cleaning at once. 

In sourcing my own sink, I had the foresight to choose a pull-down faucet (the beautiful Kohler Artifacts PullDown in Brushed Brass). But now I’m thinking I messed up on the size of that sink. The main sink on the window wall is the Kohler Bakersfield sink, which is 31” wide so I’m now thinking I may want to swap out the island sink for something in the 25” range like the 25” wide Glen Falls sink or something similar. 

The pros to keeping the Porto Fino sink are:

  1. I already have it
  2. I love the cute round shape and how it differentiates it from the main sink
  3. What if I never end up using that island sink to wash vegetables or do dishes?

The pros to getting a bigger sink are:

  1. It’ll be big enough to wash pots and pans
  2. It’ll be big enough to soak dishes
  3. It will be rectangular and match the shape of the main sink

What do you think?

A Wood-Fired Oven????

Okay, while we’re still on this side of the room, I want to throw another debate item at you and this one is kind of a curveball because I literally just thought of it. SHOULD I BUILD A PRETTY BUT MOSTLY DECORATIVE PIZZA OVEN/FIREPLACE THING? I’ve never put these in a kitchen for a client so I have zero experience with them, but I guess the correct term for them is “wood-fired oven.” They were common in the European kitchens of yesteryear (or yestercentury more like it). But they’re not often found in modern kitchens. For some reason, everyone who has a pizza oven puts it outside. But why let the yard have all the fun?

Here’s my thinking here. And yes, it’s going to be long-winded because I’m incapable of telling a short story. Have any of you been watching that Netflix show “The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals”? Well, I spent all week VERY SICK with food poisoning and/or salmonella (yay!) and I have watched pretty much the whole thing now. I have some notes about how absolutely bonkers the hosts’ responses to everything are but I’ll keep those to myself (oops I said it!). But it’s a fun show and the hosts are really charming even if it seems like their heads might pop off from excitement every time they walk into a new room.

photo by alexandria monette

Anyyyyywayyyy, in one episode the show went to Sunstone Winery, which is a beautiful property in Santa Ynez that looks like it’s in the Mediterranean and is a thousand years old. It’s really beautifully done and in one shot, they showed the kitchen (above). And in that kitchen was… A fireplace? A pizza oven? Both? It was a wood-fired oven. And I was like, “MA’AM! I WANT THAT!”

Now, will I ever cook a pizza in that oven? Probably not. Will I burn fires in it and feel cozy? Absolutely. I could just install a fireplace in the kitchen but I think the novelty of it actually functioning to cook is pretty fun. In the light research I’ve done, in California, you’re allowed to build a wood-burning pizza oven in a kitchen but not a regular wood-burning fireplace (I’m pretty sure you can’t put those in anywhere). Which is fine, I could just do a gas fireplace in there. But I think it would be mostly just something to look at, something that occasionally gets used, and hopefully something that leaves the faint tint of smoke and wood in the air. I just like the presence of something that feels old-world like this in the kitchen and it also would allow me to bring in another element – stone. 

So here’s my question. Is it stupid to install an indoor wood-fired oven just because I want to look at it? Even though I’d probably only make like three pizzas per year in it and maybe one loaf of bread? It could also be fun to roast marshmallows in with my niece and nephews. But mostly I’d probably just have it styled with a few logs and look at it all the time. There are companies (like this one) that make the inserts so I could just build it into a corner and pretend I live in the olden days (which sometimes I do because the power goes off a lot here and quite honestly I’d probably use this wood-fired oven to cook in those cases).

I’d also have to get rid of the appliance garage to make way for the wood-fired oven, but I think I can find another place for that. I’d probably relocate it to the space to the left of the refrigeration columns. 

design by the fox group | photo by scott davis

DEBATE #3 – Should I add a wood-fired oven just for fun and literally no other reason?

So let’s all vote. Is the wood-fired oven thing?:

  1. Totally a waste of money and cabinet space.
  2. A fun way to bring in something novel and another finish, stone!

My Grand Fridge Wall

One change I’m really excited about is the integrated refrigeration columns on the west wall of the kitchen. I wanted this kitchen to feel as old-world and warm as possible, so I am going with Bertazzoni’s Panel-Ready Built-In Columns and I could not be more excited about it. As it’s laid out now, the refrigerator will be on the right, a glass-fronted wine fridge will be in the center, and a freezer column will be on the left. Each column is 24” wide and at first, I thought that might not be enough refrigeration but once I thought about how tall the units are (83”) I realized I was gaining a lot more space than I have now with a full-size refrigerator/freezer combo. 

To the left of the refrigeration is something I really wanted in the kitchen: glass-fronted cabinets. Now, this is not something I recommend to clients most of the time. I only really recommend this to designers, stylists, and people who love arranging things. Because these cabinets will have to be expertly styled all the time or they will look terrible. But I wanted a place to store my “pretty-but-please-don’t-touch” pottery collection. I have a lot of pretty dishes and one-of-a-kind pottery I would like a place to display. And I also want a reason to start collecting more. Like a lot of you, I am obsessed with beautiful handmade pottery. Since this house will be a vacation rental, and also to add some style and charm to these cabinets, I may have the cabinet maker add those old-timey brass locks with the old-timey keys so I can make sure no one accesses these shelves when I don’t want them to. They’ll also be a source of light for that side of the room. The shelves will be glass to let light through and the shelving will be illuminated from above.

This side of the room involves one of the only real demos we’re going to have to do in here – knocking out what is currently a broom closet in the adjacent hall so I can sink all that refrigeration into that wall. I’ve had to do some drywall work in the house myself and honestly, it kind of taught me that drywall is a lot easier to work with than one would expect. 

Pretty Yet Super Durable Countertops

As I said in describing the island above, the idea with it was to make it feel like a standalone piece of furniture. One of the ways I’m planning on doing this is with the countertop. For most of the counters in the kitchen, I plan to use Cambria’s Inverness Frost. This is a REALLY beautiful new pattern from them. The technology and artistry with these countertops keeps getting more and more impressive year after year. And this particular pattern features debossed veining that makes it look impossibly real. I wanted the main counters to feel light so I’m going with a marble look everywhere except the island, where I’m using their Clare design. I’ll also likely differentiate the finishes (you can do them matte or polished) to drive home that they are two different things. And finally, I’m planning on edging them differently. For the perimeter countertops, I’m planning a more traditional profile in a 1.5” depth/thickness:

For the island, I’m looking to do something simpler like this at a ¾” thickness:

Originally I wanted the entire island, including the top, to be wood, but the more I thought about it the more I didn’t want to deal with water damage around the sink or having to be “that person” who always yelled at everyone to wipe up any moisture around the sink. 

