Candace Yifru and Julian Lamm live in a 1925 English Tudor-style home on the edge of West Hollywood and Beverly Grove. The couple, both lawyers, were happy to find a property with character and more space than Lamm’s previous home in Echo Park.
“There’s hedging all around and it’s very private despite living in a busy area,” Yifru says. “Plus, we can walk everywhere.”
“It has all of these old LA details and a pitched roof,” Lamm adds.
While they loved its charm and history, the kitchen was extremely dated and wasn’t going to cut it as the couple love to cook and entertain. “We wanted to create a modern update of the kitchen that still matched the character of the house,” Lamm says. Almost immediately, they envisioned what the kitchen could look like, mocking up a rough sketch with a large central island, separate laundry room, and plenty of storage.
Hiring an Expert
They took their idea to The Expert, a newly minted platform pairing elite designers with customers for one-on-one support. Co-founded by LA-based AD100 designer Jake Arnold, experts include Amber Lewis of Amber Interiors, Sarah Sherman Samuel, Bobby Berk, and Athena Calderone.
“In the early days of lockdown, Jake was receiving hundreds of direct messages on Instagram from people all over the world asking for design advice,” says The Expert’s Editorial Director Gabrielle Savoie. “His co-founder Leo Seigal, whose background is in Silicon Valley startups, took notice. He saw a huge potential to bridge the gap between people wanting access to a top designer for advice on their own homes and these Experts’ limited bandwidth to answer every message and request,” she adds.
“I had seen The Expert on Instagram and loved what Jake Arnold did with Chrissy Teigen’s kitchen,” Yifru says. In terms of their own renovation, the couple agreed early on that they didn’t want to hire a full-time designer and take on the project on their own. Without experience, they scheduled a consultation with The Expert to “get some input, confirm what they wanted made sense, and what materials and colors go together,” before signing off on their plans.
The Perfect Countertop
During their calls with Lauren Schneider, co-founder of Transition State, and Arianna De Gasperis, founder of And Studio, they indeed got the approval they were looking for, grateful for the help combining what they saw on social media and in magazines into real life. Plus, they were pointed in the direction of local stone yards and shops for purchasing tile and hardware.
One major decision was choosing the countertop. They had planned to use BOXI by Semihandmade Mushroom Shaker cabinets, but were stuck on the right complement. Go bold or choose something neutral? Schneider steered the couple away from quartz, empowering them to pick a multi-colored porcelain with Calacatta Paonazzo marbling, a material that would hold up to the occasional red wine spill.
When it came to cost, “it wasn’t a budget kitchen,” Lamm says. They went for deVOL pendants, faucet, stools, and hardware, a choice influenced by De Gasperis, as well as Thermador appliances, are luxurious picks, while they saved on semi-custom cabinetry. “BOXI was at least half the cost of what custom would cost. “We were quoted between $40,000 and $50,000 for custom cabinets,” he adds. In the laundry room, they went with Cle tile, butcher block countertops, and Rejuvenation knobs.
Like many renovations completed during COVID, the couple had difficulty finding a reliable team, but luckily convinced a friend to take on the build, as well as put in new European white oak floors throughout.
Working with a general contractor made the project run more smoothly, but “overall management and making sure things were on time was stressful,” Lamm says.
At one point, their windows were delayed by 19 weeks and appliances took nearly 8 months, but their BOXI cabinets were delivered within the expected timeline. With the renovation completed, the couple are looking forward to enjoying their new space and taking a break from further work.