“Parkside Setting” from the U-T San Diego

Townhouse Undergoes Cosmopolitan Conversion

by Lynne Carrier


French doors kneading to a front patio admit light and views of Balboa Park into the living room with its decor in subtle shades of gray and gold.

The buyers spent more than two years searching for just the right home before settling on an elegant San Diego townhouse. It had wonderful bones, with lofty 10-foot-high ceilings and an open concept layout. It even had a private interior elevator. But what really attracted them was the location. It overlooked Balboa Park. The home, especially its spacious second-floor balcony, basked in the borrowed landscape of the park’s greenery.


The bland kitchen was transformed into a visual centerpiece for the main floor. The island is topped with rare Fusion granite. John Christian Photos

Built in 2006, the home was still in good shape when the couple bought it in 2013. Nevertheless, the new owners wanted a makeover reflecting their cosmopolitan style and a design compatible with its parkside setting. After an extensive computer search, the couple, who requested anonymity, found the online portfolio of La Jolla interior designer Kathleen Zbacnik. They liked what they saw and commissioned her company, KZ Design Group, for a top-to-bottom remodeling of the 3,300-square-foot townhouse.

For such a major job, Zbacnik first researched her clients’ preferences before plunging into the project. She couldn’t learn much from their previous residence, because they had been living in a furnished rental unit. “After one or two shopping trips, I got to know their tastes,” Zbacnik said. She took them to Pirch, an appliance store with a 33,000-square-foot showroom, and then to the slab yards of Unique Stone for tiles and granite.

These materials helped transform a previously dull, functional kitchen into the warm, inviting centerpiece of the main floor living area. A single slab of Fusion granite with intricate waves of blue-gray and rust colors was selected for the kitchen island. A complementary rectangle of the same stone was mounted behind the stove. “It is so expressive, so phenomenal,” Zbacnik said. “I would never get tired of looking at it.”


A reproduction of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night over the Rhone” was installed above the tub to brighten up the master bathroom. Water pours in from a wide faucet at the base of the artistic resin panel, giving the impression that it is flowing from the river.

But the most dramatic feature is the reproduction of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night over the Rhone” installed above the jetted tub. Created by Italian artist Alex Turco, its midnight blue provides a bold contrast to the golden tones in the rest of the room. Water pours into the tub – as if it were from the Rhone itself – through a sheet-flow faucet hidden at the bottom the artwork. The Van Gogh panel is made from a glossy resin. “It will withstand heat, cold, water, and you can even use them outside,” Zbacnik said.


The powder room features an irregularly shaped glass sink in gold and rust tones. The sink is infused into a pewter iron base. John Christian Photos



A fabric-covered chandelier from Eurofase shines on the custom-made Macassar ebony dining table from Indonesia. The table has a leaf in order to increase the seating capacity. John Christian Photos



A custom-made bar from furniture designer Theodore Alexander brightens a corner of the media room. The bar has interior lighting, and its exterior is exotic veneer in a high-gloss finish.


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Read more about this remodel

Balboa Park Townhouse Remodel

My clients (who wish to remain anonymous) had been looking for over two years for a condo in which to retire when a friend told them about this amazing townhouse across from Balboa Park. They saw it and instantly fell in love with the layout, the spectacular view of the Park, and the location. However the space needed to be updated and all the finish materials changed to give a warmer and more welcoming feel. Some appliances and fixtures could be re-purposed but others had to go.

before-kitchen-update-condo before-kitchen-remodel

The scope of the remodel was immense and included kitchen, powder room, guest bath, and master bath; as well as wholehouse automation and integration. My first stop when given a design project like this is PIRCH! So I contacted my rep and he set up a time for my clients and I to come in to use the conference room and get started on fixtures selections. We were treated to a demonstration on the Evo Grill by one of Pirch’s professional chef’s; including a yummy lunch!

My next stop is the slab yard at Unique Stone Imports. We met with the owner, David Snyder, and together began specifying these amazing slabs and tile.

bay-laurel-kitchen marble-slab

There were many challenges to this remodel including moving plumbing location, changing drain locations, and converting a plain master bathroom into a stunning, spa-like steam shower and therapy tub. The bathroom had no natural light and you cannot simply “add a window” to an existing high rise tower so I created a window space by using a resin panel of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night over the Rhone”. The sheet-flow tub filler seemingly emanates from the Rhone!”

before-park-laurel-bathroom master-bathroom-remodel bathroom-remodeled-master

Credits to be given:
Interior design by KZ DESIGN GROUP, Kathleen M. Zbacnik, ASID, IIDA, CID

Video Interview for AWE TV

KZ DESIGN GROUP principle designer and owner, Kathleen Zbacnik, ASID, IIDA, CID, was interviewed by AWE TV, a wealth of entertainment, and walks through each room with the producer to explain all the amazing details. Don’t miss the video when it airs on May 4th at 8 pm PDT on AWE TV, “Behind the Gates.” Here’s […] Read more »


to see more images click here This unique outdoor living space is soon to be published in the prestigious Wall Street Journal!  The WSJ has a daily circulation of over 2,150,000M readers; plus their online presence.  Look for it on Friday, June 14th or next Friday, June 21st.  We will provide a link to the […] Read more »

Make it Stunning!

Even though powder rooms are a part of your overall design style they do not have to conform. For example: a traditional home may have a contemporary powder room; or an Asian influenced powder room. It’s unexpected and could even be whimsical! Typically there is no furniture in a powder bath, so you have free reign to select […] Read more »