I’ve oddly never done a non-rectangular edging on a countertop in any of my projects, so I thought this was a good opportunity to try something new.

Lighting And Some QUESTIONS

Quick note before this next discussion: that thing over the current island is NOT a skylight. It’s fluorescent lights and it kills my soul every time it’s turned on. I’ve cooked in the dark many a night rather than be bathed in that blue, blaring light of death.

Now, here’s something fun to talk about: LIGHTING. My overall plan for the house is to avoid recessed lighting anywhere in favor of having pretty, practical lights wherever possible. I have a general disdain for the way recessed lights have become a fix-all for lighting issues because they’re often installed in haphazard and careless ways. My pet peeve is going into a house and seeing a ceiling where there are recessed lights all over with no pattern or sense of symmetry. It’s as if people think just because they’re recessed, they’re invisible. So you look at many a modern ceiling and you see something that looks like swiss cheese. And the light itself is harsh and directional. Which, yes, is fine when you’re not looking at it. But oh man, when you look at it! My eyes! 

I’m not fully anti-recessed, I just wish they were installed with more care, in more intentional patterns, and with softer light. So in a room where you need lots of light to see what you’re doing, and where there are no cabinets to hide under-counter lighting in, where do you put lights? I decided to do four to six large milk glass pendants (these are from Rejuvenation but I’m not sure I’ll be able to afford them so the exact fixture is TBD). These will provide a wash of light for the whole space. And like all the lights in my home, they’ll be on a dimmer.

For the “work” lights, I’m looking at something kinda weird. Outdoor lights. I was playing around with the absolutely stunning Wildwood Sconce from Rejuvenation but unfortunately, it turned out to be way too big for the indoor application I was looking for (they’re not fully to scale in the render above, they’re a bit bigger than that in person). It might work for a bigger kitchen, but the sconce would project too much into the space and make it feel too tight.

In the renders, I’ve shown these interesting/borderline weird wall sconces from Arroyo Craftsman. Here’s what I like about them. Firstly, I love that they bring in some rustic warmth with their verdigris finish. It feels somehow appropriate for a cabin to have a nod to the outdoors here and there so the fact that they’re not indoor fixtures seems unexpected and novel to me. I also love that the green color calls back to the faint green in the wall tile. These sconces come in a number of different sizes, including one small enough that it won’t impede the workspace. And because they are meant to go outside, I think they’ll be way easier to keep clean than something with a cloth shade. Finally, they also come in a hanging pendant in the exact same proportion as the wall sconce so if I want to create a perimeter or light for working around the room, I can keep it consistent. If you’ll notice, all the scones and the two pendants of the same style are hung at the same height to give some symmetry around the room.

DEBATE #4 – Are outdoor sconces an edgy addition or will they make me look like I don’t know what I’m doing?

1. Burnham Single Light 13″ Tall Outdoor Wall Sconce | 2. Dartmouth | 3. Bryant Large Tail Sconce | 4. Glasgow GW Outdoor Wall Sconce

Okay, so here’s what I’m going back and forth on and what I need your help with. Firstly, is this idea weird in a cool way that’s like, “Oh fun, he did something inventive by using exterior lighting inside!” Or is it more like, “Does that man whose literal job it is to know, not know that that’s an exterior sconce he just put in his kitchen?” 

If I do choose an exterior sconce, should I go with something more rectangular and less edgy than the Dartmouth sconce? Maybe those would drive the Craftsman nod home a little more efficiently? Or should I go a completely different direction and go with something like the Bryant Sconce (the one with the shade) to take the kitchen in a more approachable, aspirational Nancy Meyers direction? Finally, Build.com and a number of other sites sell cheaper versions of a craftsman-style sconce. The Dartmouth is about $350 in the size I’m looking at, which adds up when you multiply it by six. While I’m really attracted to the finish of the Dartmouth, there’s something really clean about the Build.com version that may feel a bit more appropriate in a kitchen. What do you think?

If it helps with your decision, the ceiling lights I’m currently looking at are these:

Pendant Light

I love mixing in a little deco with some of the craftsman elements. Craftsman came about a little earlier (1901, Art Deco around 1910) but they coexisted for a while and I think they complement each other nicely. Which brings me to two more debates…

The Big Style Question…

DEBATE #5 – Does Art Deco go with Craftsman?

Firstly, do you think these Art Deco-inspired wedding cake pendants go with the angular-yet-still-blatantly-Craftsman Dartmouth sconces?

The second debate in this section is slightly harder to explain but I’ll try. One of my friends thought it looked weird to match the pendants over the peninsula to the sconces on the walls around the room. He thought they should match, at least stylistically, the hanging pendants on the ceiling because they are ceiling fixtures. My thinking was to match the light fixtures based on height. But I’m also a sucker for creating a system of logic in a home and sticking with it. For example, “the doors are black in this house.” Creating simple rules like that tends to put peoples’ minds at ease – people like symmetry, continuity, and cohesion. So I am very swayed by the “the pendants should match the style of the bigger ceiling pendants” argument, but I also really like how the Dartmouth pendants currently look contrasting the larger ceiling pendants. I’m not totally settled on the ceiling fixtures but I know for sure I want something large with a milk glass/white shade so that the light is soft yet abundant. So no matter what, it will be some large fixture in brass (I gotta bring in those Bertazzoni Metalli accents!) with a glass white shade/globe of some sort. 

So what do you think?

  1. Ceiling fixtures should match to create a more logical system of design for the kitchen.
  2. The Craftsman pendants that match the sconces work best because they are at the same height around the room.

Today’s Final Thoughts

Sorry, are you exhausted yet? I know I am. A few general things about this design. Firstly, I had the renderer add those beams for effect but I don’t know if they’ll actually make it into the room. My plan for the whole house is to clad the ceiling in wood, so I know I want something warm up there, but I don’t know just yet if that’s going to involve beams. The reason I’m waiting on paneling the ceiling is that I have some renovations upstairs that will involve breaking through the downstairs ceiling for piping, etc so I don’t want to do anything before then. 

