By Alyson Ward | May 5, 2015
For John and Minerva Esquivel, it started with an ice machine.
The West University Place couple wanted to buy an ice maker that would produce crushed ice, the crunchy kind Sonic sells in 10 pound bags. But if they installed an ice machine, they figured they might as well remodel the kitchen; it hadn't changed much since they bought the house new 25 years ago. And if they changed the kitchen, the Esquivels figured, they also should update the dining room - and maybe do something about that formal living room they never used.
One thing led to another, and last fall they brought in interior designer Missy Stewart to redesign the whole first floor.
"We wanted it all to flow together and not be disjointed," John says. "We were trying to figure it out ourselves and just never knew where to start."
Changing the color scheme was their hardest decision. The Esquivels have always been bold with color; before the redesign they had walls painted red, turquoise, periwinkle, chartreuse and magenta. For a sleek monochromatic look, Stewart convinced them to replace the bright wall colors with shades of gray throughout.
"When she first mentioned, 'Would you consider gray?' I was like, 'I don't know...' " Minerva says, adding that now she loves the look, which allows for more color and texture in each room's furniture and accessories.
The four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath house has about 4,000 square feet, and all the bedrooms are upstairs. The open downstairs makes the home perfect for entertaining, which the Esquivels love to do; since the redesign wrapped up in mid-February, they've hosted several parties.
A heavy wood table, chairs covered in blue velvet and custom-made drapes make the dining room lush and inviting. But across the hallway, the other front room is the most striking transformation of all. The formal living room is now what the Esquivels call the "jazz room."
"We decided this was a room where we were just going to chill out, listen to vinyl, enjoy a bourbon or a scotch and just relax," says John, who retired from Shell Oil Company in 2011 and calls himself a "frustrated musician." His dad, who's 85, was a professional jazz pianist.
The Esquivels go to a different jazz festival every year - Newport, Montreux, Monterey - and framed festival posters line the walls. John's double bass leans against a stand in the corner; a record player takes center stage on a credenza. Near the window, beneath a gallery wall of photos from John's dad's performing days, a nickel-and-glass bar cart holds a selection of whiskey and glasses.
"So many friends of ours will say, 'Oh, man, I have this great record collection that I haven't listened to,' " says John. "I say, 'You bring over the records; I've got the bourbon.' And so many times we have just spent hours here, just hanging out."
With the remodel, the Esquivels have essentially gained a room in their house, John says. "We've probably spent more time in here in one month than we did in the 25 years prior to that."
The Esquivels wanted to gain space in the kitchen as well, so they reduced the size of a pantry to make way for a larger island. There's now room for four industrial-style bar stools, which line up across from the Wolf cooktop so friends and family can spend time together as meals are prepared.
The couple also opted to open up the butler's pantry, creating an airier walkway between the kitchen and dining room. That space is now a dedicated bar area, with a wine refrigerator and thick glass shelves.
Kitchen countertops are a leathered dolomite; the backsplash is tiled Cararra marble. And a Scotsman Brilliance nugget ice machine - the appliance that started it all - is installed near the stainless-steel refrigerator.
"Every room," says John, "we're living in and enjoying."