Photos captured December 31, 2014 - the very last day of this amazing year. It was an extra special day as we had a miraculous snowfall to wake up to. The efforts it took earlier this year to convert this room to a reading room were worth all of the hours of hard work. Before, we would sit in this room maybe once a week. Now, every person young and old gravitates this direction at least every day if not a few times each day. Pink Barbie books mingle with tattered Lego superhero magazines and mix with dad's favorite Louis L'Amour novels. Nap time reading happens here. Snuggles, hugs and bedtime stories happen here. And the huge cheetah ottoman (thank you, Craigslist!) is the heart of the action. You guessed it, this is the Luna abode. An inside glimpse of the designer's home.
At least that's what people are saying. And I have to admit I wholeheartedly agree! This residence is located in the heart of La Jolla Village, and is so pretty already that any upgrade we add is like spreading icing on a cake. The homeowner had received a few design suggestions from a tile shop that were (frankly) mediocre. She was convinced there was much more potential for the space and knew she needed help from a designer. I used a linen-look porcelain tile with real limestone accents, mixed with grey stained custom cabinetry (built by Jeff Braxmeyer, contractor extraordinaire) and porcelain wood floor for a beautiful and earthy, beachy-casual look. The linen tile is a new look and is so popular, someone bought our order right out from underneath us! But we stuck with it, and are so glad we did - the tile was well worth the little extra wait. The room came out even prettier than any of us imagined, and her guests sure enjoy coming to stay in La Jolla!
Here is a great before / after comparison, showing the transformation:
And here are a few additional photos:
Not just a home, but a family and their memories... these are the things that become destroyed when people lose their homes to something as devastating as a fire. I was so blessed to help one family reclaim their identity, refashion their home and build a place to rebuild new memories. I blogged the entire journey, and listed it all in the LINKS TO YOUR RIGHT... so you can follow along. It was an amazing experience and one I will immensely treasure for years to come.
FOR THE WHOLE STORY: CLICK THE LINKS FOUND IN THE RIGHT COLUMN...
Grace, beauty and style are some of the words I use to describe this client, who's name we'll keep anonymous. During our time together, I wondered what she needed me for... most of the home she had designed beautifully herself. I really enjoyed the style and color palette, very classy and beautiful. (I also enjoyed curling up on the sofa for a cup of coffee and discussing accessories.) We went through rooms together, rearranging things. She wanted my thoughts on finalizing each room. I gave some recommendations: a lamp here, some flowers there. But really, she does a great job without any design help. Some people just have the knack.
There was one custom item she enlisted my help with... the drapery. She was looking for a tailored and simple design with subtle color fabric. Almost always there is one thing that goes awry in every project. In this case, it was the fabric. Our beloved drapery fabric showed up in a different colorway than the sample we had ordered it from, and was much yellower than the client desired.
I am a firm believer in customer service, especially when it comes to clients homes. I took back the drapery, making sure they received a prompt refund and options for alternates. Unfortunately the fabric company we had purchased from didn't feel the same way... and didn't extend any refunds in our direction.
Which was fine, as the story has a happy ending: the drapery fits perfectly in the master bedroom of my new home, and looks wonderful. I smile every time I curl up in my bed with a cup of coffee and remember what a blessing it was to work on this project.
Many times I've waited for my doctor's appointment and wished the waiting room felt more like a home and less like a health institution. When Jeff approached me a couple years ago to work together on his new dental office, I was so glad he wanted to move away from the "typical doctor office lobby" and go more towards a residential feeling with warm friendly colors and rich woods. Finally someone was speaking my "doctor office" language!
Jeff's lobby turned out so beautiful I wish I could coin it as my "Diane Luna" look and design every doc lobby in San Diego exactly the same - but then everybody would look like Jeff and his wouldn't be unique. I can't decide what my favorite item is, I think they're all my favorite. The rust, brown and gray colored carpet we did in three different patterns, the combination of brown vinyl and berry-stem olive print on the seating, the rich paint colors, the natural ledger stone... button detail on the chairs, removeable trays underneath the coffee table, hardcover books instead of magazines... if I was Jeff's client I'd want to come early to my appointments just so I could hang out in the lobby!
Don't they look like Starbucks chairs? They should - I took a photo of some chairs at Starbucks and gave it to our upholsterer. I did two-toned woods throughout the office, which you can see on the welcome desk face. The granite for the welcome desk countertop is so beautiful, even though can't see it in this photo. Here is the carpet again, in the larger square version. We separated the different carpets down the center using hard surface tile for the traffic area by the front door. Helps keep things clean. There is a curved wall directly behind the receptionist that we are still debating adding an accent color to... not sure if we will.
This is the view looking down the hall from the lobby. To the left you can see Jeff's logo that we did in copper laminate on black granite, with the natural stone below it, repeated again. I used dark brown for the metal doors and casings, with a matching dark brown on the rubber base, which added contrast to our color scheme and acts like a frame frames a painting.