Second, the style of the cabinets is likely gonna change back to a simpler shaker-style cabinet front, likely with a lot less drawers and more cabinets. The reason for the style change is really that I was just trying too hard NOT to do shaker because it’s become so ubiquitous. So I did shaker with a bead on it for these renders, which I think is really pretty but doesn’t feel as appropriate to bring into a Craftsman-ish space. As a content producer, sometimes you feel pressure to do things just so that they are noteworthy and interesting, not because you think they are actually right for the space. I want to share ideas and takeaways with people that are helpful and interesting and haven’t been seen over and over, so I was just trying to do any cabinet style aside from shaker. But shaker just makes the most sense, it’s the style of cabinet we had in the little Craftsman bungalow in Yosemite where I grew up, so I’m going with that.

I basically put drawers everywhere, which is they’re all over the rendering. And I do really love a drawer vs a cabinet. But they’re just way more expensive, so in order to afford the cabinetry I may have to nix most of the drawers in favor of more budget-friendly cabinet doors. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t bum me out, but I’m hoping if it really bothers me someday I’ll be able to replace them with drawers. 

And finally, I’m adding the door to the kitchen because the plan is to make it into a hallway that will be part of the home’s northern addition. There’s a big chance I’ll never be able to afford that. So I have to approach the design of this room with my master plan in mind, while also being mindful that it may never happen. It’s a weird feeling, not being able to renovate your house all at once. You’re constantly telling people, “well this will make sense when ____ happens!” It’s all a leap of faith that things are going to continue going in the right direction.

I’m pretty confident that I will be able to figure out how to do the full home renovation I envisioned the first time I set my eyes on Londo Lodge. But sometimes talking about it I feel foolish–like I’m somehow talking about a fantastical future that may never be. But, as with other parts of life, I think it’s good to be ambitious even if there’s the chance you’ll never meet your own grand plans. So the course I’m taking with Londo Lodge is one of tackling projects as I can afford them. It’s not always easy to keep house projects in digestible chunks, but that’s the tact I’m trying to take so I can pay for things as I go.

Will Londo Lodge ever turn into the grand, historic space I want it to? Will this kitchen turn out to be the mountain version of Coastal Grandma? Will having this kitchen turn me into a Nancy Meyers character who wears ivory cable knit sweaters, drinks white wine, and is constantly hosting giant yet effortless dinners in my home? FOLLOW ALONG WHY DON’T YOU AND FIND OUT!

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

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marta
5 days ago

I do not see the need for renovation. It is perfect right now.

Amber
4 days ago
Reply to  marta

Orlando has mentioned in previous posts that the kitchen is currently in rough shape.

Michelle
4 days ago
Reply to  marta

I do not see the need to answer an unasked question. But this was perfectly done.

4 days ago
Reply to  marta

Yes! This is such a valid comment! So, while I agree that the kitchen is TOTALLY DOABLE and really nice, it has a few issues. Firstly, the cabinets are really poor quality, they BANG when closed, and the appliances have seen better days (they’re not all functional anymore). I’m 40, I’ve been obsessed with houses my whole life and have dreamed of having one I could fix up and make my own. So this is a life milestone project, not just something I’m doing to make it prettier for renters. My goal with the house is to make it into my dream home that will hopefully become an heirloom property left to my kids (if I have them) or my niece and nephews so they’ll always have a connection to Yosemite. So I’m trying to do everything RIGHT and do it ONCE, which means that it’s more expensive and will take me longer. One example is the cabinets – I’ve had offers from lower quality companies to sponsor the cabinets but I’m going with a more expensive company because I don’t want anything I do in this house to be disposable. But yeah, it’s definitely a “because I want to”… Read more »

Bridget
1 day ago
Reply to  marta

I have a 1990s kitchen, they were not built to last! Like Orlando, I’m very environmentally conscious… I’m sure he’s replacing the poorly built cabinets with ones that will last!

Colleen
5 days ago

Such a fun post! I love your plans, Orlando. My votes:
1. Floor tiles: I love Fireclay brick tiles so much; used the glossy white Olympic as a backsplash in my last kitchen. I like how Shavonda’s floor is laid for your space. I wonder if you might want a warmer, earthier brick for the floor since everything else is lighter and cooler?
2. If you don’t think you will use it, I am not sure the pizza oven thing makes sense, but it does look interesting. (Maybe a warmer brick floor will alleviate the desire for a corner of stone fireplace.)
3. I think you want the bigger sink. That makes sense to me.
4. I love the pendant lights but am not sure about the task lighting. The beautiful Rejuvenation ones are so cool and I am sorry the size doesn’t work. Maybe you could keep looking for a drop style like that?

I love your posts and designs. Thanks for letting us amateurs chime in.

Colleen
5 days ago
Reply to  Colleen

https://www.hubbardtonforge.com/lisse-1-light-sconce-203050

There is a wonderful lighting company in Vermont called Hubbarton Forge. What do you think of this sconce? Maybe they would do a sponsorship?

Katie
4 days ago
Reply to  Colleen

I. Love. That. Sconce. I worked for a lighting company for almost a decade and Hubbarton Forge is an INCREDIBLE company. Everything is hand forged and just completely immaculate. So glad you brought this option up.

Jeanne
5 days ago

Just a couple of thoughts … nix the pizza oven, you’re not planning on living there, and when I’m on vacation, a pizza oven isn’t the first amenity on my must-have list. And get a different sink, it doesn’t have to be big enough to bathe a St. Bernard in, just more usable all around. Lots of changes, it will end up very pretty and usable.

Karen
4 days ago

Love where this is going. The column fridges must be an interior designer dream. If I had a wood oven in a kitchen, I’d use it once a week no doubt. It’s a huge kitchen and having a toy sounds great to me.

Amber
4 days ago

I find auxiliary sinks most useful when they are part of a beverage area, and then a small sink is fine. Kitchens I’ve been in with a small sink in the island mostly just get used for washing hands, which I don’t think is worth the plumbing cost. If you’re going to wash dishes, it’s more convenient to be near the dishwasher.

But while I’m all for practicality most of the time, I am completely on board with a pizza oven! When I’m on vacation, I want to do all the things I don’t normally have time to do, like cooking projects, taking a bath, etc. Pizza sounds super fun.

