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Desert Retreat

2nd Place Traditional Award KDC 2013-14
Designer's Choice Award KDC 2013-14

Making KDC history—and thrilling her clients. As Courtney Zeithing sat at her regional KDC gala, she wondered why the speaker was going on about how this was “highly unusual, this had never happened before”—then she got the surprise of her life…

She was the first regional double winner in KDC history. She completed her remarkable year at the KDC Gala in September, winning both the Designer’s Choice Award and 2nd Place Traditional for Desert Retreat. It was so rewarding to be a double regional winner," says Courtney, "because I feel that my work is very diverse, and this was proof of that. The judges had no idea that both kitchens ('Desert Retreat' and 'Beach City Contemporary') were mine." As we talked with Courtney, and learned about the meticulous way she goes about her design work, we began to feel that her historic performance is much more than just happenstance. She draws and designs every interior architectural detail of each room, as well as specifying every material used throughout. "I still draw everything by hand, and those hand drawings are the first thing I present to my clients. They have more personality, more feeling to them, and I think my clients like that. They know I'm all in – totally invested in what I'm doing – and they know I’m going to do whatever it takes to help them realize their dream." Courtney admits she comes up with some "crazy ideas," but she has a partner who helps make her designs come true. Her husband Jim Ziething does all the custom cabinetry and furniture for her projects – he has operated a respected, family-owned cabinet shop for over 30 years. The two of them will realize a lifelong dream this year as they move into their own building, which will not only serve Courtney’s high-end design clientele, but also produce Jim's cabinetry and furniture. It's only a few minutes from the newest Sub-Zero and Wolf showroom in Costa Mesa, California.


One of Courtney's "crazy ideas" cropped up during her design work on "Desert Retreat." It was an extremely challenging project: the client wanted to create a resort-like setting for their guests, with a kitchen/great room big enough for hundreds of guests, and an indoor and outdoor kitchen professional enough for visiting chefs. (There is also another, separate guest house on the property, with its own full kitchen!) "The sheer enormity of the space required a variety of solutions," says Courtney. One of them was designing an imposing 20 foot long reclaimed oak dining table built by her husband Jim—so heavy it had to be assembled on the premises. "My clients had recently come back from vacation in France, and they wanted me to do whatever I could to give their home a French feel."

Courtney got to thinking about the flea markets of France, and the wonderful antique chairs she's seen there. So she decided to design 22 completely different chairs for the reclaimed oak table-like "found chairs" from a flea market. "I spent hours in my garage," she remembers, "laying out all the chair fabrics, the drawings of each chair, making sure that they were unique, but that they would all complement each other." Her clients were thrilled with the end result.

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