sneak peek: penny de los santos


growing up I always had aspirations to be a national geographic photographer. well, today’s sneak peek comes from penny de los santos, who does just that, but she also shoots for saveur and most recently, martha stewart living. she bought her 1938 austin bungalow in 2003 and along with her partner did a 14 month remodel last year. the entire house was designed to pull in northern and eastern natural light; the architect – kimberly kohlhass – designed it so that during the day not a single light ever needs to be turned on. besides being filled with light and life, the house is also centered around the kitchen. it’s the largest room of the house, the heart of the home and the gathering place for the people she loves in her life. you can find additional images here, and don’t miss penny’s work here and on her blog here. {thanks, penny!} -anne

[above: Where everything creative happens, the center of this house the kitchen. 2 sets of windows, 1 North facing 20foot windows, the other 20 foot east facing windows bring the outdoors in and allow for amazing natural light throughout the day. Perfect for this food photographers cookbook shoots and various food related assignments. Center table purchased from the Wooden Duck in Berkeley, CA. in the ’90s and chairs inherited from an a great aunts house on the Texas Mexico border. A vintage chandelier is at the center, purchased at Home Girls in Austin. Used in the evenings for more elegant meals.]

Detail of the stove with the counter and unique European tea pot along with various spoons collected from assignments in various parts of the world.

The master bedroom, looking out onto the back of the property, north facing light, 20 foot commercial grade glass windows make you feel like you are waking up outdoors under the trees.

CLICK HERE for the rest of penny’s peek (including all of the images on one page) after the jump!


Secondary view of the Master bedroom with North and east facing windows.


Vintage John Fluevog shoes bought by owner worn once and then made into a piece of art. [right:] No Mexican-American photographer’s house is complete without a portrait of Frida Kahlo. She resides over the kitchen blessing all creative energy and reminding all to be brave in their thoughts.


The lounge, designed for the cocktail hour with original Barcelona chairs from the 60’s bought a bank in North Texas as it was closing. The room is complete with original photographs from French Magnum photographer Cartier Bresson and Mexican photographer Graciela Iturnide. The vertical window is west facing and diffused which makes a perfect light box for shooting in the afternoon.


Secondary view of the kitchen work station/desk. Original art from visual journal series by Penny De Los Santos/Me on display at top. Sacred cookbook collection and other pieces of inspiration.


Guest bathroom, the only original bathroom in the house. Austin furniture maker Mark Machek designed the build-in counter with drawer, made with Mexican wood called chichi pâté. My childhood arrowhead collection sits at left.


View of the outside patio just off the east wall of the kitchen. Vintage patio furniture collected from around Texas fill the space.


My favorite post in a long time. Perhaps because beyond the natural light, the look is attainable through luck!


Wow wow wow! That kitchen and those windows are my idea of heaven.


My favorite is the outdoor space. Completely un-fussy, but charming.

And the SPOONS!


Ditto Sara: a dream home. What brilliant remodeling choices.


As someone who’s planning on buying a home this coming year, this post is absolutely… flabbergasting. Not that I’d be able to find — or afford — a home like this, but it’s still inspirational to see, and absolutely a delight for the eyes! Thank you for this lovely post!


I LOVE that kitchen–the style of the cabinets and the fact that it’s all one low counter. And the light! I love how the patio looks usable, without being high maintenance. I like the looks of the patios with all the comfy furniture and curtains, but all I can think is the maintenance and cleaning and storing of all that stuff. Give me a patio like this any day.


Love it!!!

Does anyone know where the platform bed is from in the master bedroom?


My kingdom for windows like those!

And also, I’ve long been very tired of Barcelona chairs but these were so smartly arranged with that textured, earthy rug that I can appreciate them in a new light. Bravo.


I love this home! The rug in the lounge is so great. And they HUGE kitchen! Awesome!


This is my favorite sneak peek. The first picture made me stop breathing. This is it, my perfect place.


I am so excited to see two of my favorite ex-neighbor’s house on Design Sponge! Absolutely gorgeous!


Love the kitchen – I wish I lived there! The huge wall of windows is beautiful, so much natural light. I didn’t notice any window coverings – it must be tricky to sleep in!


Love the 60 inch Wolf range. Oh the things I could make on that.


Stunning. Simply, effortlessly chic and nothing but breathtakingly beautiful.


Great space, the kitchen is fantastic.. Really does show that it is the center of the home.

Ericka Napp

This photography is amazing! I can’t do it myself, but have watched photographers work with natural light and it’s tedious but so worth it!


In case anyone is interested, the “unique European teapot” is a Staub–a French brand easily found at stores like Sur la Table. It’s cute but kind of a pain to use.


*gasp* those windows! all that light! unimaginably wonderful. and the stove is beautiful.

April Alvarez

Penny: What a gorgeous space!! When can I send Stephen and the kids to leave their socks and backpacks all around?? xxoo A

Karrie Kohlhaas

Charlotte, my sister, Kimberly Kohlhaas, of Austin TX was Penny’s designer/architect. She is AMAZING, if I do say so myself. I’ll try to get her to make a post here–not sure she even knows this is published! Kimberly, where are you?

She is working with my fiancé remotely (we live in Seattle) on an art studio for our backyard–she is great at brainstorming and really getting to the essence of who/what the project is for and how to manifest that in space and time without losing a drop of that essence. If our art studio turns out even a fraction as gorgeous as Penny’s house I will be thrilled! Penny, you have such articulate style. It is dreamy. Congrats to all!


Austin has beautiful light. Lived there in the early 70’s and have visited ever since. The twilight and early morning sky ranges an unbelievable band of colors.


I took one look out those windows and thought to myself….’that looks like Austin’….I grew up there. What amazing windows. So glad you can take in the gorgeous view there.


if i had that kitchen, i would lay on the floor every day and just stare out the windows! i LOVE it. my favorite sneak peak thus far. i feel so inspired!


That kitchen is probably the best ever on DS!

(There’s a typo in the photog’s name: it’s Graciela Iturbide, not Iturnide.)


This was a great Sneak Peek! This post, and along with most of DS, inspires me with my little space.

I just moved to Austin and have known about Penny’s work through my friends that live in Austin. Great to see more of my new hometown.


I was here for a potluck a few months ago with 30 or so other foodies. It is absolutely stunning in person! My jaw dropped when I entered the kitchen.

Stacey Brawner

Love the kitchen! Does anyone know what the countertops are made of?

Adam Newman

Kimberly Kohlhaas is one of the most lovely, talented, and centered architects/people I have the honor of knowing (yes, she’ll blush), and it is so great (but not surprising) to see her lively spirit oozing out of this project! Yay Penny!!!