K
4 days ago
Reply to  Amber

I agree! If I’m looking at two rentals and one has a wood oven, that’s a vacation memory maker. Even as use for his own family… everyone will have fond memories of Uncle Orlando’s pizza, even if he burnt it 🙂

Jen
4 days ago

I vote for no sink at all in the island. Having it all for a big workspace is glorious. The in-island sinks rarely get used and break up the nice line and surface for nothing.
Love those glass front cabinets! You don’t have to be a stylist for them. Lots of people love to show off pretty things.
Lovely plans for a lovely kitchen.

Courtney
4 days ago
Reply to  Jen

Same here … too much fuss/expense to install something that likely won’t get used all that often. Just have a nice, flat island countertop where you can cook and eat!
And the pizza oven sounds fun in theory but in reality also a lot of time and money on something that won’t get used. Save the money and splurge on a few more drawers or the lighting you really want!
Overall though I love the plans for the kitchen and the whole house–I’m also more of a historic home vs. modern home type and this is going to be just beautiful.

smilla
3 days ago
Reply to  Jen

I disagree, the island will be the primary prep area and especially for multi family gatherings and rental groups it’s going to be very well used and a prep sink will be a huge benefit. This is a kitchen that’s going to draw foodies as well as design enthusiasts. Keeping the main sink/clean up station separate is smart.

4 days ago

I appreciate the extensive information you provided and the article’s relevance to the present state of interior design. If you’re interested in sharing your work, I urge you to go on the link below. Link: https://elaan-interior.com/

Jessica
4 days ago

Love your writing as always Orlando, this is going to look awesome! Love weighing in, and my two cents below.

  1. My vote goes to stagger the tile!
  2. Bigger sink always, plus I irrationally dislike round sinks. If it’s going to be used for prep, make it practical.
  3. Amber swayed me about cooking projects while on holiday, I think a pizza oven would be awesome
  4. i really like the clean lines of the build lanterns, think they are totally useful as indoor/outdoor, and I would go with matching pendants.

can’t wait to see where you end up, we’re rooting for you!

Karen
4 days ago

Oh man this is a JUICY post! And the fact that it begs for reader feedback?! JOY JOY JOY with my morning cup of coffee….. 1.) Honestly the white floor tiles make me nervous. They seem hard to “keep clean”? I would lay them in a traditional brick pattern (as shown in the rendering). And maybe a different color for some variation against the cabinets/walls? 2.) Island sink: go bigger! I have two kitchen sinks, one along the wall/near the stove (my working sink), and one in our island. Both are full-size, and it’s great, I definitely appreciate both sinks. For my island sink, I went with a single-basin. For the working sink, I went with a divided sink – this allows us to wash dishes on one side, and then we use the other side for drying (for those things that don’t go in the dishwasher). This is nice because those drying dishes are out of sight. Five years post-reno and I’m very happy with my two-sink scenario. 3.) Pizza Oven – this is so romantic! I am not sold on that suggested location though. 4/5) Honestly I’m not loving either of these ideas. Instead of exterior lights in… Read more »

Mary Robideaux
4 days ago
Reply to  Karen

Pizza oven would be so fun but not in that location. There’s only room for one person to stand in front of it; so nix the smores with the family. Also, how far can you step back if you use a long-handled implement to cook your pizza? It seems lost tucked away in the corner and loses its focus there.

Colleen
4 days ago
Reply to  Karen

He said he was going to have locks on the glass doors when it is rented. When my family has rented places, there is often a locked closet or two that holds the owners’ things that they don’t want us using.

4 days ago

Yaaay, I LOVE an Orlando post! I will give you the opinionated and decisive answers that you are sort of seeking, except they will be annoying in that they deviate from what you asked about. But maybe it’ll be helpful and if not your strong reaction against how WRONG I am will be helpfully telling, right? 😉 Here goes! Sorry, but you lay the floor tile herringbone. Yes, even though Em has told us a million times how much more it costs because of all the work to cut and lay it perfectly. It’ll look so much better long term and it never goes out of style and the size and placement with the Chaine Homme (love!) is distinct enough that it won’t be “too busy” if that’s a concern. Herringbone. No pizza oven. They’re so fun and cool, sure, but people LOOOVE and need storage, and you’re in CA of all places where stuff should be done outdoors whenever possible. Put one in for fun if you can’t resist, but make it outdoors. It’ll basically never get used indoors and is also way more of a fire risk. Not worth it, sorry to be Debbie Downer. No to the… Read more »

4 days ago

Oh crap I forgot the sink debate, definitely a bigger bar sink! Tiny sinks are so annoying and splashy and it’s worth getting slightly bigger and definitely deeper. (And I’m sorry not sorry for bringing this to your awareness but have you SEEN the deVOL brass sinks‽ Not the right size but maybe something fun like that for a bar sink exists somewhere, idk.)

Nina
4 days ago

OMG. That brass sink!!!

Lulu
3 days ago

I must have that sink!

4 days ago

Here to echo the “yes, get a pizza oven, but outside” debate. If you have renters in there pulling ash and dust and food and char out on your ivory brick floor, you will become enraged! LOL
Do it outside!

jenny
4 days ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Always love your writing, Orlando! As someone who regularly vacations in Yosemite, I totally agree — folks on vacation in the Sierras want to be outside as much as possible. Even when it’s cold, it’s fun for city-folks to be at a fire outside. I also think that during a vacation, someone might want to cook, but I’m dubious that they’ll want to figure out how to use a pizza oven. Most people won’t have used one before. You’re going to get a million texts/calls about how to use it. I agree with others — maybe focus on cool outdoor fire pit or fireplace? As basic as it sounds, most folks doing a mountain vacation are really excited about grilling hot dogs over a fire or making s’mores… xox

Kate
3 days ago
Reply to  jenny

I agree about the potential problems with having a pizza oven inside & also vote to nix it, but I disagree with having a firepit outside in a forest where wildfires are a problem, easily ignited with just a spark, & catastrophic is a definite no-go.

Katie
4 days ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Not only messy, but potentially dangerous with people who don’t know how to use it / children AND would likely increase your insurance rates!

Michelle
4 days ago

OMG I so wish I could follow your comments everywhere. I get the feeling I’d be following every one with a vigorous head bob and ‘what she said’.

4 days ago

I’m too inexperienced to comment on the other items but I say GET THE PIZZA OVEN! It’s clear it calls to your heart and could be so fun for family dinners and renters! Good luck with everything it’s stunning!

