Lou and Lynette Tornatzky have a vast collection of art, as well as artifacts from their travels. They are avid cooks and entertainers. And they manage all this with a mere 1,300 square feet of living space.
Living large in a small space required planning and creativity for this retired Los Osos couple. They bought their 1984-built, single-level house in 2005. Fortunately for them, their neighbor is Richard Clark, owner of Fresh Kitchens & Baths Plus Wallbeds, who designs and builds cabinets and furniture for both residential and corporate clients. Clark helped them maximize storage and space in each room and also headed up a major kitchen remodel. According to Lynette, the kitchen was dark, dated and cramped with an odd layout that “made the kitchen feel claustrophobic and cut-off,” she said.
They demolished the old kitchen, taking it down to the studs. A new, 6-foot long greenhouse window and simple white cabinets visually expand the small room. The cabinetry is fitted with a multitude of specialized pullouts to use every inch of space. The trash pullout is inset into a wall to cut down on its bulk. They splurged on a $1,100 Italian-made metal rollout rack that takes advantage of the hard-to-reach space in the corner of a lower cabinet. A narrow pullout on the side of the stove has pegs for hanging cooking implements. Even the commonly wasted space above the refrigerator has its own specialized storage drawer.
These devices are not just space savers — they cut down on visual clutter. To maintain this streamlined look, the Tornatzkys keep their small appliances, such as the toaster and coffee maker, stashed inside a countertop appliance garage. A spice rack sits flush against the wall and is disguised with a piece of art. The dishwasher is concealed with paneling, allowing it to blend seamlessly with cabinetry.
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Keeping clutter under wraps puts the focus on a few select pieces. The Tornatzkys chose dramatic granite countertops that are boldly patterned and swirled with tan, brown, purple and gray. The backsplash is opalescent Japanese tile, set in a horizontal pattern to make the space seem larger. An oversized, flying saucerlike light fixture is one of the pieces that Clark says makes “a clear statement about their lifestyle.”
The house employs other space-saving techniques. A wallbed, one of Clark’s specialties, allows the couple to quickly convert an office into a guest room. A custom entertainment center built by Clark is a floating piece, mounted to the wall with five sturdy iron brackets. “The living room is very small,” said Lynette. “Having a floating one gives the illusion of depth and more floor space.”
Though the entertainment center is sleek and contemporary, the Tornatskys craved color. So the top of the unit is clad in sheet copper that was acid-washed to “create subtle color variations to complement their colorful wall hangings,” said Clark.
The couple wanted a lot of personality in their petite bathrooms. Painter Terry Stone aged and textured the guest bathroom walls in a burnt orange hue. In the master bath, a shell-motif glass vessel sink found at Pacific Coast Kitchen and Bath inspired an ocean theme. Pebble floors and water-hued glass tile add to the beach feel.
The couple’s art collection infuses the home with color and energy. They have pieces by several local artists including Jeff Claassen, Rosanne Seitz and Lena Rushing. But even the utilitarian is lifted to the level of art in the Tornatzky home. They replaced their lackluster doors with those inset with stained glass. Their medicine cabinet is sheathed in art. They even took the time to find fun, funky switchplate covers.
Not all upgrades were so exciting or glamorous, but the results were equally dramatic. Lou Tornatzky himself ripped out the old gray carpet and replaced it with wood. The couple had dark walls painted mostly white. And solar tubes flood formerly dark spaces. “It feels comfortably spacious now, where before it felt cramped and gloomy,” said Lynette Tornatzky.