Chris Ridler and his wife Kristen, an interior designer, are among the urban core enthusiasts who are reimagining the West Plaza area. Their new home, happily co-existing within the established neighborhood overlooking the Country Club Plaza, is both an updated expression of urban living and a respectful addition to the neighborhood.
“We had been in a condo on the Plaza and we loved it, but we wanted more space and we wanted it to be all our own,” says Kristen of their decision to build.
The couple owned the lot for three years and took their time deciding what they wanted. Kristen had a good idea how she wanted the house to feel. Her aesthetic is reminiscent of an upscale resort but retains the warm feel of home. She consciously designed the first floor for relaxing and entertaining.
“We wanted a modern vibe,” she says. “But it was important for the house to be comfortable and have a lot of windows. We really wanted to take advantage of the view.”
The house evolved to include three stories with the traditional layout of living, entertaining and office space on the first floor and bedroom space on the second. Chris works most mornings that he is in town and his office is tucked into the front of the house just off the spacious entry.
Beyond creating their own space, the couple had specific items on their wish list. Chris, a restaurateur, loves to cook, so the kitchen was important.
“He can spend all day—literally all day—in the kitchen. It makes him so happy,” says Kristen, who enjoys standing by and keeping him company. “I love food and he enjoys that I love eating what he cooks, so it works out.”
The couple wanted a large, open kitchen where Chris could interact with friends while he cooked. The clean, crisp lines of white Caesarstone countertops and the stainless appliances combined with the warmth of the book-matched horizontal grain walnut cabinets create a perfect setting for cooking a deux or entertaining a crowd.
While the living room, with its rich leather sofas and cozy club chairs, creates a spot to enjoy the view or the fire, it’s usual for the pair to have a group of friends gathered around the kitchen island. A pull-down door covers a complete bar tucked into the sidewall where the couple can play bartender or allow their friends to help themselves. “I just didn’t want an open bar filled with bottles that said, ‘This is what we’re all about.’ I like that we can hide it away,” says Kristen.
Kristen’s focus on how space works—and not just how it looks—led to other design strategies.
“The only problem when we entertain is that our friends want to help clean up when we really want them to relax and for us to be able to relax with them,” she says.
For this reason, the couple tucked a full catering kitchen, with less formal white cabinets and inky countertops, just behind the main kitchen to either prep or hide the mess of big meals so the cleaning up can wait until later.
When the crowd is larger, the Ridlers often settle at the dining table, which is separated from the kitchen with a glass wine wall. “We saw one on vacation and knew we wanted something similar in the house,” she says.
The dramatic space is grounded with a raw-edge wood table and is punctuated with a two-story light fixture of concentric circles that Kristen found in London. The gleaming fixture provides light and drama without distracting from the double-height windows or adding unnecessary weight to the room.
The master bedroom is a soothing retreat for the busy couple. Kristen relied primarily on neutrals, which create a calming backdrop for dramatic art and warm brass lighting and hardware. The master bath has the sophisticated feel of an exclusive spa with its free-standing soaking tub and glass-walled shower. Generous his-and-her closets mean the pair never has to fight for space.
The third floor can be reinterpreted as their lives evolve. “We have a great rooftop deck and space for an exercise room or bedroom. We planned an area that could accommodate a small kitchen in case we find we need it up here,” says Kristen.
Long-term plans aside, the pair looks forward to enjoying their proximity to the Plaza this spring. “We love walking down to grab something to eat or walk around.” It’s a lifestyle made even better with a gracious house to come home to.
Bergamot and Ivy