Annie
4 days ago

Orlando! I’ll follow you anywhere just to read your take on where things are at for you in a given moment. Here are my thoughts:

  1. Bertazzoni! Dream come true and that specific stove is on my wish list, so you are already winning IMO
  2. Stagger the floor tile
  3. Go with the bigger sink
  4. All of the yesses for the pizza oven
  5. Outdoor lighting – love this idea and the thought of something a little weird/unexpected. I am not such a fan of Craftsman though, so my only thought on the sconces is: don’t go with the Nancy Meyers option which would be too predictable!
  6. I love the lighting mix and would keep it as is in terms of placement and height

I can’t wait to see (and read about) how it all turns out!

4 days ago

Orlando I must say that the way you sync Bertazzoni Oven with the Kitchen theme is outstanding! I love the color selection in Kitchen Area.

Emily
4 days ago

1: I love the brick pattern in Shavonda’s kitchen. That is absolutely my vote.
2: I kind of love the idea of the pizza oven, especially for a vacation home. Maybe you can find a sponsor?!
3: Go for the bigger sink or no sink at all.
4: I don’t really care for the outdoor sconces. I think the Visual Comfort sconces you linked would be a better fit. Especially if you do the pizza oven and a more interesting floor pattern, I like a bit of calm in the sconces.

Thank you for brightening my morning Orlando 🙂

E Feeney
4 days ago

I LOVE your post! So much interesting information. I have spent time in Yosemite – its the best!
I vote for the Dartmouth scones and pendents – they are simply gorgeous and are a unique, unexpected twist to the room. The art deco pendants work well too. That combo is perfection.

I would leave the pizza oven for outside – guests will be on vacation – not sure they will want to be making gourmet pizzas.
I vote for a larger sink, too. I would keep the kitchen floor as simple as possible – so many other beautiful things going on in this room.

Allison
4 days ago

Great post! A bigger sink in the island will give you more options, and I’d nix the pizza oven idea unless you want to be worrying about your guests burning the place down…those things get hot! As for the sconces and lights, one lesson learned from Emily’s projects is that if something isn’t quite right, you can always swap it out. Go with your gut to start. Thanks Orlando!

Alison
4 days ago

Hi!! Love you Orlando 🙂 ok below are my thoughts to your questions:

  • since the wall tile is a cool / different pattern I would stick with something simple for the tile floors. Probably a brick installation
  • I think the little sink s fine, bar sinks are meant to be small, no need to take up more counter space
  • the sconces are just too big IMO, all of them. I think you should stick with an interior sconce. I like the idea of bringing outside in, but I don’t think this is the place. You just don’t have the room between the windows
  • I would not mix craftsman and art deco. They are also two of my fav design stiles and I can see the link, but I would keep it more craftsman
  • no built in pizza oven – I love the idea, but I think if you REALLY want pizza you can get one of those small portable ones (ooni maybe?) and call it a day. Seems like a lot to add, even if you have the space, just for fun

I can’t wait to see the progress and thank you for sharing!!

Vanessa
4 days ago

Love the outdoor Dartmouth lights, very unique and will make your home feel like it was built in the 1920s. I understand your friends point but the Dartmouth lights are too good and it helps disguise that this is a new reno.
I too am obsessed with consistancy in lighting and creating a warm look. LED bulbs make bright warm light much easier to achieve and match throughout the home. I only have bright light in my laundry room. Also on my recessed lights I can climb up on ladder open it up easily and change the color temperature. It has a range of 6 temperatures between warm and bright (what I light to call gas station lighting)
love the plans!! And go with the big sink!

Sarah
4 days ago
  1. if you’re doing a complex pattern on wall I’d stay simple on floor. One star of the show.
  2. keep the prep sink for prep not dishwashing. Mess in two places would bother me and if you’re having lots of family, the island is logical place for trays of snacks etc.
  3. Art deco and craftsman go together in a this house was assembled thru the ages kinda way. I dig it. I also love the Craftsman sconces. Nancy Myers is too simple for the vibe you want.
  4. pizza oven a no just for location. You already have one stove by a door. Having another would be tougher functionally.
  5. Any thoughts on turning the peninsula into a second island? It would create more gathering space and if you do larger sink in island, would serve as your grazing/gathering pad when entertaining.
Dena
4 days ago

Yes, I’m exhausted but from excitement. No, I can’t remember all the things to vote on but what stands out to me is the big art deco lights. I think art deco would work fine but for some reason everytime in the past and now that you show the renderings the size doesn’t feel right. Too big!

Yes to pizza oven!!

Are you going to add a coffee/drink bar area? That’s where a small sink should go if you’ll have one. You didn’t mention it so wondering what your thoughts are?

Everything you have thought of and picked out is stunning! I love the back splash tile!

No comment on the floor as I know it will look beautiful but I am a hardwood in kitchen person- less grout to clean (is there grout?) and tile is cold and hard on the feet!!!

Please keep posting- would also like to see posts about your LA place!

Natalie
4 days ago

No to the pizza oven.
Keep the small sink.

Kj
4 days ago

I would want the kitchen more connected to the new living space (even though it is far in the future). Do you have a plan for how that will work?

4 days ago
Reply to  Kj

I actually don’t plan to connect the new kitchen directly with the formal living room I plan to add where the garage is. I love an actual living room that is a destination in its own right so I don’t feel the need for it all to be one open space (nor does that make total sense in a home I’m trying to make feel more historic). As it is now, there is a TON of seating near the kitchen – a breakfast bar that seats 4-6, a dining table that seats 8-10, and a fireside lounge with a sofa and a club chair. So if people want the kitchen vibe, there’s more than enough room to hang in that common space. But I’m good to have the living room feel like its own separate space that is proximal to the kitchen (and hopefully one day a laundry room/bar sink area right off).

Kj
3 days ago
Reply to  Orlando

Sorry to focus on this, but do you have the floorplan for the addition? If the house is already 3000 sf and you add a large addition, I wonder if the access between the kitchen and new living room will only be through a regular sized 32” wide door opening or through a narrow 32” wide hallway? Normal in an 1500 sf ranch but your “final/dream” house sounds like it will have a lot of volume/space which might make these narrow access points to the grand living room feel claustrophobic. A 32” cased opening usually signals entering a private space. You wouldn’t want anything narrower than a 42” cased opening. And 52” or 60” would be even better. And this is crazy, but would you ultimately want to move the kitchen to the addition (if, oh, money grew on trees)?