The hallway I designed to feel like an art gallery. We purposely kept the lighting dim and soft, no fluorescent. There are three Italian hand-blown glass pendants hanging from the ceiling as you walk down, and track lighting to fill in the dark spots and accentuate the photos. The canvas photography is of Jeff's actual patients. Their smiles are beautiful, thanks to Jeff! The arch details hold the building up, but we took advantage of them and added accent color and little alcoves (see detail photo further down). The wood beams look like they hold the building up... but in actuality they are just decorative. I painted the ceiling of the hallway almost-black, for a moody effect. It makes the ceiling look like it disappears.The bronze statue of Casey at the Bat displayed at the end of the hall is representative of Jeff's fundraising effort called "Smiles for Life". There is a long story attached to the statue which I'll save for another blog post.
Here's a glimpse from the hall looking back toward the lobby. You can also see the hygiene room to the right. Each hygiene room has beautiful burled wood laminate for the cabinetry with brown-black corian countertops. The dental chairs are charcoal color and so comfortable! The canvas photos are by Quentin Huffaker of Fallbrook, CA, who is a talented photographer and client of Jeff's.
The consultation room is a place where clients feel at ease as they discuss the extent of the surgery to be performed on their teeth. As Jeff's specialty is sedation dentistry, many of his clients will experience "extreme makovers" to the structure of their teeth and life-changing improvements to their smiles. I did a commercial grade vinyl grasscloth wallpaper above a high chair rail done in a dark stain. The grasscloth sets off the portraits above beautifully. Around the walls below the chair rail we hung assorted frames, such as you might see on your family photo wall at home. The family feel was very appropriate for this room, as most of Jeff's clients are treated as he would his own family.
For the consultation room I repeated the same seating from the lobby with the berry stem fabric on the loveseat and the brown vinyl with button detail for the chair. It's a comfortable place for clients to sit and chat with Jeff and his team. Lots of "before and after" photos for clients to look at in the family photo album on the table.
I have always painted, my whole life, from finger paints to oil paints. I even painstakingly painted my arms with caramel pudding once, when I still ate my lunch in a highchair. To this creative soul, a surface is not complete unless it is flourished with color. For the interior, decorative paint adds so much character and individuality to a space. I do love wallpaper, but I love decorative paint as much or possibly even more, because of it's adaptability. If a room has a weird shape, decorative paint can accommodate any adjustments. Wallpaper, although beautiful, is confined to pre-printed boundaries. Below are a few examples of projects I have painted myself, many of which tend towards the Spanish style with my San Diego projects being in close proximity to Mexico. Enjoy...
The master bedroom in the "almost fire victim" home is one of my favorite rooms of all time. I always say that after finishing a project, but seriously - this bedroom is really special. What makes it so wonderful to me? Maybe it's the blue on the walls (I stole it for my own master bathroom). Or it's the scrumptious leafy patterned carpet underfoot, that feels like you're walking on a cashmere sweater. No, it must be the over-scaled watercolor art that we splurged on. The custom bed from Jorge in Mexico? The beautifully sewn bedding made by Cathy, exactly to our specifications? Lamps? Accessories? Hmm. I think I just love it all. But, my secret treasure is the cat. I think I must have one on the wall in my bedroom as well!
The dining room in the Ramona, CA, "almost fire victim" home is directly opposite the formal living room. The homeowner wanted a formal place to entertain, but expressed a desire for the room to have a casual side. We ordered two painted country armoires filled with monochromatic pottery pieces to soften the feel of the room, and the rich brown wall color adds warmth and coziness.
I selected the contemporary mirror between the armoires for a touch of whimsy - it was a stretch for the client, but she trusted me. After the mirror hung in the home a few days she loved it! I can't let this one go without a quick thank you to Cathy's draperies in San Marcos, CA., for the absolutely gorgeous window panels. What ever would I do without Cathy?!! If you look closely you can see the faux silver leafing we had painted inside the oval. It absolutely glows - day and night.
I like to call this project the "almost fire victim" since the home narrowly escaped the recent wildfire in Ramona, CA. As it was, we still had to replace the carpet and many of the exterior plants, etc because the fire came right up to the front door, quite literally.
The homeowners were a fun couple to work with. It took a little while to define what they liked, but they definitely knew when they didn't like something. We brainstormed the color scheme together, and it worked out quite well. They also knew what their budget limits were, and it was very important to them to stay within the boundaries. With creative purchasing, we were able to accomplish a beautiful home that met the needs aesthetically and stayed within the budget parameters. See if you can spot where we saved money... I bet you can't tell.
With it's refreshing color palette of blues, greys, beige and browns, the living room is relaxing and casual but at the same time a bit dressy. After all, it is the formal living room...
After months of rebuilding, it was so exciting to see them moved in. There were dishes in the sink, the pantry was full of food... TP in the bathrooms... clothes in the closet. What a feeling of accomplishment and relief. It has been a busy year!
I thought you might want to see how things are progressing. Most of the large furniture pieces are in, and we've added a few accessories. There is still much to do, but we have all agreed to slow down now that the homeowners have moved in. They need to live there a while, adding personality and love to the home piece by piece. This will be slower than usual for me as designer, but since I'm about to have a baby any day now, I'm all for taking a break. It's been a whirlwind of a year, who needs to be in a hurry?