Renovating an Early Californian-Style Home in Rancho Santa Fe, California

Located in the serene neighborhood of Rancho Santa Fe, California, an early Californian-style home underwent a remarkable transformation, blending elements of Mexican, North African, and Spanish design. After a devastating flood that caused significant damage to the interior, the homeowners, a senior couple, embarked on a mission to restore their beloved residence to its original splendor and beyond. With the expertise of Kari Arendsen from Intimate Living Interiors, the home was reborn with a fresh perspective, combining tradition and contemporary design. This article delves into the inspiring renovation journey, highlighting the key design choices and the seamless integration of old and new.

Restoring the Foundation

The restoration project began by addressing the fundamental aspects of the home. The flooring in the entry, living room, kitchen, dining room, laundry, and wine room was meticulously replaced. The homeowners wanted to preserve the essence of the original design while infusing a touch of modernity. For the main living spaces, Kari Arendsen opted for traditional Saltillo tile, which exuded a timeless charm while providing a durable and functional solution.


The Heart of the Home: The Kitchen

One of the central areas of focus during the renovation was the kitchen. The existing space underwent a complete transformation, encompassing new cabinetry, countertops, backsplash, floating shelves, lighting, plumbing fixtures, appliances, and accessories. Kari Arendsen approached the design with a vision of creating a brighter and more contemporary kitchen, while still paying homage to the home’s architectural heritage.

To add character to the kitchen, an arch was incorporated above the range and to the right of the refrigerator. This design detail initially raised concerns due to the potential loss of counter space. However, the incorporation of exposed shelves instead of upper cabinetry not only resolved the issue but also introduced an element of openness and accessibility. The backsplash above the range was adorned with hand-painted Spanish tiles, showcasing intricate patterns and vibrant colors. Complementing the tiles, elegant gold-toned Calacatta marble countertops were chosen, striking a balance between tradition and modernity.

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A Harmonious Fusion of Design

Throughout the entire renovation, the guiding principle was to create a design that was both simple and significant. This approach extended beyond the kitchen and permeated the entire home. Kari Arendsen carefully curated furniture and decor that possessed a contemporary profile while utilizing materials that resonated with the home’s architectural vernacular.

The cohesive design narrative aimed to infuse a soft, organic feel into the space, fostering an inviting and cozy ambience. Textures and neutrals played a key role in achieving this desired aesthetic, imbuing the home with a fresh yet grounded atmosphere. By enhancing the original design and incorporating inviting elements, every corner of the home beckoned visitors to linger and savor its beauty.

Preserving the Legacy

While extensive renovations were carried out, certain elements of the home were carefully preserved to honor its rich history. The original doors and windows, which stood as testaments to the home’s past, were lovingly protected and retained. This delicate balance between restoration and renovation ensured that the essence of the early Californian-style home remained intact.

A Testament to Collaboration

The successful restoration of this Californian-style home in Rancho Santa Fe was a testament to the collaboration between the homeowners and Kari Arendsen of Intimate Living Interiors. Together, they navigated the challenges posed by the flood and transformed adversity into an opportunity for rejuvenation. The homeowners’ vision, combined with Kari’s expertise, resulted in a harmonious blend of tradition and contemporary design, creating a space that truly felt like home.



The renovation of this early Californian-style home in Rancho Santa Fe, California, showcases the power of design to breathe new life into a space ravaged by disaster. Through careful curation, a delicate balance was struck between preserving the home’s architectural heritage and infusing it with modernity. Kari Arendsen’s thoughtful approach and attention to detail ensured that the renovated home radiated a sense of warmth and comfort while exuding contemporary elegance. The story of this remarkable transformation serves as an inspiration for homeowners looking to restore and revitalize their own cherished spaces.

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