A.B.
4 days ago

Love your posts and ideas. Paint the cabinets! I would be so bummed to see white cabinets in a mountain home if I were renting. Then the verdigris lighting totally works.

Claire
4 days ago

This plan is gorgeous and I appreciate your thoughtfulness, Orlando. I love hearing the details about how you think about lighting! I think the tile is gorgeous and fully trust it will look beautiful however you choose to install it. I feel like I get your vision for the whole house and the lighting but something isn’t quite landing with the sconces/peninsula lights and it sounds like you feel the same way. I’m totally confident you’ll solve it! I think the craftsman lights are standing out to my eyes (which may just be the render) but I love that you’re going for something original there. And again, thanks for your thought process! As a non-designer (but an artist), planning a reno, this is super useful!

Jodie
4 days ago

House is fantastic! You are fantastic and I wish you were my best friend so you could help me with my house!
However, I don’t think you need that door in the kitchen. Add your pizza oven-they’re awesome and leave it a window. Door breaks up counter space and physical flow and will be annoying to actually use.

Jen
4 days ago
Reply to  Jodie

The door will later be gone and be the opening into the living room. Once the garage gets turned into a living room.

4 days ago

Such an entertaining post, Orlando. Chef here, don’t do the indoor pizza oven, especially if you will be renting it. I’ve cooked at Sunstone many times and they won’t let anyone use that oven in the picture (only the outside one).
Love the progress report!

Tracy
4 days ago
Reply to  Jamie

I second this! We have an indoor pizza oven and I would never let renters use it. To properly cook pizza you’re looking at extreme heat and it is insanely easy to get hurt and requires extreme supervision around kids. It’s a huge liability.

Cris S.
4 days ago
Reply to  Tracy

That brings up an interested question of home insurance and how that would change with a combination of whatever insurance you have to have with renting out the house / liability and an open heat source like this. Scares the life out of me, honestly – put it outside.

AK
4 days ago

My thoughts re the size of your prep sink is, meh, just skip it entirely. When we redid our kitchen, we put in a second stovetop (wow, what a luxury for two cooks, one messy, one not), we also put in a small prep sink with a garbage disposal and a hot water spigot. We LOVE the spigot but wish we’d installed it with the main sink because that’s basically all that sink gets used for. Turns out, we don’t need a separate sink, it’s really just in the way and the hardware underneath takes up so much room. I’d much much rather have the counter space and the open cupboard space below. I wish I’d applied the logic to the prep sink as I did to a stand-alone ice maker and trash compactor, which I decided against. Was it worth $3-4K (plus space) to save running for a bag of ice for parties every few months? Was it worth $3-4K (plus space) to save making an extra trip to the downstairs garage where the trash is every other day or so? I do not regret forgoing these and wish I’d foregone the prep sink too, the money and the… Read more »

gina
4 days ago

Pizza oven – as a rental, I think this would be a huge selling point! If I was planning a trip, I might stay and make a pizza! Hopefully some kind of venting/the draft of the oven itself will not set off the smoke alarm is my only concern!
Lighting – I agree with your friend that the pendants should match the other hanging lights, but I like the outdoor sconces as a nod to being in a more natural place!

Karina
4 days ago

Meaty post! Came here to say I think the layout of the exterior looks great. Lots of cabins in this part of the USA (Minnesota) start out as a simple structure and get added onto through the years. The only thing that stood out to me is the window placement on the original house (far left in rendering). I think a window needs to be added on the first floor and/or the windows on the first floor need to have more weight to create continuity with the additions. It seems a little top heavy on the second floor right now. I’m also in love with that STOVE!

Jenni
4 days ago

I think you should get rid of the island sink and make the other sink huge. I love an island that’s not broken up, where I can roll out cookie dough and utilize the entire surface for my task. I also am really intrigued by the pizza oven. Since this is a vacation place, I think a wood burning pizza oven would be super fun and what a memory maker for families who stay there. Growing up for a special treat, my mom would make personalized pizzas with us. We would have LOVED to make our personal pizzas in a stone oven. I absolutely love this idea! Orlando, no matter what you do, this kitchen is going to be amazing. You just have the “touch” to make everything more beautiful and functional.

4 days ago
Reply to  Jenni

Yes! I’ve considered this. The current island actually already has a sink in it, so it’s plumbed already. I guess I feel kinda weird about taking an amenity out. And there’s been times at orMOMdo’s kitchen where it’s been really nice to have that extra prep sink. I’ve mostly used it for cutting and arranging flowers out of the way.

D
4 days ago

Oh gosh I LOVE the pizza oven idea. Even if your just cooking take and bake pizza. Drinking wine around the island with a little fire in the corner sounds like the kind of family time I dream about! As long as your sink is big enough to rinse some veggies, fill and wash fragile glassware I think you should be fine with what you’ve got.
And that chaine homme tile is so special, unique but timeless. Can’t wait to see how it all works out. I know it’s going to be drool worthy.

Emma
4 days ago

No to the indoor pizza oven. You are going to get an Airbnb guest who cannot read or gets drunk or both and then you don’t have a house anymore, just a smoldering pile of rubble. But! You could have one outdoors! It would be an inspired alternative to the big rusted BBQ grills that all mountain Airbnbs have. Can you even have an operational indoor fireplace that is not gas/electric in a CA short term rental? In my state you cannot (friends had to install a front cover with locks on theirs or they would not get a permit from the township).

I am ambivalent on the lighting. I either want more contrast between the pendant, ceiling, and perimeter lights, or more homogeneity of style. Right now, it looks like the two want to beat up the one, and I would rather they all fight or not fight at all.

Christina
4 days ago

I just skimmed the comments and the lack of consensus is amusing me. The kitchen plans look so gorgeous in the renderings and I know you’ll make it work so I don’t even know why I’m adding my thoughts but they are: 1. You would rock an ivory cable knit sweater and it would look great in this kitchen. 2. I love the Dartmouth sconce and having the Dartmouth pendants at the same height — it means basically all the perimeter lights match while the central pendants can do their own milk glass art deco thing. I don’t like the more rectangular sconce or the Build.com sconces, as they look more rigidly outdoorsy instead of creative application of outdoors like the Dartmouth. 3. I have never had a separate prep sink so no lived opinion there. The distinct round shape of the smaller one appeals aesthetically though. 4. I found another photo of the Sunstone Villa pizza fireplace here https://www.independent.com/2012/12/12/italian-peasant-food-goes-grand/ that makes me like it even more. But I have one aesthetic and two practical questions: a) wouldn’t the chimney popping up right by the kitchen windows make the outside look weird? b) could there be any issues with building… Read more »

April
4 days ago

I love reading about Londo Lodge! Would you consider making the garage addition two-story? The front elevation in your rendering looks good as is, but a second story above the garage addition would balance the other side of the house. It could be a gym or detached suite, or art studio, etc.

