Marvin provided the windows for the mountain house and for the below project. We love them a lot and thank you for supporting the brands that help us bring content to you. Enjoy!
It is no secret that we love a well thought out minimalist design. As we’ve discussed on this blog many times before, minimal does not at all mean boring, nor is it necessarily easy to achieve. Just like attempting to figure out how to emulate the “effortless cool girl” it can be maddening trying to pinpoint what is really working in a minimal and neutrally designed home. While decor and furniture obviously play a huge role, you might be surprised by the impact windows can have on a space—by bringing in all the natural light and framing outdoor views. Thoughtful placement and selection of windows during a renovation is essential (something Emily quickly learned when she was renovating the mountain house with Marvin).
Now, I can think of no better example of thoughtful design with stellar windows and natural light than today’s tour (home of Amber Lestrange), that features all the elements of a bright and airy minimal space–with an emphasis on bringing the outdoors in.
There is so much I want to dive into but let’s begin with the light and warm color palette that sets the tone for the entire space. The light wood floors, fresh white walls, and white ceiling immediately drew me in because they are a perfect canvas for the natural light to do its magic. I asked Amber what she thinks the benefits are in having the walls and ceilings the same light color and she explained, “I like having the walls and ceilings (basically) the same color as it creates a clean uniformed tone for the room and allows the furniture and other accents to do the talking. It helps the space feel larger and brighter, as well as helps the light bounce around the room keeping it bright and airy.”
Rightfully so, in the kitchen and dining area there’s neutral yet sculptural furniture and decor (that table! that pendant!!!) which are the few conversational pieces the space really needs. The rest is kept soft and minimal which speaks to Amber’s relaxed yet elevated aesthetic.
The picture window functions to literally “frame” the outdoors which allows so much light to pour into the space, and by forgoing window treatments the natural light is always at play. In a bedroom, it would be tough to keep windows completely bare (unless you are someone who loves waking up with the sun, in which case TEACH ME YOUR WAYS) but since the window is in the dining area and kitchen, the natural light is useful and quite magical.
Now, it’s clear that natural light was Amber’s top priority while she was renovating, but that’s not always the simplest thing to achieve. In order to bring as much light in as possible, they tore down walls to make the space more open and installed a sliding patio door from Marvin.
This door literally brings the outdoors in, opens up the space, and allows for nature to come through in the design and speak for itself. This was very important to Amber and her family who are big nature people but it also speaks to her attention to functionality. She explained she “wanted a home that facilitated a relationship with the pool and patio/garden area to make it easy and comfortable to be outside and active as much as possible.”
The indoor/outdoor concept is truly the icing on the cake design-wise–but for Amber and her family, it means much more. It promotes their lifestyle and values, allows them to spend more time outdoors as a family, and brings in the environmental elements that are so important to them.
Now that you’ve experienced the space virtually, we wanted to chat some more with Amber to get to know some specific details from her design process:
Was it always the plan to have an indoor/outdoor concept?
Yes! Lots of light and openness was a must-have for our living space. We are nature people so wanted to have as many of the natural elements in eyesight as possible. Our Marvin doors and windows were a saving grace in this process.
How long did your renovation take? Just over 1 year!! We went slow as we were operating as our own general contractor.
How did you create your window plan? I think for a lot of renovators that’s a nerve-wracking topic to take on.
We worked with the existing window/door placement so did not have much to think about except for where we wanted to place the large sliding glass doors. In that case, we considered where the best view is and the most central position to the rest of the living room. We are lucky that the large fixed window has a pretty view of the side yard and is nicely positioned to light up the kitchen table corner. This is my favorite window in the house- it is so big that it creates this dramatic frame, beckoning the viewer to go outside to experience the yard. It creates a tranquil little nook to enjoy a meal.
Did you have to make any adjustments to the window plan based on the framing of the home? Or did you adjust the framing for the windows?
We tried to use the existing framing as much as possible and swap out the old windows and doors for new Marvin brand ones. This was to save on the costs of reframing. The exception is the large sliding door we installed, which was a must in our opinion to get the open feel we wanted.
How has the seamless indoor/outdoor connection impacted your lives?
We start each day sliding through the glass door to enjoy coffee on our patio. Feeling the fresh air and sunshine first thing creates a quality of life I just couldn’t live without! I also spend a lot of time in the kitchen so to feel connected with the outdoors and surrounded by light whilst being productive in the kitchen is a dream! The indoor/outdoor living plan really encourages us daily to live our best life 😉
What do you think the benefits of having a picture window vs one that can open/ventilate are?
I like the clean look of a picture window and it doubles up as a strong frame for the outside view.
What is your favorite feature of the windows?
I love how clean, simple, and timeless the frames are. The naked wood frames we used also add warmth to our space that I love. The latches are also stylish and VERY user friendly.
You clearly have a beautiful minimalist style. What are your top tips for creating a minimalist design that doesn’t feel empty and boring?
Subtle textures! We love achieving this by using roman clay on the walls and a slightly warmer white on the walls in the larger spaces. Also, interesting fabrics/materials that bring warmth and interest to the space while staying in the theme of the room. Use good authentic materials and allow them to be the focus.
You mixed a few different tones and types of wood. Do you have a wood mixing philosophy?
Our designers, Klein Agency, pushed for the darker stained oak kitchen. I had my reservations about it against the ash oak wooden floors but it turned out to be amazing. The contrast in tones of the wood pop the kitchen making it a feature piece of the room. I like that the different color woods create a balance between masculine and feminine feelings rather than all light and fem (same tone of wood throughout (which I have a tendency to lean towards).
Now for fun (and because it’s our favorite part) here are the stunning before and afters:
Huge thanks to Amber for letting us feature her home and pick her brain :). Now, I’d love to hear your thoughts so please hop in the comments so we can chat about this beautiful and practically designed space. xx