4 days ago
Reply to  April

Yes! I’ve considered this but there are a few drawbacks to carrying the second floor all the way over. Firstly, it would basically just create a weird attic space for most of the second floor unless I was willing to drop the ceiling in the kitchen and give up on my gabled living room ceiling I was hoping for. My problem with the house is that it’s too large to feel so NOT grand. So I want a big living room with high ceilings and I don’t want to drop my kitchen ceiling because I love how open it is in there (which adding a second story would require). Second, I’m guessing the cost of my current plan – the garage addition/reconfiguring the roofline and adding the mud room – is in the 500K range. Adding a second story is probably getting me close to the $1M mark and that’s probs not gonna be viable for me for a very long time, if ever.

lori
4 days ago

The plans look really great–I have been, and am now, in the place where we’re pacing improvements to our home and yard, so there are some current ‘jump cuts’! Some things to consider: 1) location of the pizza oven right next to a main hallway isn’t ideal. Do you have plans for an outdoor kitchen/bbq/oven that would add fun, but not take away from functionality in the kitchen? 2) drawers are so expensive, but so worth the cost. I would compromise in lots of other areas first. 3) floor tile will be beautiful, but with a rental you might have trouble with the cleaning, or possible chipping. 4) I love the outdoor lights inside. 5) for island sink I would opt for whatever works for your family cooking habits! Great work, as always.

A
4 days ago

This is only about the lighting situation but I love the outdoor-style lights and they feel very “sierras” to me. I think they feel a little out of place because there’s almost no contrast in the kitchen as it’s designed, though? The current kitchen is somewhat glamorous and (a little English?) to my eye, and less “craftsman.” I wonder if laying floor tile in a dark, earthy green or black-adjacent color would ground it more as a traditionally styled CA mountain home and tie in the craftsman light fixtures more? I’m not into the art deco fixtures as a cabin look—wishing they were simpler!

K
4 days ago

I love reading your posts, Orlando! This is going to be an amazing kitchen. Question about the wine fridge: when you are Airbnb-ing the house will you leave the wine fridge empty? I wonder if it will look strange to have the whole thing sitting empty….. But the alternative is to Airbnb it with a bunch of bottle in it which seems expensive. I definitely understand the draw of having a wine fridge in a house your family uses, but for a short-term vacation I don’t see the vision as much.

Love those new windows you added along the wall with the main sink. Please keep us updated as this project progresses!

4 days ago
Reply to  K

OMG that’s a great question! I haven’t figured that out yet. I thought about stocking it like they do at hotels with bottles that get inventoried after every guest, another way to make money. But I also want to be sensitive to people in recovery so I’m guessing I may just leave it empty with a few bottles of Perrier or even lock it and make the guests use the regular fridge.

2 days ago
Reply to  Orlando

Honestly love the idea of stocking it with just non-alcoholic drinks for guests!

🥰 Rusty
4 days ago

Oooooh Myyyyyyyyy!!!!🤗
So. Many. Fabulous. Design. Elements. And. Choices.
I’m going to be revisiting this post a few times to stare and re-read!!!!

Londo Lodge WILL turn into the grand, historic space you want it to!!!
Coz YOU follow through! And I am sooo along for the wild ride of watching it happen!

I’d always go for a bigger/double sink as a firm function over form choice.
I’d nix the wood-fired oven for some other, future-proof luxury item. Let your imagination run free.

Loving your posts, as slways, Orlando. 😊

🥰 Rusty
4 days ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

P.S.
I realllllly like your “Londo Lodge” logo!👍

Connie
4 days ago

Wow that oven is gorgeous! and i love taking out the uppers and making a wall of windows there. I also love the refrigeration wall however I think a full wine fridge will be a waste. you won’t want to store your wine in there full time b/c you won’t want renters drinking it, and renters aren’t going to need all that space for a vacation’s worth of wine. The only other thing I have an opinion on is the island sink, I’d nix it in favor of an unbroken island, and do a larger main sink. bonus: then you dont have to worry about plumbing being visible on the floor!

Eleanor
4 days ago

I’m sure whatever you decide, the whole thing will come out great. Here are my thoughts: Do not compromise on lower drawers vs cabinets — if needed, cut out cost somewhere else, not here. In the end, it will be less expensive to do it now than later. To fully utilize those lower-cabinets, you need to install those things that extend out – these things need to be factored in the cost. Of course, even with these, it will be far less efficient with cabinet doors instead of drawers Island sink should be thought of as prep sink instead of bar sink. This will make the fridge-sink-stove triangle much more efficient. Choose sink size in terms of what size you need to wash produce, etc. I love quartz – I have it in my kitchen and love it but I don’t think it is the best for your kitchen. You wrote, “The eventual vibe I’m going for is a combination of Craftsman and Cape Cod styles. Rather than feeling like you’re walking into a 90s box when you arrive, I want people to feel like they’re coming into a home built in 1929, the year the house in Yosemite Valley… Read more »

Kate F
2 days ago
Reply to  Eleanor

I want to take my time to write a full response but I HAVE to add a plus one to the point about the drawers. I stopped short when I got to that part of the post. I’d prioritize that functionality over a lot of other things—you won’t be able to easily switch it later and to build a high-end kitchen like this and then have a ton of impractical cabinets like black holes for kitchenware…especially in a rental house, it will be a confusing jumble all the time. Highly highly vote for saving elsewhere and doing the cabinets right.

l.a.
2 days ago
Reply to  Kate F

i agree! i LOVE it when rentals have drawers. it makes everything so much more organized and easy to see what they kitchen has to offer.

AMES
4 days ago

So excited to see another post from you Orlando!
Love reading everyone’s input, especially as I’ve been following along with Londo Lodge on IG and it’s been amazing to see your progress so far.
I’m only going to weigh in on Debate #4 to say that the sconces really work in that space and really deliver on the whole elevated woodsy vibe. I think it’s actually the Art Deco pendants that are throwing the lighting off! When you include an element in the original vision, like it seems the wedding cake pendants have been in from the start, we naturally get really attached to it and think of it as a fixed element of the design. I think they’re slightly too trendy and glamorous, even reading a little 80s in the space somehow? There are so many good lighting options in the world that if you splurge on something it should really make the space. This might be a good opportunity to go vintage?
I’m sure you’ll figure it out and it will look beautiful no matter what, this is just my two cents as someone emotionally invested in this renovation from afar. Best of luck!!!

Amy
4 days ago

I love the pizza oven idea! But if you want something a little more practical, a wood burning kitchen stove is also a very cute option. Here’s one on remodelista: https://www.remodelista.com/posts/kitchen-ideas-cookbook-author-amy-thielen/

Kristi
4 days ago

I love the vibe when working under budget constraints-it forces you to be more creative which is a win for the space. When anyone shoots for ideal, like not working under a budget…I like spaces less. It’s like you can no longer feel the human behind all the creating because instead all you feel is a image of ideal that is shared in group think, pinterest, instragram. The artist/designer is lost a bit. So I love the footprint of luxury here but I wouldn’t put in all the bells and whistles because it feels less creative to me. I love your work. This is my two cents…grateful for the chance to chime in on YOUR choices.

Jennyb
4 days ago

You’re such a design genius! I won’t comment on your designs, as you will pick what is best (see previously, you are a design genius!). Just two comments. I hate tile floors as they are so difficult to clean (grout), especially where people are spilling things in a kitchen and the tiles are as small as those. And they are so hard and uncomfortable – I love wood in a kitchen. And, as a rental homeowner in Tahoe, I would sadly say no to the pizza oven. Insurance wise, liability wise, fire wise, it’s a non starter. Can’t wait to see what you do!

Julie
4 days ago

Okay Orlando, I love you and your writing and your style. I admit I took your design from your parents’ kitchen and copied it as best I could in my new home last year – and I love it so much. We just got a standalone pizza oven for ourselves for Christmas – it’s both propane and wood burning, a Gozney – and it’s AMAZING. Seriously, as soon as you make ONE pizza in that thing, you will be HOOKED. Consider how many amazing pizzas you can make in it, for yourself or your friends and family that come to vacation with you there. Built it!! Maybe there’s a way to have it run on both gas or wood, though? But if you really think you will not use it, skip it and spend your money elsewhere. I love the outdoor lights used inside and the combo with the wedding cake lights. Both are gorgeous and unique. But I’m strangely drawn to the lights that were in a couple of your renderings, that look like bows at the top…? If you’re doing two sinks, make them both full size, or at least get a pivoting faucet so you could easily… Read more »

Juanita
4 days ago
Reply to  Julie

Yes, agreed with all this! Homemade pizza (or using store-bought dough) is my go-to trick for large dinner parties – you can customize to each person’s preferences, they’re super fast, and fun for everyone to get involved. I make them with cast-iron pans in a hot oven, but an actual pizza oven would (wood? lol) be a dream. In an area with colder winters, an indoor pizza oven is ideal. So I’m Team Oven – just include very specific instructions for use in your visitors’ manual!

However – I’m also Team No Sink In The Island. You won’t really use it, and it takes up valuable counter space. But to each their own – do what works for you!!

Juanita
4 days ago
Reply to  Juanita

Also – I rent out a small cabin as an airbnb that includes a large wood-burning fireplace – lots of potential for error and danger but honestly, I have never had an issue. Just vet your guests carefully and communicate safety info early and often.

Molly
4 days ago

As a trained chef who’s worked in a wood-fired pizza restaurant, I would not put in a home. Wood cooking requires a lot of babysitting…you need to turn the pizza quickly to cook it evenly, and it gets up to 900-1000 degrees F, so it’s intense. It’s messy as well. I would never put such a hot and high-maintenance oven in the hands of guests because of fire safety. You can make amazing bread without wood firing. If you really want to do wood firing, i would do it outside for safety.

Rachel
3 days ago
Reply to  Molly

Molly, yes!! My husband also trained in a wood-fired oven restaurant, and we built a pizza oven… in our backyard. When we host pizza parties, it’s an all day affair: stoking the fire for several hours to heat the oven, cooking, and then cleanup after. As you mention, the oven is intensely hot, and he gets sweaty cooking in it. I can’t imagine how unbearable/messy that would be inside, not only for the cook, but also for guests in the kitchen area.

Jen
4 days ago

I think the pizza oven is a great idea but not with renters. The liability is not worth it. And can you have a wood burning pizza oven outside in that environment? I am curious if that would fly since it is an open fire and you live where you do. I wouldn’t trust renters with that kind of responsibility either inside or out.

Allie
4 days ago
Reply to  Jen

I was thinking about this too – Sadly, in CA outdoor fire risk is huge and there may even be rules about outdoor pizza ovens or fire pits for rentals in your area. We have a cabin in northern CA with a very safe outdoor chiminea, but we only use it during the winter because our neighborhood has an informal NO FIRES pact during the ever-lengthening fire season. It’s a bummer but not as much of a bummer as accidentally burning down a beautiful forest and our neighbors’ homes!

Nicole
4 days ago

I am totally 100% PRO pizza oven!!! What a cool idea, it’s going to look SO GOOD and cozy!
And as for the ‘you’ll never use it’ debate – I grew up in a very rural area where, when we lost power, it could be for a WHILE; we had a wood burning stove that was absolutely clutch in those situations. So maybe you won’t use it often, but when you do need it I honestly think it would be very nice to have.

Diane
4 days ago

I will join the chorus to say pizza oven sure but OUTDOORS only! I can only imagine the mess and problems you’re going to see when inexperienced renters try to use an indoor one. Not worth it. Let them make memories outdoors with a pizza oven and fire pit! And satisfy your stone cravings in the kitchen in other ways.

Kate
3 days ago
Reply to  Diane

I think having wood burning pizza ovens & fire pits outdoors in a tinder box of a forest & with renters would be too risky.

Diane
4 days ago

Also, I meant to say I really appreciate how kind Orlando is about the choices made by previous owners. So many bloggers would be like “OMG so dark so dated so terrible ugh what were those people thinking in the 80s what awful taste THIS ISN’T TRENDY!” But he acknowledges how pleasant the room is overall, albeit with some problems. I suspect Orlando is a very kind and thoughtful person overall.

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